5 Common Can-Am Defender HD5 Problems & Issues

The Can-Am Defender HD5 is a side-by-side utility vehicle with an enticing price tag and attractive add-ons. While the vehicle is alluring to drivers, it is not flawless, and users should be aware of potential issues. 

Common problems with the Can-Am Defender H5 include fuel issues, maintenance and setup issues, chain problems, overheating, and no power steering. While some problems are relatively easy to fix, others require additional purchases or help from a maintenance tech. 

While you may experience problems with the Can-Am Defender HD5, being aware of potential issues will help you better address them. This article will further explore the problems you may encounter as a Can-Am Defender HD5 owner and some troubleshooting methods. 

What is the Can-Am Defender HD5?

The Can-Am Defender HD5 is a three-seater UTV with a heavy-duty Rotax engine. The vehicle is built on the same chassis as larger models and offers 38 horsepower, which is plenty for everyday farm use. 

While the Can-Am Defender HD5 is built for farming, you can also use the UTV for camping, hauling cargo, hunting, worksites, and fishing. 

The three-seat bench offers a 40/20/40 split, similar to a pickup truck, which is handy for carrying extra passengers. Also, the UTV has extra storage, and additional options include a full cab, a snow plow, lights, and a bed-wall extender. 

Various features include an odometer, gear position, speedometer, digital display, profiled cage, seat belt indicator, 12V battery, and bench seating. In addition, a toggle switch is used to go back and forth between 2WD and 4WD. 

Users will also appreciate the cargo box’s tilt bed that empties loads at two different degrees. Finally, despite the lower price and smaller build, the Can-Am Defender HD5 doesn’t fall short on versatility, performance, power, or comfort. 

Who Makes the Can-Am Defender HD5?

Can-Am is a subsidiary of Bombardier Recreational Products, founded in 1942, with Can-Am beginning in 1972. While the company initially focused on motocross dirt bikes for competition racing, after a 19-year hiatus, they began producing ATVs and other off-road vehicles. 

The BRP Traxter all-terrain vehicle was named “ATV of the Year” by ATV Magazine within a few years. In addition, they released the DS650 the following year for experienced sports enthusiasts. 

The Spyder is one of Can-Am’s most well-known vehicles: part convertible sports car and part motorcycle. In the 1990s, Can-Am began producing ATVs with torsional trailing arm rear suspension. This innovative move allowed riders to venture onto more adventurous terrain. 

Can-Am continued to release new ATV models, with the Can-Am Commander being the first side-by-side model from the company. It wasn’t until 2016 that the first Defender was released in the United States, focusing on hunters and farmers. 

Can-AM Defender HD5 Specifications 

Engine Single-cylinder 
Transmission Continuously Variable (CVT)
Front Brakes Dual Hydraulic Disc Brake 
Rear Brakes Hydraulic Disc Brake 
Cooling Liquid 
Starter Type Electric 
Fuel Type Gas 
Front Suspension Independent Double A-Arm 
Rear Suspension Independent 
Front Tires25 x 8-12
Rear Tires25 x 10-12
Overall Width62 inches 
Overall Height76 inches
Overall Length 121 inches 
Ground Clearance10.5 Inches 
Wheelbase 83 inches 
Horsepower 38hp 
Dry Weight 1305 lbs 
Payload Capacity 1200 lbs 
Towing Capacity 1500 lbs 
Fuel Tank Capacity 10.6 lbs 

Common Problems with the Can-Am Defender HD5

1. Fuel Issues

The Can-Am Defender HD5 can have fuel issues that result in excessive noise when turned on. Unfortunately, the problem happens suddenly, without warning, even if it was working correctly before. 

There are several reasons for fuel issues, so it can take time to pinpoint the exact cause. If left alone, this could possibly lead to engine misfires indicating low compression. However, replacing the fuel pump filter typically fixes the problem. 

2. Chain Issues

The Can-Am Defender HD5 has a weak chain, which expands over time. Despite valiant efforts, you can’t fix this issue without some time and labor. 

Your best bet is to purchase an aftermarket chain compatible with the UTV. While it will cost you, it will relieve the stress of constantly dealing with a faulty chain. 

3. Maintenance and Setup Issues 

The Can-Am Defender HD5 is known for requiring extra maintenance, which can become a nuisance. In addition, getting the vehicle set up is another process, especially since you aren’t always guaranteed an owner’s manual at purchase. 

4. Overheating Problems

Overheating is one of the more significant problems with the Can-Am Defender HD5. To add insult to injury, it’s not always easy to find the cause of the overheating, even if you take the ATV to a mechanic. 

If you experience overheating, you should check the battery under the rear passenger seat. In some cases, the fan relay comes loose and leads to overheating. Also, you may check the area and discover the relay fell off and requires replacement. 

Once you replace the relay, the overheating issue should stop, and the fan will continue to work correctly. 

5. No Power Steering 

The Can-Am Defender HD5 is not equipped with power steering. While this isn’t an issue you’ll encounter, it’s something you should be aware of before purchasing, especially since most model UTVs come standard with power steering. 

Due to the lack of power steering, you’ll want to use the UTV for utility purposes and refrain from trail riding. If you prefer the Can-Am Defender model and want power steering, you can look into the HD8 or HD10 models. 

Can-AM Defender HD5 Recalls 

While the HD5 model has not experienced recalls, several Can-Am Defender models have faced issues requiring recalls

  • 2016 Can-Am Defender, Can-Am Defender DPS, and Can-Am Defender XT – Misleading park position displayed in the instrument cluster. 
  • 2020-2021 Can-Am Defender HD10 – If users modified their vehicles with a track kit for snow and didn’t relocate the CVT intake, the stock CVT air intake could become entirely obstructed with snow. If this happens and the vehicle has a high load, the drive belt can overheat and break into pieces causing a fire within the CVT enclosure. 


The Can-Am Defender HD5 is an affordable UTV that provides many benefits. However, drivers should be aware of common problems with the UTV and how to address them. For instance, if you suspect the vehicle is overheating, you should inspect it immediately. 

On the other hand, some “problems,” like no power steering, are standard features that aren’t appealing to everyone. However, as long as you understand the features and common problems before purchasing, you can better understand the vehicle’s operation. 

Overall, the Can-Am Defender HD5 is a durable UTV, and users will appreciate the add-ons and functionality.

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