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

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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.

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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…

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27 Comments on this post

  1. Just bought my 2016 1000 EPS for slope side vineyard work and some ‘fun’ on the side in the nearby mountain trails. First few times changing 4-wheel drive modes, it didn’t engage right away or at all. Broke out the manual, followed the recommendations (STOP-ENGAGE-DRIVE FORWARD A NEW METERS STEERING LEFT TO RIGHT), works every time. Every time! Compared against the JD XUV855i when I bought (neighbouring vineyard has one), I’m very impressed with the Honda-fit, finish, tranny, engine, power, comfort, size, etc. Like they say, “It’s a Honda”, ’nuff said.

    Norm Davies /
    • Glad to hear you’re enjoying her!

      Also glad to hear you broke out the owners manual as changing in between the 4-wheel drive modes incorrectly can damage the sub-transmission.

      If you don’t mind me asking… Did the salesman / dealer you bought your Pioneer 1000 from not go over those details with you on what not to do etc so you didn’t cause any damage to the Pioneer?

      • Well, problems showing up now: when driving, power steering light flickers intermittently and engine oil light will come on and stay on. All fluid levels checked and all good. Machine will actually just stop running at around 50kmh. Pull over, turn off, turn back on, good to go for another 5-10 minutes. It’s only got 300 km’s of use and NOTHING remotely strenuous. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan but it’s concerning. Will be sending back for dealer review.

        Norm Davies / (in reply to HondaPro Kevin)
      • lmao honda dealerships actually caring about their customers. That’s the best joke i heard this year.

        John Claiborne II / (in reply to HondaPro Kevin)
  2. salesman told me that in the MT mode tranmission will not shift until you come to a complete stop. well my pioneer 1000 will shift down in MT when I slow down from 3rd to 2nd at around 7mph and from 2nd to 1st at around 5 or 6 mph. Is there a problem with the bike ?

    Rick Hall /
    • He didn’t tell you correctly if he said it will only kick in once you come to a dead stop in MT mode. It will kick in and downshift once you come to a speed that will be too low for that high of a gear. There’s nothing wrong with your machine, it’s doing exactly as it should so you don’t lug around at too low of an RPM.

      Sadly… This is becoming a common occurrence with salesmen incorrectly informing people about how the DCT transmission works in the Pioneer 1000.

      • i have dct on my motorcycle as well. dealerships in general know little to nothing about the products they sell. If you do not research what you are buying then you get exactly what you deserve. ThERE ARE NO LONG TERM PROBLEMS WITH DCT TRANSMISSIONS PERIOD. However I do not trust Honda management any longer. who knows what cheap low grade metal parts they are using. my honda civic is garbage. my honda motorcycle is not.

        John Claiborne II / (in reply to HondaPro Kevin)
  3. Thanks for your reply. salesman actually said his Honda rep told him that. Just so you know where I’m coming from I own and operate 1500 acre cattle ranch Sierra Nevada Foothills. Some of which is very steep. Over the last several years I have had 5 Ranger XP 1 Suzuki King Quad.

    Rick Hall /
    • No problem at all, anything I can do to help 😉 . Thank you for actually saying “thanks”, appreciate it…

      That’s odd. Maybe it got lost in translation? I would hope a Honda rep isn’t passing along incorrect information… One thing to note though would be which “Honda rep” it is and whether it was a sales rep or a service rep. Some sales reps don’t know the “ins and outs” when it comes to detailed things like that whereas a service rep from Honda does as that’s his job so-to-say when it comes to how these machines work. Oh wow, yeah with where you’re at and using it for work you definitely want to make sure things are working properly and as it should be since it’s your livelihood and not just a toy like it is for most.

      Hope the info is of some help. If you ever have any other questions etc just let me know. Don’t mind to help in any way that I can. I don’t always know the answer but I’ll never tell someone something just because it sounds good like some do and if I don’t know the answer I’ll find it out one way or another haha.

    • must have been a salesman rep. The next time I go to the dealer I will find. Maybe I should tell the salesman to use an alias and he should talk to you before he talks to me haha
      To change to another topic What is the sub tranmission? What’s it’s jod? I did drain the sub transmission by mistake. The book is not to clear on that for sure! I THOUGHT I was just draining the engine oil. good thing I read your article before I drove the bike! thanks rick

      Rick Hall / (in reply to Rick Hall)
      • so do the horrible untrainer service techs at honda. so dont feel bad.

        John Claiborne II / (in reply to Rick Hall)
  4. Kevin, thanks for all the great products you bring us pioneer owner. I hope to see a bigger selection for them. Now to the problem I’ve had with mine. First day I had her the transmission stuck in 1st gear and started blinking on the display, I instantly called the dealer and he told me to turn the key back on and it was fine. It has done this 3 more times since. But since I started putting the transmission in neutral when stopped then shifting to 4×4 then going to high or low it instantly transitions on the display and have no problems since. Is this something I should be concerned about?

    David Alderman /
    • David,

      You’re more than welcome! Thank you for taking the time to say “thanks”, makes the time put in all worth it when it’s helpful to fellow enthusiasts… Oh yeah, the aftermarket parts are really starting to expand for the Pioneer model lineup thanks to the incredible sales for the Pioneer 1000 so as more time passes we’ll be seeing more and more products.

      Hmm, that’s interesting… So if you change drivetrain modes after stopping, it is flashing on the dash and not engaging? If so, something isn’t right as you should be able to just stop slide the lever over and once you roll forward a short distance it will show on the gauges that the particular differential is engaged and those tires and the X are darkened etc. You shouldn’t have to put it into neutral every time… Did the dealer say this was ‘normal’?

      • Not exactly, from time to time the machine is sticking in first gear, and the display will flash the gear. I did read my manual but I’ve had trucks that you had to stop go to park or neutral then shift between 2 and 4 wheel drive. Since I started this it hasn’t stuck in gear. The dealer said to bring it in and after questioning them realize they know nothing about these machines because they are so new I guess, I just don’t want to be the Guinea pig lol. I’ve read other posts with the machines sticking in gear and having to manually change gears per the manual to limp it home. Mine has always reset after cycling the key.

        David Alderman / (in reply to HondaPro Kevin)
  5. got stuck in the mud. hooked up winch. when hit the winch button transmission kicked in an out of gear.electric system seemed to wack out.

    bill lienhard /
    • Thanks for tranny info. Just got new one thinking was like my Honda Rancher 420. Pioneer not as user friendly.
      Question: does anyone know of center wheel caps to cover castle nut, etc. Have stock black wheels.

      Mike Briggs / (in reply to bill lienhard)
  6. I just got a pioneer 1000 have 235 miles on burnt clutches out twice no towing no mudding no climing explain that honda cant

    Steve /
  7. Hello, my name is Billy Price and I live in Onalaska Texas. I purchased my Honda pioneer 1000-3 December 11, 2016. Have taken in to Honda 3 times now for service. And since i have had this pioneer it bucks like something is loose only when it is in four wheel drive and it does not matter if it is in low or high. Almost like a broke mount or it goes in and out of gear? The Honda dealer called me this time when doing the service and inform me that the clutches were out. The only thing i have towed with this machine is i put my jet ski in the water with the pioneer and i was not using low. Before i got this pioneer i used my golf cart so i did not thing this was much for the pioneer in high? I main use for my pioneer is for the deer lease and i drive it around my neighbor hood. I will start using low more, i never shifted the pioneer before i come to a stop tho. I just hope i will start going through clutches? I really like this machine!

    Billy Price /
  8. I have pioneer 1000 clutch slipping 1,3,5 and free wheels coming down hill until you give it fuel,oil light can on checked oil full and recently changed within 50 miles always rode in low while climbing and descending hills

    Bill /
  9. Thanks for posting info for all to read. I just bought my 1000-5 Friday the Dec 16th. My salesman did not say anything shifting or use of the 4×4. This is my first SxS and will be mostly trail riding around Texas. What mode should I use while learning how to drive in different terrain?

    boat /
  10. Hello Pro Kevin, do you know of any after market engine parts or exhaust parts that the 2016 Pioneer 1000-5 can use to improve horsepower or torque? Just curious .
    Michael Sealy

    Michael Sealy /
  11. Just like the Honda Auqatrax the Honda Pioneer will soon become another failed attempt by Honda.Overly complicated components will continue to fail and they will discontinue the product altogether just as the watercraft.The basic CVT transmission used by all other manufacturers is simply the best design overall and the simplest to maintain and operate.

    BOSSMAN131 /
    • crazy man. this thing rocks. i had mine for a year and a half. desert guy. machine is a swiss army knife if you know how to use it! and i’m not a honda guy!. but you can’t ignore quality! it depends what your using it for! it hauls ass if i need to. but at the same time haul my girl. my friend. big cooler. guns. and a bbq! so what else can you ask for. gets me home home everytime with no oil in the sub transmission for 325 miles! ha. not my fault. and it works! inspected and addressed. honda did the right thing!

      dave / (in reply to BOSSMAN131)
  12. I’ve owned my P1K now for a little over a year and a half. I don’t use it much, it mostly sits in my garage. I do however use it for work purposes and when I do, I need it to be perfect. Unfortunately, recently it has failed me for the 2nd time since my purchase. The transmission acted up the very first time late last year back in 2016. It would rev higher than normal before engaging into gear so I brought it back to my dealer since it was still under warranty. I was even sold with all the extended and extra service care package hoping it would cover all my issues if I ever came across any. After all, my primary reason to own this machine is for work. I think I currently have about 300 miles or so in it, again I do not use it on a regular basis. That said, the first time taken it into the dealer for this repair took way too long in my opinion. It was close to a month and a half before I was able to get my SXS back. The reason was simple, the dealer was relying on Honda for info. diagnosing the issues and reporting back to Honda. So basically, the dealer in this sense is nothing else but a middle person. My frustration was not understanding why the dealer isn’t able to fix whatever it is wrong but due to the newness (I guess) of this “DCT” tranny, they simply do not know how. This is insane! So eventually, the “fix” was a re-flash of the on board computer system but even then in my opinion was not perfect. Although not perfect, I accepted that this is what has to be cause I can’t afford any more time lost from work. Fast forward to July 2017, it happened again! Only this time its gotten worst, not only does the tranny revs very high before engaging into gear but occasionally cuts off at times. This is totally new to me from the last time with these similar issues. So again, its sitting at the dealer once again waiting on Honda to figure out what’s going on and telling the dealer how to fix it. My goal is once it’s fix….if you want to call it that, I will be trading it in for something total different. I just can’t afford to lose time from work and I’m depending on a machine that has a reputable name like “HONDA”

    LSP /
    • Honda dealerships hire mechanics that are for the most part, completely incompetent. Dct xmissions have been around for a long time. THEY ARE NOT NEW! . However, the application in low geared machines 4wd machines is new. I wish Toyota would get into the utv market. They are now superior in every way to Honda.

      John Claiborne II / (in reply to LSP)
  13. just bought a poineer 1000 and have about 1000kms on it … was travelling up a long hill (rocky) and a bit steep in high range and the bike over heated is that my mistake by not having it in low range…would low range have prevented it from happening i guess is my question…all in all very happy with the side by side best purchase ever i think lol….my old sxs was a 750 and didnt have to use low range on that very same hill so just wondering if that was my mistake and i should have used low range on this one…thanks

    kirk /
  14. That does not exactly inspire confidence. This either this or the Roxor. I’m now leaning toward the Roxor. It’s simplicity itself…..and cheaper, too. 70 year old tech that still works.

    mickey bitsko /

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