Understanding the Basics of ATV Maintenance

An ATV or UTV is an essential vehicle for any outdoors man. It’s a significant investment for anyone. To get the most out of that investment, you want it to remain clean and functional for many years to come, especially when you use it outdoors frequently. Maintaining your ATV is a necessity if you want it to last for a long time. Here are some of the basics of ATV maintenance for anyone looking to buy one or already have one of their own.

Break it in

The first thing you’re told when you get your ATV is to probably break it in. Like with other stuff, ATVs have their own breaking in the process needed to ensure that the vehicle runs smoothly. Your dealer will probably recommend one to you when you buy your ATV, but if they don’t, then don’t fret. Breaking in a brand new ATV is as simple as not going all out with it just yet.

Give the vehicle some time to adjust to the terrain it’ll be driving on from now on by going at it slowly. Don’t try to climb any rough terrain or overexert its engine. Let the engine warm up for at least 20 minutes before you take a ride on it to ensure that it runs properly and smoothly.

Then, check for any damaged nuts, bolts, and other parts before slowly hitting the throttle. Start slow, about 50%, before gradually increasing the speed till it’s nearly at its’ limit. Once you’ve determined that the vehicle runs smoothly and that nothing’s wrong with the engine, you can give it a test run at a normal speed. Think of the breaking-in period as one big test run, so you know you’re getting the most out of your money.

Check and change the oil

After you’ve broken in your vehicle, it’s time to check your oil. Most ATVs will come with a manual telling you what kind of oil and how much to put into their engine. Because an ATV’s engine is smaller than a car’s, it might need more constant oil changes. But not to worry.

Changing the oil of an ATV is relatively easier than changing the oil of a car and shouldn’t come as much of an expense since it only ever needs a couple of quarts at a time. Changing the oil also cleans the engine of any unwanted dirt, gunk, and other residues that it might have picked up off the road. Liking changing a car’s oil once in a while, changing your ATV’s oil helps it run as smoothly as when you first got it.

Clean the air filter

Just as we all need air to live, your engine needs a constant flow of good clean air to run as well. Your vehicle’s air filter helps to regulate a continuous flow of air to your engine, so obviously, keeping it clean and unblocked is necessary to keep your engine happy. On muddy or dirty terrain, your air filter can get easily blocked with hardened mud or dirt or build up a lot of dust over time if left unused for a while. Be sure to clean your air filter as regularly as you do your oil to keep it from clogging up those airways.

Clean the exterior


This should be pretty obvious, but you should regularly wash your ATV at least once a month or once a week, depending on how often you use it. It can be once every few days if it sees a lot of work or depending on the weather and the terrain you run it through. Getting your ATV dirty is a given. Is it an ATV if it isn’t caked in mud and dirt, after all? Just be sure to clean it whenever it gets too much.

The accumulation of mud and dirt on the wheels, underside, and other exterior parts can cause it to underperform or potentially break down in the long run. Utility vehicles that are regularly used to transport cargo on farms and mountainous terrain, like the reliable Can-Am Defender, might need a lot more cleaning than others. At the very least, don’t let it go without a good cleaning for too long, or you might regret it.

Check your vehicle’s belt

An ATV or UTV runs on a CV belt that keeps the wheels and the engine running. Over time, depending on the average speed you run it, your vehicle’s belt will naturally wear out and might even snap in the most extreme cases. You’ll notice the change immediately when you run your car, as the shift will feel rough and clunky, and the vehicle won’t perform as well anymore. Be sure to regularly check for any wear and tear on your vehicle’s belt and replace it if you need to.

Check your boots, nuts, and bolts

Every part of an ATV, no matter how small, needs to be checked and maintained to ensure a smooth and steady ride. One loose bolt and nut could make the difference in accidents on the road, which can happen any time if you’re not careful. Always take the time to check that the boots, nuts, and bolts are all in place and working correctly. Ensure to clean them when they get too dirty or the build-up starts to affect your ATV’s performance. Remember that one loose screw could make all the difference.

Check the tire pressure

One of the most critical parts of any vehicle is the tires. Tires are all the more critical for ATVs, given the rough terrain they’re mainly used for. Make sure to maintain your tire pressure regularly. After all, you don’t want it to run low just as you’re about to enter some rugged terrain. Use a tire pressure gauge when checking the tire pressure, and you should be able to keep it all running smoothly.

Regular maintenance goes a long way

If there’s one takeaway you have to remember from this list, it’s that a bit of maintenance can make all the difference to your vehicle’s performance. Don’t neglect your ATV’s cleanliness or maintenance. That’s about the worst thing you can do as an ATV owner. Maintaining your vehicle will not only keep it looking good, but it’ll make it last for years more to come. Make the most out of your ATV experience and treat it to the maintenance it deserves.

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