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Blog posts for the month of July,2012.
TaoTao ATV 125cc, Broken Exhaust stud7/17/2012 8:23:57 AM

I have a taotao atv, 125 cc, with a broken exhaust stud, of course slightly recessed in the engine block.

Here is what I did to fix it:

Well, it's never pretty !

The exhaust stud is a nightmare.  The angle of it, combined with where it's mounted (the engine) means you can barely get in there.

Go to FLAPS (Friendly Local Auto Parts Store), and buy an extractor for broken bolts.

Oh well, i tried anyway, because I'm an idiot and don't know when to quit.

Drill bit, snapped off.

Remember, I'm an idiot and don't know when to quit.

Drill again, break another bit.

Go to O'reilly's pay 10 bucks for a "titanium" drill bit.

Drill again, gets a bit further, maybe a little bit further than 1/4", breaks again.

Remember I'm an idiot and don't know when to quit.

Pound extractor into drilled hole, it bites into it, i'm thinking, shit, this might work even though I'm an idiot.

Try and turn extractor, 3/8" to 1/4" socket adapter snaps off in socket wrench, when did metal get so weak as I know I ain't that strong ?

Remember I'm an idiot and don't know when to quit.

Back to O'reilly's pay 10 bucks for 3/8" to 1/4" socket adapter with lifetime warranty, thinking I should start buying O'reilly's stock.

Try and turn extractor, extractor breaks off.

Remember it's 100+ degrees, so I'm in a rosy mood, F***!

I finally know when to quit, bolt exhaust / muffler back together with one bolt and declare that it will just have to do.

Order new engine with starter and transmission, 249.00, bolt in replacement!

Then I head out with Grandpa for a beer, only smart thing I did all day.

TaoTao ATV ATA125E Review7/8/2012 4:05:13 PM

Finally have about 8 gallons of gas through the 3 ATV's from taotao.

My review is that you "get what you pay for".  If I had 6K to buy 3 ATV's from a Japanese dealer I would have.  Once you work the bugs out of your taotao and your kids aren't tearing them up doing jumps, donuts and other nonsense, I think it's a good deal.  Getting those bugs worked out takes some effort.

I purchased 3 Taotao ATV's from  All three were the same model, different colors, model ATA-125E.



So far they are running good, but I have had all the "common" issues and since I purchased 3 at one time, it's a pretty good sampling of what you will get.  ALL of the issues are due to loose bolts or not securing wiring, so shut down the riders every 15 minutes or so to check things out; so far once something has been corrected it has not cropped up again as an issue.

Also performed the first oil change.  This is important, I didn't find anything exciting but smelly old oil.  Draining the oil is easy.  Checking it and adding it is a pain in the ass.  They hide the filler and dipstick behind the right side of the engine and it is barely accessible through the right tire fender.  Sure would be nice if they would design these engines to just take 1 quart, I did figure out how much they take and pre-measured it into a empty oil container so I could just "dump" it in and only check it once it settled to ensure it was good.

Only one issue was serious enough that would have lead to a failure of the ATV, the exhaust stud.

  1. Two of the three had loose exahaust nuts, one actually had the exhaust stud fall out before I found it.  Fortunately no damage, and a simple trip to FLAPS (Friendly Local Auto Parts Store) fixed this.  Definetly tighten these, but do be careful as over tightening could easily strip the exhaust studs and I wouldn't trust how well the casting is on the engine casing.  I added a lock nut washer to each and so far it's holding nicely, this is something to check every 20 minutes or so, at least until I trust that the lock nut washer is working.  Unfortunately I do not think lock tight works at high temperatures so it is not a solution for this issue.
  2. One Battery seems to not hold a charge so well, I will call FamilyGoKarts on monday on this.  Two of the ATV's were from 2010 and one was from 2009 according to the date of manufacture.  I think the battery from 2009 is just not holding a charge properly as even when I move it around from ATV to ATV the same issue happens in the different ATV, so it's not a short, it's the battery.
  3. Wires pulled out from all three left rear brake lights, this happens because the wiring harness for this light really needs a zip tie to keep it from catching on the rear frame as the suspension travels up and down.  The solution is to use your soldering iron and rebuild the brake light, re-attach light and properly secure wiring harness so that it doesn't catch on anything.
  4. Two of the three sirens for the alarm have "snapped" off; to prevent the third from breaking I removed it.  I haven't found a way to re-secure these yet without putting tension on the wiring harness, so I just removed them temporarily.
  5. All three have had the rear brake light loosen up.  You have to catch this one early enough to not damage the light, as you need to disassemble the light so that you can put metal washers on the inside of the bolts that hold the plastic housing, and replace the bolts with nylon lock nut bolts.
  6. All three have had a decorative shiny plate (i'd say chrome, but I know it ain't !), on the right side of the engine work loose.
  7. 2 of the 3 had the bolt holding the head light ring come loose, not the bolts that attach it to the atv, but the bolt that is used to gain access to change the light bulb.  This bolt/screw goes to a plastic nut molded into the inside of the light, so far i've just tightened it, but based on the "quality" of the plastic nut, I'll be fixing this again with a better solution.
  8. There were some other various loose bolts here and there.


Taotao ATV7/2/2012 1:52:50 PM

Finally made the big jump and purchased 3 ATVs for the boys, Taotao 125 from FamilyGoKarts

You can order these things from what seem like 100's of different places, prices all run about the same, the difference is the customer service you get from the supplier (as all the ATVs ship from a central place).  FamilGoKarts had great videos on how to put them together, what to expect and an A+ Better Business Bureau rating. 

If you do some research you will see that there is wide varaiety of opinions on Taotao (and chinese ATVs in general), many of the horror stories are from prior to 2006, quality is much improved, and many of the horror stories are about the customer service of who sold know what your getting into.  It's a sub $1000 ATV, you get what you pay for...or you can spend 3000 on a (polaris, yamaha, honda or other Japanese brand).  Since I needed 3 ATVs, I had to take the economy route.

Also you should pick a string of 100+ degree days to assemble these, as the sweat puring out of you will really help.

These ATV's come in a metal crate, and require some assembly.  The ones I ordered required tires, handlebars, trim and front suspension.

I got what I orderered though green camo came as red camo, big deal, I told EJ it was Fall Camo, he couldn't care less, and if he ever does, i have a thing called spray paint.

I read about many issues of damage upon inspection or other issues, all 3 of mine were good.  I had some minor issues but all 3 of them went together, started and ran.

Biggest issue I had to troubleshoot was an electrical connector issue on the "R"everse and "N"eutral idiot lights.  This was more frustruating than difficult, using a wire tester revealed both had bad electrical connectors, After cutting out and replacing them, it has been fine.


It's a shark in the pond !7/1/2012 1:57:08 PM

Just just know not to believe this when you hear it from the kids.

But darned if it wasn't a dorsal fin of "something" popping up and swimming around in circles like a shark.

All I can think of is it's a catfish or grass carp dorsal fin.

Hard to see in the picture, but I circled it.



Just for fun:


Controlling Smooth Sumac6/29/2012 1:43:11 PM

Be better titled as eradicating Smooth Sumac.

This stuff is invasive and seems to thrive on lack of water and poor soil !

From what I can see the stuff can easily take over several acres a year, and it chokes everything else out, even the deer don't seem to like to eat it.

It has no benefit that I can see.

I've probably got 2-3 acres of this stuff growing, some of it 6 foot tall and so thick you couldn't walk through it.  Eradication has started.  Cutting this stuff does not work, it comes back even stronger.  Plowing it does not work, as even the smallest root segment will sprout LOTS of new shoots.

So I'm actually doing a combination of cutting and spraying to erradicate it.  If you are going to cut it, do so before it starts putting out seeds (see pic), if you allow it to go to seed before you spray or cut, you are going to have a lot of work as the seeds stay viable for 2-3 years.  In some places it was so tall and so thick I ran it over with a brush hog, and then waited 4 weeks or so and started spraying the shoots.

I think it will take a 2-3 years to erradicate it, as you have to break the cycle of the seeds and the roots from shooting up, but well worth it.





Harvested Sweet Corn6/27/2012 1:35:16 PM

Finally harvested the first crop of sweet corn.  It is tasty, over-all the yield was very poor, many of the plants were dwarfed by drought and did not set corn properly.  What was picked is delicous.  First picking was about 150-175 ears of corn.  Sweet corn only lasts a few days, especially in 100 degree heat, so we ate it every day, sold some every and jarred up the rest.

I'm still learning, but the biggest thing is weed control, irrigation, and a planter !




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