Spring Tune Up: ATV
By Midwest Traction on February 26, 2018
ATV fans, start your engines!
If your vehicle rested all winter, you’ll want to get it running so it’s ready for spring. If you’re in a temperate part of the US, congrats! You’ve gotten to bypass the winter snow. The rest of us feel the jealousy deep in our bones. If you’ve slogged through snow, spring’s arrival is much needed, so let’s make sure your ATV is ready to roll as soon as the snow lifts.
Clean Your Air Filter
Let’s start with something quick and easy: cleaning the air filter! Pull it out and give it a wash using filter cleaner. Then blow it dry and lubricate with filter oil.
If dust is a regular occurrence on your rides, it’s a good idea to use a high-quality pre-charger. This cuts down on the amount of maintenance you will have to do.
Your filters should be cleaned about once a month, depending on how often you use your ATV. You will need to clean it more frequently in dusty terrain and immediately after a particularly dusty ride.
Change Your Oil and Filter
Oil and filters should be drained and replaced at least once a year. While it’s routine maintenance, this step is crucial to performance during long rides in high heat, maintaining the health of your engine and transmission, reducing strain on your vehicle, extends your fuel mileage, and removes particle build-up. Though seemingly small, this step makes a huge difference in both the short term and the long term.
Condensation in Your Oil?
When your hot gear case and front differential get exposed to cool mud or water, condensation can contaminate the oil, which leads to engine malfunction. To check, use a clean zip tie. Dip it into the oil plug. If the oil appears milky, drain and refill immediately.
Did You Stabilize Your Fuel?
If you forgot to add fuel stabilizer before the winter season, you’ll need to drain your tank and refuel. The dramatic change in temperature can cause old fuel to clog your carburetor. You'll want to clean out your carburetor, too, just in case. While these things may seem excessive, a little extra work and preventative care can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in replacement costs.
Change Your ATV Tires
If you’ve been riding winter tires, it's time to swap them out for tires that perform well in dry terrain or mud, depending on where you plan to ride most of the season.
Check your tire pressure and follow the manufacturer recommended PSI. Even just a pound per square inch can make a huge difference in performance. Pressure that's too high causes uneven, quicker wear; pressure that's too low impairs steering and reduces safety. Examine tires for tread depth, and check the wheels to make sure they’re not damaged, dented, or rusted. Check out our How to Make Your ATV Tires Last Longer article to arm yourself with helpful tips to prolong their use.
Bellows and Boot
Your rubber vent bellows can be found on the gear case, and the rubber boots are on the wheels. If these are torn or look worse for wear, get them replaced before you take your ATV out again. Neglecting to address this issue can lead to expensive repairs.
A few quick things to give a once over:
- Check for leaks
- Check your spark plug and clean/replace if needed
- Change transmission oil if engine requires
- Examine brake cables for slack, kinks or frays
- Check your brake pads
- If you drained your CVT compartment before winter, ensure your drain screw or plug is in place, check the hoses for holes or cuts, and lubricate your levers, controls, cables, etc.
- Charge your battery if your ATV sat over the winter. Clean off corrosion. Make sure you wear protective eye and hand gear for this
- Test your lights and pack extra fuses in your toolkit
- Give your accessories a once-over to make sure everything is stocked, included your emergency supplies
- Make sure your license, registration, and insurance are up-to-date. Check out our article on ATV Insurance to make sure you have the coverage you need
- How does your safety gear look? Replace worn gloves, boots, and safety straps on any apparel as needed. Check out our Safety School: ATV article for a full list of what you should have
- Check your towing apparatus. Are the lights working? Are the tie downs in need of replacement? Make sure your trailer hitch is good and your loading ramp isn’t rusted or damaged. If you'll be hauling your ATV with a trailer, read our article on Trailer Tires for Hauling to make sure your trailer is ready for transport.
Last But Not Least
Grab a power washer and clean her up for your first ride!