It’s been hotter than Arkansas asphalt lately, which has got me thinking of winter, which – in turn – has me thinking about winterizing my ATV.
While it may not be the season, it pays to plan ahead when it comes to preparing your ATV for winter storage. Although we here in Hotsprings like to hit the trail all year long (check out our article on modifying your ATV a better fit for a race or the cold weather), we know the many fellow ATVers up north don’t have the luxury.
Do without further ado, here’s our winter maintenance regimen that you can do to get your ATV ready to take the trail even during the cold season.
One of the many mishaps that can happen because of the cold weather is the failure of the ATV to start. A common cause of this problem is the moisture in the fuel tank, which can also be brought about by low-quality fuel. Those fuels have water in them and because of the cold, it condenses and builds up eventually in the tank. To avoid this, you should use a fuel stabilizer.
Use the fuel stabilizer once you’ve filled your tank with fresh fuel before it gets cold. After adding the fuel stabilizer, start the engine and run it for about 10 minutes to allow the stabilizer to go through the fuel lines. Additionally, if you plan to store your ATV for the winter you have to make sure that the tank is filled up to 85-90% full of fuel.
Another component of your ATV that can be greatly affected by the cold is the oil. To make sure that it runs smoothly throughout the colder months, make sure that you have the oil changed during fall. Follow the oil type and viscosity suggested for your ATV and some experts also suggest considering light synthetic oil if you use it in areas that experience extreme winter seasons.
The cold temperature can also affect your batteries and cause it to die. They are very susceptible to that especially if you leave the batteries out all night long. The best thing to do is to remove the battery and take it inside to charge it at night. You can also use a trickle charger permanently connected to the battery and charge it overnight through an outlet. While you’re at it, also make sure that all the battery connections are tight and clean to ensure proper electrical flow.
It is not really required to change your spark plugs if you are planning for a winter ride but if you’re ATV is due for new ones, it is best to change them before winter. That way, you’ll have an extra edge when starting your ATV in the cold. When changing your spark plugs, make sure that they are properly gapped and new.
Aside from the fuel and oil, there are other fluids involved in an ATV. These should also be checked and maintained. Before winter, make sure that you have replaced fluids such as lubricants and coolants. There are coolants specially formulated for use in lower temperatures and these can help make sure your ATV runs smoothly.
Some might think that the coolant isn’t that important because of the cold temperature. However, that is wrong because the ATV still produces heat while running, and overheating it can cause problems even if you’re running it through cold weather. Additionally, coolants should always be replaced especially if you’ve used it for two years, no matter what weather it was used on.
For the lubricant, there are also some that are formulated for cold weather use and those should be selected. Lubricants are used for choke cables, brake cables, lube points, and other control cables.
The tires you have on your ATV can be used during the cold weather too and there is nothing that you should do. However, you may choose to get tire chains or studded tires if you want to improve traction when riding in frozen lake trails. However, if your trail doesn’t involve any of that, you may not need any of that drastic changes in your tire. You could, however, let a little bit of air out to improve traction over the snowy trail.
Heated hand grips feel very comfortable but they aren’t essential but if you have some extra you can get some to make it more comfortable for your hands to ride in the cold for hours. There are different kits available and some are very easy to install.
Aside from the heated grips, hand guards are also a great addition to your ATV in winter times. Even while wearing gloves, the wind can still be brutal and the cold can still be felt when driving your vehicle. These can help protect your hands from that direct wind. Additionally, they can also protect the hands from branches or rocks that can accidentally hit the hand while you’re driving the ATV.