Whether you have a four-wheeler, dirt bike, side-by-side, or a truck to take you off-road, maintenance is the key to getting many years of enjoyment out of your ATV. An amazing fact is that many people never (I mean never) do any regular maintenance on their ATVs. Your owner's manual will give a maintenence schedule for you to follow. The following list gives a few items to be sure to maintain on a regular basis. Depending on your riding style and use for your ATV, you may want to maintain these things more often.
Engine Oil and Filter- Engine oil has been called the "life blood" for any engine. While different manufacturers recommend different increments as to when to change the oil, all of them agree you need to CHANGE YOUR OIL! No one item is more important to maintain in order to get maximum life out of your motor. You can always use the manufacturers' brand of oil, or there are several after-market oil manufacturers which make top quality oils. Amsoil is just one you might consider. No matter what you decide, however, change your oil and filter regularly. At a minimum, you should change it as often as the manufacturer recommends, and many riders change it more often than that.
Air Filter- Check your air filter on a regular basis. Most riders buy aftermarket filters, so all you have to do is wash the air filter and then oil it. If you use disposable filters, then replace them (with an aftermarket one referred to above). Doing this not only saves gas, but helps your engine run better.
Grease Your Fittings- All the grease points on an ATV help the vehicle reduce friction in parts you don't want to break. The grease also keeps unwanted things like water and dust from getting in those important parts. In our experience, it seems this procedure is often over-looked (maybe because grease fittings are so small). Some riders pump grease into their fittings before each ride. We recommend this practice. It never hurts to have a little extra grease
Tire Pressure- Just keep an eye on the tire pressure to make sure it stays at the appropriate level, as recommended in your owner's manual.
Brake Fluid- It goes without saying how important it is to be able to stop when you want to. The best way to ensure this is to glance at the film in your brake fluid reservoir, located on your handlebars next to your brake lever, and fill it when it gets low.
Coolant- Keeping your coolant at the proper level is easy and important. Check it often.
Transmission Oil- Your transmission oil is the "life blood" for your transmission, so change it also. Manufacturers will recommend the frequency of this in your owner's manual.
Differential Fluid- Checking the diff fluid is difficult on many ATVs because of the location of the fill hole. This has a tendency to keep people from checking their levels and changing the diff fluid. "Out of sight out of mind" when it comes to differentials is a not a good approach to take. In everyday riding, you do not have to change the diff. fluid very often, so just follow your owner's manual. In extreme conditions such as mud or water, it is good to change it regularly or at least check it regularly. If mud, water, or debris gets into your diff, it can cause the parts to seize or corrode, causing failure. Checking for debris in your fluid is particularly important if you ride in these conditions.
Brake Pads- Brakes on an ATV are just like brakes in a car. Don't overlook checking the brake pads for wear, and replace them when necessary.
Fuel Filter- This should get changed at regular intervals as your manufacturer recommends. If you ever submerge your ATV in water, or have it in the water regularly, then you should consider changing the filter more often than recommended.
Batteries- Batteries eventually go bad no matter what we do to maintain them, and spending $100 or more on a new battery can cause heart-burn. There are some ways to maintain a battery to make it last as long as possible. Keep it charged, particularly in the off-season. If you are going to be setting aside your ATV for a few months, then put a battery tender on it in order to keep it charged. Several companies make battery tenders which keep a low amp flow of electricity on the battery all the time. You can find these devices at ATV dealers, auto parts stores, and large discount stores such as Walmart. Having a battery go completely dead causes it to lose its ability to take a charge. To maximize the battery's useful life be sure to keep it charged.
CV Boots- If your ATV is equiped with independent suspension you will notice there are two rubber-like boots on your axles between your differentials and wheels. These are your CV boots. Your CV boots seal the connections of these axle pieces. They are then sealed with clamps, and are filled with grease. If a tear or hole is put into the boots, water, dust, and debris will get into them and cause major problems. You want to inspect the boots on a regular basis to make sure nothing has punctured them. If something has, then you will need to take the boots off, make sure there is a proper amount of clean grease in the joints, and put new boots on.
Considering the investment made into purchasing an ATV, along with the desire to be able to rely on it out on the trail, track, and farm or ranch, we should give a high priority to keeping our ATVs in tip-top shape. For some reason it seems the maintenance tends to be put in the back of our priorities. The above list should hit the high points of keeping your ATV in prime working condition for many years to come. We will see you on the trail!
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