Whether you’re into riding utility or sport quads, keeping your ATV in top condition should be a constant priority. You never want to deal with a serious issue while you’re in the deep woods on a trail. Although there are some things that will always require the training of a skilled mechanic, keeping up with a few key ATV maintenance tips can help prevent your ride from needing to hit the shop.
Here’s a quick checklist to run through before your next ride:
To keep your ATV’s engine purring like a kitten, you’ll first need to keep tabs on all its fluid levels. Make sure you always have fresh gas in the tank. Old gas can settle and, if you keep your quad outside, it could even collect water, which will hamper its performance.
Next, establish that your oil and coolant are at the right levels and of good quality. To ensure proper lubrication, use the exact oil type specified by your owner’s manual. If your engine is liquid-cooled, the coolant should be topped off to keep temperatures under control.
Get a Grip
Your ATV’s handlebars see a lot of action, and they must be in good working order to keep you safely in control. Start by verifying that the grips are in strong shape. If they’re loose or coming off, re-glue them so you will consistently have a firm hold on any situation. Inspect and adjust your brake, clutch and throttle levers and cables to confirm that they’re all doing their job.
Without a doubt, wheels and tires take the brunt of the abuse out on the trail. Before you head out, tighten all the lugs and survey whether the wheels and tires are in good condition. Be wary of dents on the rims that could cause a leak, or any cracking or bubbles in your tires, which might cause them to fail mid-ride. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when you’re out riding.
Lastly, test your tire pressure. Generally, ATV’s run about six to seven pounds all around, depending on the type of feel you prefer. If it’s below normal, adjust the pressure according to the tires specs and how you like it to ride.
The Nuts and Bolts of It All
When checking up on your ATV, you may not think about scrutinizing the nuts and bolts that hold fundamental components together. Over time, these can loosen, bend, break or even fall out as you ride. Investigate your ATV and the hardware that holds things like your axles, suspension, shocks and control arms together and certify everything is in place and in good shape.
Take a Brake
Brakes are one of the most vital parts of your ATV when you’re on the trails. Before you head out, take each wheel off, inspect the pads and remove any debris that might be stuck in the brakes. Also check your brake fluid, and top it off if it’s low.
A quick inspection of some key items on your ATV can be the difference between a smooth and fun day of riding or a long, lonely walk home. If you take the time to monitor your equipment and ensure everything is in working order, you’ll be more likely to avoid issues and stay safe.
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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.