DIY Spring ATV Maintenance Tips

As the weather warms and you prepare to take to the trails or the track, remember that your ATV will need some love to perform it’s best.

2015 Yamaha Raptor 700 Spring Maintenance

Your ATV needs love all year round, but what you do now to prepare and maintain your ATV will affect it’s performance throughout the entire riding season. Spring is an excellent time to perform a full inspection of your machine to make sure it is in top riding condition and reduce the risk of running into an issue down the road. To help you get the most out of your machine, we’ve put together a list of ATV maintenance tips to help you fully inspect your machine after getting it out of storage.

Inspect Fuel System

  • Inspect Gas Tank & Fill Up
    • Gas goes bad. Overtime gasoline breaks down and can clog up carburetors or fuel lines. Hopefully, you prepped your machine’s gas tank prior to storage by adding a fuel additive or by draining it completely. Either way, be sure to look at your tank before you decide to ride. Check the tank for any floaters or rust particles. If you find some, drain the tank and thoroughly inspect it. If necessary clean it and refill it with fresh gas.
  • Inspect Carburetor
    • If your machine has a carburetor it will need to cleaned out from time to time and especially after sitting a while because it can cause build up in the float bowl. Go through and blow out the vent hoses and jets and spray the float bowl with carburetor cleaner. Before re-installing, check the intake boot for any dirt or debris and clean it out.

Check/Change Fluids & Filters

Spring is an excellent time to refresh the fluids in your machine and inspect some of those essential ATV parts affecting the performance of your machine. To get started, drain the existing fluids and inspect it for anything out of the ordinary. Below are a few things you should look for and consider. If you don’t notice anything, replace the fluids and continue on with the rest of your maintenance.

  • Check/Change Oil
    • The oil is the lifeblood of your machine. Checking and changing your oil regularly is critical to ensuring peak-performance throughout the riding season. Your oil collects dirt, debris, and little metal shavings as you run your machine and your engine wears. It’s good to have your oil changed before storage, but hey, we’re not all perfect. Give your ATV an oil change after storage and give your machine a fresh start to the riding season.
  • Check/Change Brake Fluid
    • Overtime brake fluid absorbs air and moisture and can get dirty. You should flush and replace your brake fluid if you notice issues with the color or consistency. Low brake fluid is a sign that your rotors may need replacing. 
  • Check/Change Coolant
    • Check the coolant for any signs of dirt and overheating. Coolant that has ran hot for long periods of time will change in color and start to produce a burnt odor. If you notice a milky consistency it is likely that your cooling system has been mixing with your oil system. If this is the case, you may be facing a not-so-fun repair bill. While you’re here check out the radiator and hoses too. A clogged radiator is a big problem so be sure to thoroughly inspect it.
  • Check/Change Transmission Fluid
    • If there is any project you want to avoid, it’s rebuilding the transmission. Regularly checking and replacing the transmission fluid will help to prevent this costly repair. When you inspect the transmission fluid it should be clear and look fresh. If it’s cloudy or dark in color it’s time to replace it. Low transmission fluid will cause wear and stress on your gears or clutch.
  • Replace/Clean Air Filter
    • Your machine’s air filter should be checked and maintained regularly throughout the riding season. Neglecting your air filter will ruin your machine as it will suck dirt particles into the engine and wear it out overtime. Prepping your machine after storage is an excellent time to check and clean or replace your air filter. After any day of riding, if you’re dirty, your air filter is likely to be dirty. Clean it up!

Inspect Tires

Check the tire treads and pressure before hitting the trail. Inspect the tires for any signs of wear or weakness. ATV tires operate at a much lower pressure level than your vehicle’s tires. A tire that loses pressure is a lot more likely to have the bead come off the rim. This causes a lot of wasted time out on the trail or worse, a serious accident. Protect your machine and your life. Check your tires!

Prep Battery

Maintaining your ATV’s battery should be addressed before and during the time your machine is in storage. To keep your battery going strong, here are few maintenance tips.

  • Remove the battery and clean the positive and negative posts with a mixture of water and baking soda to remove any corrosion.
  • Apply waterproof grease or Vaseline to the posts after reconnecting to prevent corrosion.
  • Does your battery require topping off? Wear safety gloves and goggles when servicing your battery and only use mineral free or distilled water to top it off.

Inspect Brakes

Spring is an excellent time to inspect your brakes. Do you have disc brakes? Take a look at your brake pads. If you cannot see the indicator marks, it’s time to replace the pads. If you also notice one brake pad having more wear than the others, it is likely your machine needs an alignment.

While you’re inspecting the brakes, be sure to check out the rotors. This would also be a good time to give them a nice scrub as this is a common site where dirt and debris build up. Heck, while you’re at it take a good look at your calipers and wheel bearings too. Check caliper seals and replace them when needed. Bad caliper seals will cause brake dragging or cause brake pressure loss. If you notice brake fluid build up in this area you’re already too late. Lubricating the caliper pins is also a good idea.

Check Front & Rear Differentials, and Suspension

Remember all those gnarly jumps you landed (or didn’t land) last year? How about those darn trees? Did you run into any of those? Now’s the time to check your machine’s toe-in. Start by parking your ATV on a level surface. Check the distance between the center of your right front tire to the center of the front left tire using a tape measure. Then check that measurement at the rear of your machine. Do those numbers compare? Check your ATV’s shop manual to find out what the correct measurements should be, and if you’ve installed an aftermarket front end you will need to check that company’s manual. Check out your suspension. Look for any loose or worn parts - grease if necessary.

Check/Replace Belts, Cables, Chains and Spark Plugs

  • Belts
    • Belts become stretched and worn over time so inspecting your ATV’s belts every now and then is a must. If you’ve noticed your machine not shifting as smoothly as it should, there’s a good chance the CV belt needs replacing.
  • Cables
    • Inspect your ATV’s cables for any frays or weakness. If you notice any issues replace the cables as soon as possible.
  • Chains
    • Do you have a chain-drive ATV? Check the chain for slack and adjust it according to your owner’s manual. Now’s a good time to do a little spring cleaning and scrub your chain and sprockets. A good old fashioned wire brush usually does the trick. While you’re at it inspect the sprocket’s teeth and make sure everything’s intact. Be sure replace any broken or worn sprockets. Once you’ve finished cleaning the chain, lube it up and see if the clutch is adjusted properly.
  • Spark Plug
    • If you want your ATV to perform it’s best, you have to maintain your spark plug. Your ATV’s fuel-air ratio is affected by the spark that ignites it. Check your plug for any corrosion or wear on its electrodes. If you see any you will definitely want to replace it. Your spark plug is also an indicator of your machine running too rich or lean, which may mean your fuel-air ratio isn't calibrated correctly. If you’ve got more than a full riding season under your belt, you might also want to replace it.

Grease Pivots and Bearings

Getting your ATV out of storage is a great time to get your machine loosened up. Greasing the bearing and pivots is a must. Here is a quick list to help you get your grease on.

    1. A-arm bushings and bearings
    2. Axle or carrier bearings
    3. Front hub bearings
    4. Pivot Bolt
    5. Steering stem bushing

Inspect Aftermarket Accessories

  • Maintain/Repack Aftermarket Exhaust
    • Aftermarket exhausts tend to be internally different from stock exhausts. Most, like Barker’s Exhaust Systems, will require repacking to keep your machine performing it’s best. After a full season of riding you might notice your exhaust getting louder and the can may appear to be getting hot. You may also notice bits being expelled from the rear of the exhaust. These are tell-tell signs that your packing, and potentially your inner core baffle, need to be replaced. Replacing the core packing materials inside will keep your machine sounding and performing as it should.
    • How To Repack Your Barker’s Exhaust
      • Repacking your Barker’s Exhaust System is a fairly simple task that should be done at least once a year. If you notice your exhaust is louder than usual or the color of your can is discolored, there’s a good chance the packing is too far gone.
      • To repack your system, remove the rivets securing the end cap to the exhaust can.
      • The inner core baffle should pull away and you can remove the old packing.
      • Wrap the new packing around the internal core baffle and secure with the included tape.
      • Slide the interior core back inside your exhaust can and secure the end cap.
    • Check/Replace Spark Arrestor and Quiet Core
      • If you have a spark arrestor or quiet core these will need to be checked for wear and tear and replaced every now and then as well.
      • If you ride in sound sensitive areas or areas regulating emissions, you will need to stay on top of checking and replacing these when needed.
      • You can purchase a Barker’s Replacement Spark Arrestor or Barker’s Quiet Core for your exhaust on our accessories page.

Check/Tighten Nuts and Bolts

You might be surprised but little things like the nuts and bolts on your machine can cause bigger problems than you may think. Here is a list of nuts and bolts you should be checking after storage and regularly throughout the riding season.

    1. Axle Nut - loose axles can wear out bearings and could end up wrecking the axle carrier
    2. Lug Nuts - lug nuts need to be properly torqued at all times, otherwise you could lose a wheel (and possibly a limb of your own) in an accident.
    3. Pivot Bolts - the pivot bolts hold your machine’s swing arm to its frame. Neglecting the pivot bolts could wear out you machine’s frame and bearings.
    4. Sprocket Bolts - continuous chain torque from riding your machine will loosen this bolt. Check for tightness regularly.
    5. Skid Plate Bolts - wear on your skid plate will loosen these bolts so check these bolts to ensure your plate stays in place.
    6. Wheel Hubs - loose hubs will wear out your ATV’s bearings and could eventually strip axle and hub splines.

Alright! You did it! Your ATV is prepped and ready for your best riding season yet. Make sure your registration is up to date and LET HER RIP!