An ATV or all-terrain vehicle is an off-highway vehicle which is built to run on four low-pressure tires. Its seat is designed to be straddled by the driver and is built with handlebars for steering control. ATVs come in different shapes and sizes, with varying engines and purpose. While owning one is not really considered a necessity like owning a car, owning one has a lot of advantages. It can provide fun for the whole family. However, when it comes to maintaining it, it can be a bit challenging. ATV owners tend to do the common ATV maintenance mistakes which include not taking care of the wheels, not cleaning mud after riding in mud, not changing oil and filters, failing to clean it, allowing the fuel to go bad, neglecting the radiator, and not checking the bolts.
It is important that you avoid these common ATV maintenance mistakes since it can lead to problems such as engine running too rich or too lean, increased fuel consumption, bad spark plugs, engine running rough, and engine overheating. Although it can be a bit challenging to maintain an ATV, following routine maintenance can save you a lot of trouble and money since you won’t have to deal with a very expensive repair bill later on. Continue reading if you want to know more as we discuss the most common ATV maintenance mistakes!
Common ATV Maintenance Mistakes: How Do You Ruin an ATV?
Owning an ATV is considered a big investment since it is not cheap. Since you have spent a large sum of money to buy an ATV, it is only right that you take good care of it and make sure that it will last for a long time. You need to maintain it properly since ATVs deal with a lot of mud, dust, and off-road driving.
Many people might think that ATVs are made for a dirty or rugged life since they look tough or sturdy, but like cars, they need you to take good care of them. This misconception can lead to a lot of common ATV maintenance mistakes. The common ATV maintenance mistakes are some of the best ways to ruin an ATV. If you don’t maintain it like you should, you will have to shell out a hefty amount of money for the repair bills.
The most common ATV maintenance mistakes made by ATV owners include:
- Not doing oil changes
Just like cars, ATVs also need maintenance and service. Some of the maintenance it needs are oil, oil filter, and air filter changes. Not doing these changes is one of the common ATV maintenance mistakes an ATV owner can do.
Changing your oil regularly is very important since oil gets dirty and contaminated over time. Oil tends to collect junk such as dirt, metal shavings from engine wear, and other debris. If you drive your ATV in water puddles or snow, it will be likely that your oil will be contaminated with water too. When this happens and you have been neglecting oil changes, it may cause damage to its engine which can leave you stranded somewhere.
To prevent this from happening, you need to change your oil regularly. Ideally, you should change your oil about every 100 hours of use or at least once per year. However, oil change intervals can vary depending on the model of your ATV and brand. To find out any specific details or instructions about your ATV, you can consult your owner’s manual. While at it, also take note what type of oil and filter you should purchase and use on your ATV.
If you drive your ATV in the colder months, make sure that you change your oil and use oil with an appropriate weight so it can withstand the colder temperatures. If you store your ATV away for winter or at the end of your season, if you are a seasonal rider, make sure that you change its oil before storing it away.
- Not changing the filters
The oil filters and air filters need to be changed regularly. Not changing these filters is one of the common ATV maintenance mistakes. When the oil filter has not been changed for a while and its ability to filter oil properly has been compromised, it may lead to grit, dirt, and other particle build up that will harm your engine. When this happens, you will have to deal with a very expensive repair bill. This can also reduce the lifespan of your ATV.
The air filter of your ATV should also be changed regularly. However, if it is not time for a replacement yet, you should clean it on a regular basis. This should be done because the engine may wear down from sucking in dirty particles and this can lead to severe damage. Bear in mind that the engine needs fuel and air for it to run properly.
When the air filter of your ATV is dirty, the engine will suck dirt into the engine or it will limit the amount of air getting sucked in. When air is prevented from being sucked into the engine, it can lead to interior damage to the engine and loss of power. If you drive your ATV casually, you need to clean your air filter after having a very dirty ride. You can clean it twice a day if needed.
It is said that when your face is dirty after the ride, it is most likely that your air filter is dirty too. You need to check it and clean it. It will only take around 10 minutes to clean it. It might only seem like a small effort but it can have a big impact on your ATV. Cleaning and replacing your air filter can help extend the life of your engine and your ATV.
It is for these reasons why you need to change your oil filter and air filters regularly. If you use your ATV frequently in dusty areas or conditions, you should change them more often. Check your ATV’s owner’s manual to know the recommended oil change and filter change schedule. Make sure that you follow them. While you’re at it, you can also check your coolant level as well as the level of the other fluids in your ATV.
- Not checking all the bolts
Since ATVs are often driven on “challenging” terrains or on different surface conditions, it usually takes quite a beating. All the vibrations tend to loosen the ATV’s bolts, especially the ones in the steering and suspension. Make it a habit to check the bolts on your ATV after every ride. If you notice that its bolts have loosened, tighten them to spec.
The tires of your ATV also have various nuts and bolts such as lug nuts, skid plate bolts, axle nuts, pivot bolts, wheel hubs, and sprocket bolts. That is why it is important to check your tires as well after driving your ATV since the tires are the ones that take the direct impact from the terrain. It means that they can wear out much faster than the other ATV components.
- Not checking tire pressure
Aside from checking all the bolts and nuts of your ATV tires, you also need to check their tire pressure. Having incorrect tire pressure on your ATV can lead to a number of problems. If the tire pressure is too low, it will be easier to puncture your tire which can leave you with a flat tire.
Not having the right ATV tire pressure also causes you to have less control over your ATV as well as cause uneven wear on your tires. When this happens, you will have to replace your tires more often. To check your tire pressure, you can use a low pressure tire gauge. You should adjust it as needed to get the recommended PSI.
Do not overfill or underfill it. If you should adjust the tire pressure above or below the recommended PSI, you should only do it for certain riding styles like driving in the sand, snow, or when you have to make aggressive corners.
- Not taking care of the radiator
The radiator of your ATV is the one responsible for keeping the engine cool. That is why it is vital to check it regularly as well as its coolant level before you go for a drive. You also need to check it after every ride, especially if you are driving through areas full of sand, dirt, or mud. You need to check if mud, dirt, and other particles have found their way on your radiator and clean them.
Not taking care of the radiator is considered as one of the common ATV maintenance mistakes since if you have been neglecting it, mud or dirt can choke your radiator which will lead to an overheated engine. It is something you don’t want to deal with since it is very expensive to repair. You will know if you have some radiator issues when you smell a burnt odor or when your coolant starts to mix with your oil system.
To prevent this from happening, you need to make it a habit to keep your radiator clean. You should also make sure that your coolant level is maintained to keep your engine from overheating. To clean your radiator after every couple of dirty rides, you can use a pressure washer. You will know if the radiator is clean when you notice that the water flows through it and not splashing back at you.
- Not washing it
Aside from cleaning off mud from your radiator, you should also clean your entire ATV after each ride, especially if you are going to store it after. If you have driven in a very muddy area and you allowed mud or dirt to dry off on your ATV without cleaning it, it is most likely that the dirt or dried mud will get into several components of your ATV. It can also contaminate your fluids or may get sucked into your air intake.
When this happens, it can cause a number of damages. Mud should also be cleaned since it can hide other issues such as damaged components or loose bolts or nuts. When you fail to clean your ATV, it can lead to a slow degradation of its suspension components and rust may start to develop. You don’t want to deal with these issues since it can cause premature wear and can reduce the life of your ATV.
- Improper storage and fuel care
One of the common ATV maintenance mistakes is not minding the fuel in your ATV when you are storing it. When your ATV season is over, proper storage should always be done to make sure that your ATV will last for a long time. If you know that you won’t use your ATV for a long period, you should not allow its fuel to go bad.
It is because fuel degrades over time. If you leave fuel in your lines for a long period, the fuel will eat them from the inside out. Fuel breaks down and when it happens, it will start to deteriorate the plastic in the fuel lines and carburetor.
If you will be storing your ATV for a while, you can do either of the two things to make sure that fuel won’t harm your ATV – by adding fuel stabilizer to the gasoline or by draining the fuel tank completely. Adding fuel stabilizer can help keep the fuel from breaking down, extending the fuel’s life for 1 to 3 years depending on the product you use.
Whichever method you choose, you need to make sure that there is no fuel in the lines. The fuel should be in the tank. If not, the fuel in the lines will degrade and cause damage to your lines.
Taking good care of your ATV is important to make sure that you and your family will get to enjoy it for a long time. Just make sure you avoid doing these common ATV maintenance mistakes.