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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m looking for a little advice from the experts here. I’m going to go take a look at a red 1988 Honda Foreman 350 that is for sale by a private owner today.

There isn’t much known history. Apparently the current owner purchased it some time ago and it wasn’t running. He had the timing chain and the valves replaced by a mechanic along with the rear brake shoes. He told me the valves were replaced because they had a slight indentation in them. It now runs.

What should I look for when I go to see it? I didn’t think that the valves could make contact with anything on this engine? Does that sound plausible?

It appears to be in good shape from the photos I’ve seen and he is asking about $1900 for it. I think that is a little steep as the NADA guide says $1800 in Excellent condition and $1285 in Very Good condition.

Thanks for your help!!!
 

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Valves can get hit with the piston if it jumps time. If it's fixed it's fixed though, wouldn't be any lasting effects. These machines are pretty tough, just look for the usual stuff, leaks, ripped boots, check the oil, check the diffs if you want, check for play in wheel bearings, rod ends, ball joints??, swingarm bearings etc. Check the air filter, that's usually a decent indicator of how the machine has been treated, look for signs of water/mud getting in the airbox.

Title is a bit sketchy, depends on where the machine is as some states don't require titles on ATV's. Up here everything has to have a title to register it to use on the trails so anything with no title you might as well cut the value in half. You can always check the VIN online, so make sure you know where to look for that, or have the owner provide it for you before going to look at it. There is a few different sites to look up VIN's.
 

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I'd personally stay away from anything without papers myself
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
He said that it had jumped time and that was why he had to replace the timing chain and I believe the intake valves.

We need a title to get stickers here too but I’ve never seen anyone check for them in the several years I’ve been riding.
 

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I'm thinking stolen bike without a title
 

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Not having a title—lost it? Is he the original owner or did he buy it from someone else? What’s the likelihood you could get a title?

No title, well depends on where you live. Sometimes a bill of sale is enough. You can get a Federal trail pass without a registration, so you can still have fun with it. Does it have a VIN? VIN located on frame above the tag.
Does it clatter or knock when running? Does it shift thru all five gears? Does it do reverse? Does the oil light come on momentarily when you turn on ignition? Does neutral light come on, how bout reverse.
To get the fan to come on you would have to drive it in 2nd gear for about 15 minutes, so I don’t recommend that unless the owner would let you.
A new timing chain job runs about $600.

$1900 is high depending on how it runs. In my area they will sell for $1800 to $2200 in good condition. Keep in mind most parts for this are no longer available thru the dealer.

Check service manual and parts available thru my link below
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you all for the input! I really, really appreciate it!

I went and looked at the bike and DID NOT buy it. I REALLY wanted to come home with one but it wasn’t going to be that one and not for that price. There were numerous red flags on the play. In no particular order here are the ones I can remember:

No title, bought it from someone a year ago he claims and he never had the title but I knew that going in.

It was running when I pulled up but he shut it off as I got out of the truck. Possibly cold start issues.

He tried to kick start it and it wouldn’t start. He only tried a few times but none the less it didn’t start.

No oil temp light on start up.

All the plastic was rattle canned red. Most of the plastic was stitched together with zip ties reminding me of Frankenstein.

Tires going bad with cracks

Left forward CV book leaking

Some homemade cobbled together exhaust system that was very loud and probably making the engine run lean. Possibly what lead to the other issues he had with the timing chain and valves.

Front brakes were almost non existent.

It seemed to shift a little funny and sloppy.

Gas gauge LED’s were a little intermittent.

Side panels were missing

After a quick test drive and upon stopping the idle kept climbing on its own. Possibly another indication that it was running lean or other carb/adjustment issues.

That’s just the things that I can remember off the top of my head. He said he was pretty firm on the price. Firm or not, I wasn’t bringing that home with me. It might make someone else happy but to me it looked like way too much I would want/need to fix.

Oh well, I’ll just keep looking.

Thanks again for all of your advice!
 

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Sounds like that was more of a $500 machine than $1900!

Rob
 
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WAY high on the price. That's a $400 bike, and only worth that because someone will pay $250 for the rear end to swap in a 300....
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yeah, I’m glad I turned him down. It just wasn’t for me. He apparently sold it to a farmer later in the day.
 

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I went and looked at the bike and DID NOT buy it. Thanks again for all of your advice!
Good for you and you made a wise decision. I suspect you have learned from that experience to "quiz" them pretty good over the phone so you don't have to waste time to inspect the next unit....

Best of luck in the search and be patience.
 

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Are you looking for a good early Fourtrax or are you open to later model Rancher or Foreman?

I have an 86 and a 93 Fourtrax 4x4. I’m tickled pink with both but my hands down fave is the Chili Pepper.

I have 13 work Hondas with the newest an 06 Rancher—it’s a real good outfit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Are you looking for a good early Fourtrax or are you open to later model Rancher or Foreman?

I have an 86 and a 93 Fourtrax 4x4. I’m tickled pink with both but my hands down fave is the Chili Pepper.

I have 13 work Hondas with the newest an 06 Rancher—it’s a real good outfit.
I’m looking for a good dependable, maintainable, reasonably priced 4X4 to go trail riding on occasion that doesn’t have a standard clutch. I own a 2007 TRX400EX which has been a great bike but it’s ALOT of work to ride the mountain trails in Washington State. I bought it in Texas where there is less mountainous rocky terrain and more gentle hills and tracks.

As I get older the need for speed has diminished and the slower less work required bikes are appealing more.

I’d like to find one that isn’t prone to breaking, is reliable, has a title and that I won’t cry if I scratch it up. Also parts availability would be a plus. It doesn’t have to be super fancy. Just something to go trail riding on that won’t leave me stranded.

I initially was looking at the older Foreman’s because they were built like tanks and they also had a kick starter as a backup. My concern is parts availability like someone mentioned so I am definitely open to options and recommendations. Thanks!
 

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Are you looking for a good early Fourtrax or are you open to later model Rancher or Foreman?

I have an 86 and a 93 Fourtrax 4x4. I’m tickled pink with both but my hands down fave is the Chili Pepper.

I have 13 work Hondas with the newest an 06 Rancher–it’s a real good outfit.
I’m looking for a good dependable, maintainable, reasonably priced 4X4 to go trail riding on occasion that doesn’t have a standard clutch. I own a 2007 TRX400EX which has been a great bike but it’s ALOT of work to ride the mountain trails in Washington State. I bought it in Texas where there is less mountainous rocky terrain and more gentle hills and tracks.

As I get older the need for speed has diminished and the slower less work required bikes are appealing more.

I’d like to find one that isn’t prone to breaking, is reliable, has a title and that I won’t cry if I scratch it up. Also parts availability would be a plus. It doesn’t have to be super fancy. Just something to go trail riding on that won’t leave me stranded.

I initially was looking at the older Foreman’s because they were built like tanks and they also had a kick starter as a backup. My concern is parts availability like someone mentioned so I am definitely open to options and recommendations. Thanks!
I'd get a 300. They are the most common Honda so parts are always readily accessible. Reliable and easily upgraded.

The 350 Foremans are tanks, but you add the complexity of a fuel pump fuel system and solid front axle, and parts aren't getting any easier to find.
 
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