Some things are a given: keeping your quad’s motor in good working order requires regular maintenance. A few simple and inexpensive steps can keep your machine running well and help avoid expensive repairs later. Take these 5 preventative measures for ATV maintenance to protect your investment.
1. Change the Oil
Oil collects a lot of gunk and junk. Everything from the little metal shavings from normal engine wear to dirt and debris can contaminate an engine’s oil. When you splash through those creeks, water can get into the oil, too, and all these “extras” that make oil dirty or unstable can lead to a sudden engine breakdown. At least once a season change your oil, and do it more frequently if you ride a lot and are racking up the miles. If you ride during the coldest months, change the oil to an appropriate weight for colder temperatures. Clean oil is an easy way to maintain engine performance.
2. Clean the Air Filter
Running an engine with a filthy air filter is just asking for trouble. Your quad engine needs fuel and air to produce power, but a dirty filter can’t prevent dirt from being sucked into the engine. Over time, this can do serious damage starting with a loss of horsepower and eventually ruining the motor. Frequent off-roaders know to clean the air filter after a really dirty ride, and if you ride the dunes it becomes especially important. Understand this rule of thumb: if your face is dirty after a ride, so is the air filter! Check it frequently.
3. Grease is Good
Grease is good and grinding is bad, so make sure that you grease the pivots and bearings on your machine. This is a simple job that takes just a few minutes but can make a big difference. Check the pivot bolt, carrier bearings on the axle, steering stem bushing, A-arm bearings, and front hub bearings.
4. Tighten the Bolts
Grab a torque wrench or socket and check all of the bolts on your machine. You should be tightening them on a regular basis if you want to prevent your four-wheeler from suddenly becoming a three-wheeler, or a skid plate from dropping off! A loose pivot bolt can ruin the bearings, and an axle nut coming loose could destroy the axle carrier. Wheel hubs should be tight too, and check the sprocket bolt since constant chain torque can work it loose.
5. Unclog the Radiator
All kinds of terrain can be tough on a radiator…mudding, riding in the woods, and plowing through sand dunes can clog it quickly. A clogged radiator means that your machine will overheat, or at least work at a diminished capacity. The simple solution to prevent problems is to pressure wash it. If water splashes back at you, the radiator’s not clean enough yet. The water should flow through easily when it’s clean, and a clean radiator will keep your engine cool and operating well.