Some of us ride our ATVs all year round, but many of us – especially those residing in the northern regions -- do not. Ice can damage the engine, road salt corrodes the undercarriage, and extreme conditions can wreak havoc on your finely tuned machine. If you are a rider that stores your ATV during the cold winter months, taking the time to properly maintain and prepare for storage can help avoid costly shop repairs and extend the life of your machine. Below are a few steps you can take to make sure your ATV is in peak shape for next riding season.
Thoroughly wash your ATV. Good ATV maintenance involves washing your machine after every use, however before storage be sure to give it an extra-thorough cleaning. Scrub every inch and use an old toothbrush to reach those tight areas. Mud and oil can eat away at exposed surfaces over time. Once it is dry, give it a good hand wax for added protection.
Change the oil and oil filter. Old oil contains acid from the combustion process, which over time, can attack internal components and cause corrosion. Changing the oil and filter before storage will also keep excess dirt from settling in your engine.
Grease suspension and drive components. An often-ignored item is the greasing of the pivot points in the suspension and steering systems. No manufacturer uses enough grease in the pivots to keep them trouble free for very long. A-arm bushings, swing arm pivots, and shock bushing/bearings all need to be lubricated to keep them working and prevent corrosion.
Disconnect and pull out the battery. Top off the electrolytes clean the terminals and charge it if necessary. Store the battery in a location where it cannot freeze. It's important to keep the battery stored out of the reach of children. Battery acid is dangerously corrosive. Store your ATV's battery on a high shelf or locked in a cabinet. Do not store it directly on concrete. Concrete causes power drain in batteries. Instead place the battery on top of a couple of 2x4 to keep it off the cement.
Clean and prep the air filter and wipe out the air filter box. Add some fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank and top off with fresh fuel. This reduces the surface area inside the fuel tank that can form condensation. For best results, use premium gasoline and run the engine a few minutes to allow the stabilizer to work its way through the fuel system. Shut off the engine, and turn off the gas valve. On carbureted ATVs, turn off the petcock and restart the engine and run until it dies. This will remove the fuel from the carburetor float bowl.
Lubricate all levers and cables to prevent corrosion and keep them moving smoothly.
Check your ATV for loose hardware, lug nuts, steering linkage, suspension and motor mounts. Adjust and tighten as needed.
Remove the spark plugs and put a drop of motor oil into the spark plug hole and reinstall the spark plug to the manufacturers specification.
Pressurize the tires to the proper psi to keep them from weather cracking.
Cap the exhaust to keep critters out. This is also a great time to repack your exhaust so it's ready to go when riding season starts back up in the spring.
Do not store ATV's outside in winter climates. Push the ATV into a shed or garage and place the ATV up on blocks. Expensive jack stands aren't necessary; cinder blocks or heavy plastic milk crates work just fine
Place a tarp over the ATV to keep excess dust and vermin away. If desired, leave an open can of auto wax on the floor under the tarp. The smell repels mice, chipmunks and other small pests.
Now that your ATV is prepared for storage, remove tarp from your snow machine and get ready to ride. The snow is about to fly!