Top 10Tips to Extend the Life of Your ATV (1-5)

Date:Sep 10, 2020

1. Follow the Break-in Procedure

You need to give your ATV some time to get used to running and operating, and to give the oil and other fluids time to flow and do what they are supposed to do.

I know some folks who've gone out and dropped a hefty chunk of change on two brand spanking new ATVs. Within a week, they brought both of them back to the dealership, claiming the "hunks of junk" broke down.

They weren't very eager or happy to admit that they took them out and spent the first day they had them spinning doughnuts in a mud pit and seeing how fast they could go. The dealer was happy to let his service department hit them with a nice repair bill, though.

Follow the recommended break-in procedures. You'll be much happier in the long run.


2. Change/Check the Oil

Would you go out and buy a brand new truck and never check or change the oil? Of course you wouldn't. Heck, you wouldn't do that in an old beater you bought to haul firewood around at a hunting camp. The gas may make the ATV go, but the oil keeps it running.

Checking the oil on ATVs and UTVs is easy, and changing it is way easier than on your car or truck. Follow the owner's manual for the recommended oil weight and type. The smaller engines on ATVs are far more sensitive to different oil weights than your truck's engine.

It won't cost you a ton of money either because your ATV's engine only needs a few quarts of oil at most. Pick up a few extra quarts of oil to have on hand to top it off when necessary. Just like your truck's engine oil, the oil in your ATV's engine catches all that dirt and gunk that gets in there after hauling you down the trail. You don't want to keep that stuff in there, do you? No, of course not.

Check your oil often. I like to do it every time I fill the gas tank and at least once a week on top of that. Follow your owner's manual recommended change schedule to keep your machine running strong.


3. Routinely Wash

Ever see those guys driving around town with mud all over their trucks or SUVs after they just had a ton of fun? Ever see them driving around with dried mud and all that other nastiness because they don't want to wash off their "badge of honor?" Some folks don't like to wash off their dirt for whatever reason.

Don't be that guy! Sure, I like getting my ATVs dirty. I'm not real big on mud, but if it happens to get muddy, so be it.

I can tell you that during hunting season, my ATVs get filthy, especially hauling decoys out into the muddy fields every morning to set up for flocks of Canada geese. It's really important to wash that mud and junk off, though. Mud and dirt trap moisture against the metal on your vehicle. Moisture and steel don't mix very well, even when there is a healthy coat of paint between them.

If you let it sit long enough, you're going to regret it when the rust demons start eating away at your machine.

Mud and dirt also can affect your engine's performance.They can work their way into the air filter, causing you to have to clean it more often, and dirt and dust can clog up the vents and other parts of your machine.

So wash it off. Make sure you cover up all of the intakes and other parts of your machine that don't react too well to wetness when doing so.


4. Keep a Clean Air Filter

A little basics in mechanics here. To put it simply, your engine only needs three things to cycle: gas, air and spark. Gas goes from the tank into the fuel system, either through a carburetor or an electronic fuel injection system. There it mixes with air and becomes an air-fuel mixture before traveling to the cylinders, where a spark ignites the compressed mixture and the resulting explosion depresses the piston, turns the crank and bang, you're riding down the trail.

To make all of this happen, you need air — good, clean air. To keep a healthy supply of kosher air flowing into your engine, you need to make sure that your air filter is clean and dry. Modern machines have air filters up higher than ever, designed for more protection from incoming water and dirt, but you still need to check the intakes and filters, and more often than you would on your truck.

After a dusty, dirty ride, it's a good idea to check the air filter right away. Also, if you store your machine over the winter or use it intermittently, be sure to check the air filter before you cold-start your machine. Little critters seem to love ATV air filters for winter nests.


5. Check the Belt

ust about all modern machines run on a CV belt transmission, much like a snowmobile. These types of transmissions allow the engine to operate efficiently without the need for a manual clutch. They let you just shift into whatever range you're riding in and then give it gas.

The downside is that you need to check these belts as they can become stretched and worn out, especially if you often ride it hard, or if you frequent water crossings or extreme terrain.

Now, it's not always easy to check the CV belt, so be aware of how the machine feels and drives. When a belt starts to go, the machine will not shift smoothly, and you'll being to notice severe performance issues.

There's also a smell. Ever have a belt go on a car? You smelled it first, didn't you? That nasty, burning rubber odor. Yeah, it's the same with an ATV. Of course, if you don't drive like an idiot and take care of your machine, your belt could faithfully last for years. Just keep an eye on it.



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