Kawasaki Mule: Common Problems, Recalls & Specs 

Whether you’re on the farm hauling supplies, building fences, or out having fun, the Kawasaki Mule has a UTV for you. For over 30 years the Kawasaki Mule has been balancing work and play with a fun and strong Utility Terrain Vehicle. Like all UTVs though, the Kawasaki has its fair share of issues.

Kawasaki is a leader in UTV production, but like all manufacturers, they have their share of problems. The Mule is prone to creating overheating problems that can not only be uncomfortable but can damage the engine. They can also have wiring problems, or issues with the transmission and shifting gears, and the Mule has had a few recalls over time.

To find out more about recalls on the Kawasaki Mule, as well as the most common problems you might experience, keep reading. We will go over the most common complaints from owners and find out about recalls on these UTVs. We will also let you know how to troubleshoot the most common issues and what to do afterward.

What is a Kawasaki Mule? 

The Kawasaki Mule, and in fact the first ever UTV, started out as a sketch on a cocktail napkin in 1980. It was first dubbed the Pony Truck or the 4-wheeled 3-wheeler. The first one rolled out 8 years later to huge success and the UTV has only grown in popularity since.

Mule first stood for Multi-Use-Light-Equipment. It was something that was more versatile than an ATV, but smaller than a work truck and could be taken where no vehicle could go. The design started a new category, and now there are many different brands and models available.

With 1067 Kawasaki UTV dealerships located across the United States, it’s not hard to find one near you. 

Who Makes the Kawasaki Mule? 

Kawasaki is a Japanese company that started in 1878, but in 1966 Kawasaki opened and established American Kawasaki Motorcycle Corp in Chicago Illinois. This branch quickly set up a factory and started manufacturing motorcycles. Soon they expanded to building jet skis, and ATVs, and in 1988 they rolled out the first-ever UTV.

The Kawasaki Mule went from a sketch on a cocktail napkin to fruition in only 8 years. Now the UVT market has exploded, but Kawasaki was the original creator.

Kawasaki may have started in Japan, but the branches that manufacture the Kawasaki Mule are located in Lincoln, Nebraska, and in Maryville, Missouri. These two facilities encompass hundreds of acres and employ nearly 2000 people.

Kawasaki Mule Specifications

Kawasaki has several Mule models for whatever your needs are. Some can tow more, while others can carry up to 6 passengers. Here are some specs from the most common models. 

Kawasaki Mule SXKawasaki Mule ProFXKawasaki Mule 4010 TRANS4x4 Kawasaki Mule 4xKawasaki Mule Pro FXT
Engine401cc, 4 Stroke 812cc, 3-Cylinder, 4-Stroke617cc, V-Twin, 4-Stroke812cc, 3-Cylinder, 4-Stroke
TransmissionCVT (H, L, N, R)CVT (H, L, N, R)CVT (H, L, N, R)CVT (H, L, N, R)
SuspensionMacPherson Strut/3.1 in and Unit Swingarm/3.1 inDouble wishbone/8.7 inMacPherson Strut/3.9 inDeDion Axle/2.8 inDouble wishbone/8.7 in
Tow Weight1100 lbs2000 lbs1200 lbs2000 lbs
Cargo Weight400 lbs1000 lbsUp to 800 lbsUp to 1000 lbs
Tire Size22” to 26”26”23”26”

Kawasaki Mule Recalls

So far there have been two large recalls on Kawasaki Mule models. They include a fire risk because of debris or a clogged breather hose, and a loose steering column leading to potential accidents.

  • The first recall is a fire risk related to debris that can ignite on the exhaust manifold and the possibility of frozen water blocking the breather hose. The blocked breather hose allows oil to leak which could lead to a fire.
    • Models included in this recall include 2015 through 2020
      •  Mule Pro-FX
      • Mule Pro-FXR
      • Mule Pro-FXT
  • The second recall relates to a steering shaft that can wear down excessively, and affect steering control. The loose steering can result in a crash and possible injury or death.
    • The Kawasaki Mule models that are included in this recall include:
      • 2015 – 2020 Mule Pro-FX
      • 2015 – 2020 Mule Pro-FXR
      • 2015 – 2020 Mule Pro-FXT
      • 2016 – 2020 Mule Pro-DX
      • 2016 – 2020 Mule Pro-DXT

If you own any vehicle matching the year make and model, you should stop using it immediately and return it to your local dealership to have these recalls repaired.

Common Problems and Simple Solutions with the Kawasaki Mule 

The following are common problems encountered with Kawasaki Mule models, and simple solutions you can do to fix them. Some problems will require diagnosis and repair from trained Kawasaki professionals though.

While not every UTV will encounter these problems, some issues may be more common to certain models or years. Other issues could be related to the Kawasaki model only.  

Fuel System Problems

Many Kawasaki Mule owners have experienced complications stemming from the fuel system. When they pressed the accelerator the power lagged, or they experienced complete power loss. 

Many times the fuel filter, or other filters get clogged and rob the engine of power. When the fuel filter gets clogged the fuel pump can overheat and burn out.

To fix this problem, make sure you replace your fuel filter regularly, and use quality fuel. When the UTV is going to sit you may want to drain the fuel out or add a fuel stabilizer so water and debris do not accumulate.

The Seats Get Too Hot

Many Mule owners have complained about too much heat coming from under the seats. It seems there is a design flaw in some models that allow too much heat from the motor and exhaust to flow into the cabin.

You can either pull over and let the engine cool off before going farther, or you can remove the seats and install an aftermarket heat shield. Most owners report the heat shield is the best solution for the hot seat.

Motor Overheating

Many UTVs overheat because the radiator gets clogged, especially when they are front-mounted and do not have a radiator shield. Another problem with the Kawasaki Mule is a cooling fan relay. When this fails the fan won’t turn and the motor will overheat.

To fix this, be sure to keep the radiator fins cleaned with a hose. Wait for the motor to cool off before spraying it with a hose, but clean out the radiator after each use to keep it clean and free of debris.

Either get the relay switch replaced or install a radiator fan override switch. This way you can decide how long the fan runs to keep your engine cool.

Wiring Issues

Often, the ignition switch goes bad on Kawasaki Mules. When this happens it can drain your battery or not start the UTV altogether.

Fortunately, replacement ignition switches are available online and are not all that difficult to replace. If you’re a home mechanic or handy with tools you should be able to replace the ignition switch without too much trouble.

Battery Problems

Many owners report that stock Kawasaki UTV batteries are pretty weak and fail rather quickly. Weak or dying batteries can leave you stranded while out working or at play, or cause issues when you try to start your UTV.

When charging batteries make sure you fully charge them but don’t over charge them. Make sure battery cables and wires are tight and cleaned of all corrosion and dirt.

If you’re constantly having trouble with your battery, upgrade to a better, stronger battery and you shouldn’t have the problem for a while.

Braking Issues

From too much noise to brakes locking up while out and driving around, brake issues have been recounted many times by Mule owners. A lot of the time, dirt, mud, or other debris is the culprit for malfunctioning brakes in UTVs.

Driving in rough, dirty terrain can kick up a lot of dust which can end up clogging your brake system and rotors. 

Be sure to clean your brake drum and rotors regularly with an appropriate brake cleaner and proper tools. Replace your pads when they wear down and inspect drums and rotors regularly to keep your brakes working their best.

Some models of Mule only have drum brakes which can take longer to stop compared to rotors. When first driving your Mule, make sure you get used to the types of brakes you have.


Kawasaki is a leader and the original UTV manufacturer. Even with these accolades, their products have problems. From weak batteries, faulty key ignitions, overheating issues, and having too much heat entering the cabin every manufacturer will encounter some problems. 

The Kawasaki Mule also had two large recalls. One related to a fire hazard because of debris landing on the exhaust, a clogged breather hose leading to an oil leak, and another recall caused by an excessively loose steering column. If you have the models mentioned above, take your vehicle into the shop to get it repaired.

Hopefully, you never encounter any problems, but now that you know what to look out for, these issues won’t be a surprise if they come up. You’ll know how to figure out the problem and how to fix it.

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