When you spend a good chunk of money on an ATV, you hope it will last a long time. To get many years of fun off-road adventures out of your ATV, you must stay on top of regular maintenance to keep it in pristine condition. Don’t worry! It might sound like a lot of work, but there’s actually some quick and easy tasks that will help your ATV stay functioning properly for years to come! Let’s get started…
Clean it Up! Wash Your ATV
First up is to keep your ATV clean after each ride. Maybe you just now thought to yourself, “Leaving that mud on my ATV just adds character.” Well, that’s all fine and good if you want that new ATV to start rusting. Yeah, that will be a sad situation you don’t want to have happen. When you leave mud and dirt on your ATV, it holds moisture to the metal and can result in rust. So, when you are done with a fun trail ride, use a regular garden hose at low pressure, wash and dry your ATV really well to remove all dirt and mud. A high-pressure washer could damage your ATV.
Things to Change: Fluids, Filters and Such...
To keep your ATV running strong, there are a few routine maintenance items you should perform. Be sure to follow the instructions in the owner’s manual that came with your ATV. The good news is there may be some tasks in the manual that you can do yourself!
Change the Oil
At a minimum, you or a trained mechanic should change the oil at the scheduled maintenance times listed in the owner’s manual that came with your ATV. However, you may need to change your oil more frequently depending on how often you ride and the terrain you ride on. Be sure to use the manufacturer’s recommended engine oil specified in your owner’s manual, make sure the engine is completely cool, and wear appropriate clothing, gloves, and safety glasses if you decide to change the oil yourself. You could damage your ATV if you change the oil incorrectly. If in doubt, find a qualified mechanic to change the oil and filter for you. Lastly, state and federal laws require proper disposal of used engine oil, so it cannot be dumped on soil, in water, or down drains or sewers.
Keeping your air filter clean is extremely important to the performance of your ATV! A dirty or clogged air filter will deprive your engine of the amount of air needed for the ATV to run properly and could damage the engine. After each ride, you need to check your air filter. You might find just some debris, like leaves or dirt particles that can be cleaned off, or you might need to change the filter completely if it is torn or cannot be cleaned. If you find yourself out on a ride and your ATV is struggling to get the kind of momentum it had earlier in the day, you should check the air filter right then for any mud or debris that might be blocking the air from circulating. If you ride your ATV in the sand, it’s very common for the sand to build up in the air filter, resulting in needing to check and clean the filter multiple times throughout the riding day.
Check the Radiator
After each ride, when you wash your ATV, you need to make sure you get your radiator good and clean, too! When spraying down the radiator, make sure you get all the mud and debris buildup completely washed off or your radiator could function poorly. It is important not to use a high-pressure hose though when spraying the radiator or you could damage the radiator and its parts. After your ATV’s engine has completely cooled off, you also should check the coolant levels in the radiator and make sure the radiator cap isn’t cracked or damaged. Be sure to wear safety glasses whenever you check your ATV’s coolant levels because steam can escape and cause burns. Your radiator is very important to the health of your engine. If your radiator doesn’t work properly, your engine could overheat.
Cleaning your radiator and checking the fluids in it is a small step to prevent you from having to replace the entire engine! Aside from checking your radiator after each ride, it’s recommended you change the radiator fluid periodically. Check the maintenance schedule in your ATV’s owner’s manual to find out how often the radiator fluid needs to be flushed and what brand of coolant to use.
Gasoline in Your ATV When Not in Use
Gasoline starts to breakdown after about two weeks of sitting idle. You don’t want to run your ATV with old, broken-down gasoline. When your ATV is not in use (any amount of time over a two-week period) you need to either drain out all the gasoline from the tank and all lines of your ATV or use a fuel stabilizer, which can be purchased at any parts store. Draining the fuel tank can be hazardous and should not be attempted without proper training. Owner’s manuals recommend riders trust this type of maintenance work to a qualified mechanic at your local ATV dealer.
Some manufacturers recommend replacing the spark plugs in your ATV after about 100 hours of use. Check the maintenance schedule in your ATV’s owner’s manual to determine what is recommended for your ATV. However, if you have a hard time getting your ATV engine to start, it could be a sign you need to go ahead and replace your spark plugs.
Know the Nuts and Bolts
It’s important to get familiar with all the parts of your ATV. Look over every aspect of it and know where all the parts, nuts, bolts, etc. are located. After each ATV ride, you need to inspect your ATV fully for any damage. While you are inspecting your ATV, you should tighten any loose nuts and bolts. When going through rough terrain, if a bolt were come loose, part of your ATV could break apart while driving, which could result in damage to your ATV or a dangerous accident.
Don’t let your adventures get cut short. Follow these ATV maintenance steps to help keep your ATV running strong for many years. Not only will proper maintenance help the longevity of your ATV, but it also will help prevent possible accidents caused by an ATV malfunction.