2016-2018 Honda Pioneer 1000 DCT Transmission Problems | Tips + What NOT To Do!

We’ve seen a couple ‘hiccups’ arise lately with the 2016+ Honda Pioneer 1000 DCT transmission. There’s a very few out of the 1,000’s upon 1000’s of these units sold that have run into some problems or issues, however you’d like to word it. Because of this, I would like to address a couple of things.

I’m not saying everyone isn’t following the correct procedures in the Pioneer 1000 owners manual but I know many aren’t… Many and I mean many people never even think to crack open their owners manuals whether it be for their Side by Side, ATV, Motorcycle, Scooter etc. If they are ever taken out of the plastic baggy they come in, it’s to browse through the maintenance schedule to see when they need to have the oil / filter changed or valve inspection intervals etc.

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The DCT (Dual-Clutch Transmission) is a very and I mean very advanced piece of technology with many moving parts (see photo gallery below). Honda has put these through the pace for many years now ranging from motorcycles back in 2010 to now being offered on not only motorcycles but ATVs and side by sides too. With the R&D they’ve done, they have recommendations on how you should operate your machine with a DCT transmission. Do NOT trust what a salesman tells you as the gospel when it comes to how to properly ride or drive your DCT Honda. You NEED to READ your owner’s manual and read the warning labels slapped on the dash of your Pioneer.

I’ve read on many occasions where people said “I can change from 2wd to 4wd on the fly and it works”. Your manual tells you NOT to do this for a reason… I’ve had people tell me that a salesman has told them they can do this very same thing which is why I say don’t take what a salesman tells you as being ‘correct’.

I had the pleasure of talking with someone who will remain nameless. Why nameless? I’ve named sources before and it’s came back to bite me. Let’s just say he is someone with a title that means he is to be trusted when it comes to the words that come out of his mouth when it comes to Honda’s… He had some good tips to pass along to Pioneer 1000 & 1000-5 owners and this is the main reason for this blog post. The whole reason for this blog is to hopefully help people out with information.

Pioneer 1000 DCT Transmission Tips:

  • Going into a mud pit? Do not run through it in High, go through it in Low.
  • Pulling a trailer? Do not pull the trailer in High, pull the trailer in Low.
  • Pulling another side by side or ATV out of a mud pit etc? Do not pull them in High. Use Low to pull them out.
  • If you’re going to put a “strain” on the drivetrain, put your Pioneer 1000 in Low.
  • Want to change from Turf Mode to 2×4 with the rear differential locked? Come to a complete stop before sliding the lever over to engage 2×4.
  • Want to change from 2×4 to 4×4 with the front differential open? Come to a complete stop before sliding the lever over to engage 4×4.
  • Want to change from 4×4 (open differential) to 4×4 with the front differential locked? Come to a complete stop before sliding the lever over to engage the differential lock for the front.

I will repeat this part one more time… Do NOT slide the lever over while rolling to engage any of those 4 drive modes: Turf Mode / 2×4 / 4×4 open front differential / 4×4 locked front differential. You’re asking for problems to the Pioneer 1000 sub-transmission you do this while rolling.

Honda Pioneer 1000 UTV Review - Specs - Price - Top Speed - Accessories

Key notes directly out of the Pioneer 1000 owners manual:

  • NOTICE: Changing drive modes while the vehicle is moving could damage the drivetrain.
  • NOTICE: Do not attempt to move the shift select lever with the engine speed above idle or while the vehicle is moving, as you may damage the transmission.
  • To avoid damaging the transmission, move the shift select lever only when the vehicle is stopped and the engine is idling.
  • To avoid damaging the clutch, follow the proper usage of the sub-transmission dual range as described.
  • To prevent clutch damage, do not use the throttle to hold the vehicle stationary on an include or try to tow an immovable object.

2016 Honda Pioneer 1000 DCT Transmission Operation notes from the owner’s manual:

  • High-Range: Used when driving forward on hard surfaces or with light cargo
  • Low-Range: Used when driving forward in the following situations:
    • When driving with heavy cargo or towing heavy loads
    • When ascending steep hills
    • When driving over large obstacle
    • When driving at a constant low speed (5 mph & 8 km/h or below) 

Am I saying that the very few problems that are floating around on the Honda side by side forums are user error? Nope. Honda has built a reputation for being the most reliable manufacturer on the planet for over 50 years and they haven’t done this by releasing new models with inferior parts or technology that’s plagued with problems etc. If they do have a ‘slip up’, which is a rarity when comparing to other brands, they are always quick to fix it with a product update / recall etc. I’ve seen Honda cover many and I mean things under warranty and after the warranty expired that were clearly not a defect with the machine but instead a problem due to what the user put the machine through and Honda cover it under ‘goodwill’. I’m a little on the young side with being in this industry for only 10 years now but in those years I’ve seen Honda take care of their customers more so than any other manufacturer. That is the very reason why I’m glad to say I not only get to play with their powersports products every day for work but I also have a garage full of them and a driveway with 4 Honda cars too. Can they please everyone though? Nope. Will they have problems from time to time? Yup, it’s a machine and things can go wrong when they have as many moving parts as they do today with the amount of technology they’re cramming in these things now. That’s one awesome thing about the internet these days and all the owners forums for Pioneer 1000’s and other motorcycles, ATVs etc is that when there is a problem it can be addressed quickly and the word can get to the manufacturers faster than ever. They can keep tabs on how wide of a scope this problem may be before customers even step foot in the dealers doors and then relay the info to Honda etc.

Hopefully some of this information is helpful whether you own a Pioneer 1000 or are doing your research on whether or not a Pioneer 1000 is the right side by side for you and your family etc. Have any questions? Comment below…