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Spring Cleaning and Maintenance for Your ATV

ATV Tires

Saturday was Cinco de Mayo, a date we all recognize for General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin€'s crushing defeat of the French Army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. This is an important date in Mexican history, as well as that of the United States. You see, since the Battle of Puebla 150 years ago this week, no European military force has invaded any nation in either North or South America.  To celebrate, most people participate in music and dancing and hanging César Chávez banners from their windows.  Personally, I prefer to celebrate the historical success of our friends in the south by getting my ATV ready for the season€”followed by a barbecue, of course.

Your ATV Tires
Many folks in most parts of the country don€'t do a lot of ATV riding during the winter, and instead, park their machines until springtime. Well, here we are. April showers have given way to May flowers, so it€'s time to get those quad tires out of the garage and back on the trail. However, if you€'re like me, you€'ll want to take care of your ATV before you ride.  So head out to the garage, crank up your Selena or Romeo Santos or Freddy Fender or whomever you like, and get busy kicking those 4 wheeler tires back into shape for the season. Here are a few suggestions for taking proper care of your machine.

If you rode during the winter, you may have installed a good snow tire like the Kenda Snow Mad to get around on the slippery ice and crunchy snow of the season. It€'s time to pop those bad boys off and reinstall your all-terrain tires, whether they be your used ATV tires from last season or that new set of Carlisle ATV tires you€'ve been eyeballing at ATV Tire Store.  Make sure you have the right tire for the kind of riding you plan on doing this year.

Even though you may have changed the tires, don€'t forget to inspect them.  Look for cracks, bulges, and tread quality, especially on used ATV tires. Most important of all, inflate them to the proper level. Manufacturers recommend specific PSI levels on tires for a reason, and you should take care to adhere to them.  Properly inflated tires improve safety, performance, and longevity.  Most ATV tire pressures range from 2-10 PSI.  Don€'t just guess and over-inflated. Higher pressure levels may be required for ATV hard surface tires, so be sure to follow manufacturer€'s recommendations.

ATV Wheels
While you€'re checking the breaks, take a look at the ATV wheels as well.  Check them for cracks or dents and to see if they are just plain broken.  It happens.  During the course of a season, you bang into a lot of rocks or logs or trash cans in front of your neighbor€'s house, and damage can occur.  Now, at the start of the season, is the best time to take account of these potential problems.

Maintenance for Your ATV
Now, suit up, because it€'s time to get a little dirty.  Check all the fluid levels on your machine.  If you didn€'t change your oil and filter last fall, now is the time.  Remember that some models need the transmission oil changed as well.  Check the floor below for leaks.  The same goes for your air filter€ - clean it or change it. Check your spark plug for proper gap and cleanliness.

As for your gas, fuel left sitting for a long time can separate and gum up your carburetor.  It can also have difficulty igniting.   Did you remember to put fuel stabilizer in before you parked your ATV/UTV for the winter?  If not, drain the fuel in the tank and consider cleaning the carburetor if needed.

Check the brake cables for tightness, kinks, or frays.  Get right in close to your ATV€'s tires and check the brake pads.  If you need to pull the tires off to check the pads, then do it.  The last thing you want is for one of your kids to have brakes that fail while they are making their way down a steep slope or barreling towards a dangerous intersection.  The importance of the quality and condition of your brakes cannot be overstated.  Take care of them.  Whether you have Maxxis tires on your Polaris Ranger or discount ATV tires on your Can-Am Outlander, be sure you have a braking system that is in good working order.

If you drained the CVT compartment in the fall, be sure the drain screw or plug is back in place.  Check hoses for holes or cuts.  Lubricate everything that needs lubricating such as levers, controls, cables, etc.  If the battery died over the winter, charge it up.  A good way to avoid this is to start your ATV every month and let it run for 20-30 minutes.  Be sure to take a close look at the battery terminals and clean off any corrosion that is there.

Don€'t forget to test all of the lights for proper working conditions and pack extra fuses in your toolkit as well.  Look over all of your gear and ATV accessories.  Are all of the storage boxes properly attached?  Is your toolkit fully stocked?  Do you have all the maps you need?  What about insurance and registration?  Are they current and properly affixed to the machine?  Is your helmet in good working order?

The towing apparatus needs inspection as well.  Check the trailer hitch and lights for proper functions.  Inspect tie downs for rot, frays, or cuts.  Make sure loading ramps aren€'t rusted or broken.

Last, but not least, grab a hose or a power washer and clean everything.  Once you have finished, settle back with some José Cuervo or perhaps a nice tall glass of pink limonada and thank General Seguin and the Mexican Army for making this day possible.

Ryan Richards

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