While it’s easy to see an ATV as a big toy, it’s a very sophisticated piece of machinery. It requires the same basic care and maintenance as any type of motor vehicle to keep it running in good condition. Taking steps to care for the exterior and keep the engine running well will help you extend the life of this recreational vehicle.
Follow the Recommended Break-In Procedures
The first thing you should do upon buying a new ATV is to read the owner’s manual. In addition to providing information on the basics of the machine, the manual will provide you with a guide for breaking the ATV in at home. Ignoring the manufacturer’s recommendations will lead to problems almost instantly. You can avoid needing repairs by taking the operation of a new ATV slowly to allow the fluids to spread to the various parts of the engine. If you use to rebuild and upgrade kits for ATVs to enhance the performance of a vehicle you already own, you should still go through this same process. Taking it slower after making any changes to the engine will help you avoid serious problems that might otherwise destroy your ATV.
Change the Oil
Just as you need to change the oil in your car, the same process is necessary for keeping an ATV running efficiently. Since an ATV travels over more rugged terrain and is exposed to more environmental hazards, it’s even more important to change the oil in your ATV. The owner’s manual will instruct you on the proper type of oil to use and provide a guide in changing the oil. The engine is much smaller than a car’s engine, so the ATV engine is more sensitive to variations in soil types. As a general rule, you should check the oil once a week or every time you fill the gas tank. As soon as you notice that the oil appears darker or contaminated with gunk, you should take the time to do an oil change. Be sure to use the correct weight when buying oil for your ATV.
Washing is Important
It’s common for ATV owners to leave mud and dirt caked onto the exterior of an ATV as a badge of honor. While it might look cool, leaving mud caked onto the surface of an ATV’s body will do serious damage to the underlying material. Before long, you’ll find that the body is rusting or eroding. This is because there are corrosive chemicals in the soil and on the roads that can adversely affect the steel or fiberglass body of an ATV. You should take the time to wash your ATV with mild soap and warm water. If you want to add your sense of style, pick up some decals to stick to the body. They will do far less damage than mud, clay, and dirt.
Check the Belt
An ATV operates on a continuously variable or CV transmission that acts as a type of automatic transmission. Instead of a clutch, the engine is controlled by a belt that regulates the shifting between gears based on speed and other variables. The problem is that the belt becomes easily worn due to the friction that’s generated by this process. You should keep an eye on the belt and replace it whenever it shows signs of stress. If you use your ATV more frequently or for long hours, you should expect to replace the belt more often.
Mind the Fluid Levels
There are several minor maintenance steps you can take to ensure your ATV stays in the best possible condition. This includes replacing the air filter regularly, checking to make sure the nuts and bolts are tight, and keeping the vehicle properly fueled. You can improve the quality of the gas you put into your ATV by adding a fuel stabilizer. This will ensure your vents, fuel lines, and cables don’t become clogged. You should also check the coolant levels before and after each use. If you frequently have to replace coolant or notice a burning odor, you should have a technician check out your ATV’s radiator, hoses, and thermostat.
You should also find a reputable service center with experience in handling ATVs. Knowing where to take your ATV when it exhibits mechanical problems will also help you extend its life. You’ll help the unit last longer by getting problems fixed earlier, and by following a mechanic’s suggestions for its upkeep.