8 Most Common Kubota Sidekick Problems & Troubleshooting

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By Marvin Tucker

Farming Equipment

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The Sidekick is designed to be just what the name says, a helpful sidekick that will assist you with all your laborious tasks that need getting done. Whether that’s farmwork, digging, towing, or dumping. This guy can do it all.

Designed to be fast, reliable, and user-friendly. And coming from a trusted manufacturer like Kubota, you can be sure that the quality is up to par!

With that being said, there have been numerous issues that users have reported encountering with this utility vehicle that, as a prospective buyer, you should be aware of.

So in this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at all the issues the Kubota Sidekick faces and how to fix them. Then we’ll share our thoughts on whether this is a worthy investment of your hard-earned cash.

The most common problems with the Kubota Sidekick

This Kubota tractor comes with a slew of features that make it more than capable of whatever tasks are at hand, from the powerful, 48hp engine, to their ‘worry-free’ CVT Plug transmission with a centrifugal clutch to keep the belts tight with minimal slippage.

Everything about this Kubota UTV is designed to make your life easier. And by and large, maintenance and upkeep are a breeze making this an excellent purchase for the first-time utility tractor owner too!

Sound great! So what are these issues that so many users are reporting? Some of them are superfluous issues with design flaws that make the operation of the machine a little more troublesome.

Others are more serious engine-related problems that require some good upkeep to avoid more issues.

1. The small doors

This is designed to be a trouble-free ‘sidekick’ to all the typical errands you want to run correctly. Conscious and deliberate design decisions have been made to make accessibility as easy as possible.

However, one area of complaint is that the doors are pretty small. The intention is to provide you as a user with unhindered access to the outside environment without having to leave the vehicle. 

While this sounds ideal on paper, that over-exposure to the environment can have negative effects such as additional susceptibility to the elements and be overly open to things such as branches or flying objects.

The result to the end user is this experience of being slightly unsafe, and buyers have made it clear they would’ve preferred a little more protection.

2. Driving and control difficulties

While not such an issue for general tractor/mowing applications, as this is designed to be a sidekick, you may often want to use it on rough land or in non-open-field applications.

However, this Kubota model doesn’t seem to respond particularly well to acceleration, and users have described it as feeling ‘jumpy,’ which can become a real issue when trying to navigate tight or densely wooded areas.

There is also a non-user-friendly safety feature called the ‘speed governor,’ designed to limit your speed when the seatbelt is not engaged.

While users understand the intention is safety, the reality is when you’re looking to jump into the sidekick and drive from spot to spot in quick succession, you will constantly need to engage and disengage the seatbelt, which eats up time, energy, and patience.

3. Difficulty sourcing replacement parts

Kubota provides a limited warranty for two years or up to 500 hours of use (whichever comes first). And while we would have liked to see a 6-year warranty, this Kubota model is reliable enough to where this is acceptable.

But inevitably, no matter how good the design and QA are, users will have parts fail. And many users have experienced delays in receiving replacement parts from their closest dealer.

While you may not be dealing with Kubota directly, those dealers still source the parts from the manufacturer, and we think Kubota could be better with their process and delivery speeds of replacement parts.

Because if you’re in the middle of a big or urgent job and suddenly you’re waiting for a slow delivery on a part, it’s going to be very frustrating.

4. Safety design concerns

Kubota should be commended for certain safety design elements such as the hefty front bumper, the roll cage, and mesh backplate to protect you should anything fall from the load you are towing.

However, many users feel this isn’t adequate when considering the rough terrain this tractor is designed to be used in. The small doors and seatbelts will provide little protection against being ejected from the vehicle should it tip for any reason.

So beginners should drive cautiously and keep speeds low to ensure maximum safety.

5. Overuse of plastic bodyparts

While you can’t knock Kubota for wanting to keep the price as low as possible, it’s also one of the core reasons the machine is even accessible to beginners.

There is perhaps overuse of plastic on the machine, where certain parts that are quite likely to sustain impacts will most likely sustain damage.

Their high tensile strength plastic is quite good, but severe impacts will almost certainly damage or break it.

A slightly more selective and careful choice of which parts should be plastic or not would have made this Kubota RTV 900 quite a bit more appealing, as potential buyers may be put off if they know they will knock the machine around a little bit and that it might get damaged.

6. Aesthetic issues

While we usually only cover issues relating to the performance and safety of the machine, this one has been brought up enough by users that it’s a valid concern and worth mentioning.

It’s ugly. Some users have even described it as an ‘upgraded gold cart.’

While the finishing work itself is sleek and durable, and the understated color use gives it a modern and efficient look. The actual design of the sidekick looks like it’s been pieced together from random lego blocks to fulfill every functional need that Kubota wanted from the machine.

Now for some users, this won’t be an issue as they value purely function. But many users want to feel good about their vehicle and drive it with a sense of pride. In that sense, Kubota would have significantly benefitted from putting a little bit more thought into the aesthetic design of the machine. Just some minor tweaks could have improved it a lot visually.

7. Difficult cleaning maintenance

This is less of an aesthetic issue and infringes on the vehicle’s performance. Mainly as this is intended to be used on rougher and wooded terrain, it will quickly pick up debris and dirt.

It’s been noted that because of the boxy design, there are a lot of hidden areas and crevices which make cleaning the vehicle troublesome.

Not only does this make primary maintenance and upkeep just that little bit more troublesome, but it’s also going to have adverse effects on the performance as additional dirt and debris may clog up the filters faster, resulting in even more work for you as an end user.

8. The engine doesn’t start

The engine not starting can be a very troublesome issue when you’re ready to start your day and suddenly have to troubleshoot the engine.

However, this problem is not unique to the Sidekick, and if you employ a good maintenance routine, you should be able to keep your utility vehicle in good working order.

  • The first thing to check is that there is adequate fuel. A low fuel level will result in the engine being unable to begin the combustion process.
  • Old or stale fuel. Unfortunately, fuel degrades over time, so if your Kubota RTV has been sitting in storage all winter and you find it’s unable to start, despite having enough fuel in the fuel tank. You’ll need to discard the old fuel and fill it back up with new, fresh fuel.
  • Contaminated fuel. If you have any breach points within the fuel system, the fuel may have become contaminated with water or dirt. If you take a sample of fuel and notice particulate, you should discard the entire fuel tank and use fresh fuel.
  • Defective spark plug. This is responsible for generating a tiny electric spark that will ignite the atomized fuel from the fuel injectors into the engine, thus starting the combustion process. If the spark plug dies, then the engine will not start. This component is cheap and easy to replace, so use a new one.
  • Check that the air intake is not blocked. If this becomes so blocked airflow into the engine is restricted, the engine will not start as it requires the correct fuel-to-air ratio to fire up. Clean this out as necessary.

Kubota Sidekick Problems: Are they a deal-breaker?

As you can see, for a machine geared towards slightly more rugged use and on rougher terrain, there are some design problems with the machine that you should be completely aware of before making a purchase.

Because of these issues, we think it’s worth looking at other utility tractors around this price range to see if there’s anything else that suits your needs better.

But if you’ve read the problems listed above and are confident they aren’t of such great importance to you, then we can highly recommend this machine as sturdy and reliable as they come!

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