A Guide to Storing ATVs in the Off-Season
If you stored your ATV/UTV/SxS over the winter months and found a host of maintenance issues you suddenly needed to address, this blog is for you.
ATVs, UTVs, and Side-by-Sides (SxS) need protection from the elements during the cold winter months, especially if not in use for extended periods.
You need to protect your vehicle from damage caused by freezing temperatures and critters, along with moisture damage, like rust and corrosion.
So if you plan to store your ride for an extended period of time, or even between uses in the colder months, follow these ATV storage and maintenance tips.
Read More: YEAR-ROUND ATV MAINTENANCE FOR EVERY RIDER
Why Is Proper Atv/Utv Storage Important?
Proper storage keeps machines in top condition, minimizing damage that can be costly to repair while also saving you time during season-start maintenance. Instead of being stuck with repairs at the start of the season, your ride can be ready to use when you are ready to ride.
Common Start-Of-Season Maintenance Issues (And How to Address Them)
Here are some of the most common issues quad owners have when taking out their vehicle at the start of the season.
Engine Won’t Start
If you didn’t keep the battery charged over the winter, then your engine likely won’t start. So be sure to charge your battery using a battery tender, especially during long periods in storage.
Worn Components and Parts
Consider replacing worn-out components and parts to ensure your ride runs smoothly and safely. Bring your vehicle in for a professional tune-up and parts replacement so you can hit the trails without worry.
Tires deflate slowly over time. So if you didn’t inflate them before storing your ride last season, or you didn’t check the tires throughout the off-season, they will likely become flat.
Inflate your tires using a pump and use a patch kit if you find any leaks.
Use Scotch-Brite pads to scour rust off your ride’s metal components, such as the exhaust pipe. If the pipe is steel, you can use a cleaner on the scouring pad, such as Lime-A-Way. Once you’re done, wipe off with a rag, rinse with water, pat dry, and coat with WD-40.
How to Properly Store Your Ride
When it comes time to store your ATV, follow these steps to ensure your ride is ready for use once the off-season has ended.
Step 1 – Check Your Battery
A vehicle’s battery will die if left unused, especially in cold weather. And when left in these conditions for too long, the overall lifespan of the battery will decrease.
So, keep your battery charged throughout the winter by hooking it up to a battery tender. A battery tender doesn’t use much energy, but it will keep your battery charged and ready for use in the spring.
Step 2 – Clean and Wash Your Ride
As you should wash your vehicle when it gets dirty, you should also clean it well before storing it for the winter. Any caked-on mud and dirt will trap moisture against the surface of your vehicle, which will eventually cause corrosion.
So protect your ride from rust and corrosion by giving it a thorough cleaning before storing it for the off-season. Cover any intakes and areas that shouldn’t get wet. Then hose down your ride, soap it up, and scrub away any caked-on mud.
Once it’s clean, rinse it off, pat it dry, lubricate, and add a protectant to the plastic. As mentioned before, be sure to use WD-40 on your exhaust pipe as well as on any raw and polished metal surfaces.
Step 3 – Change Oil and Filter/Clean Filter
Used oil has dirt and debris that will eventually congeal to the pan and engine parts. So before storing your ride for the winter, be sure to change the oil.
Also, clean or replace the air filter, and let the engine idle for a few minutes so the clean oil can coat the moving parts. And once a month, let the engine turn over once or twice without starting it to help keep the parts lubricated throughout the winter.
Step 4 – Drain Unused Fuel or Add Fuel Stabilizer
Gas breaks down and goes bad if left sitting for too long. Old gas will eventually clog fuel lines and cause a fuel system failure. So if your vehicle has a plastic fuel tank, drain it along with the fuel lines and carburetor.
For carbureted vehicles, simply cut off the fuel and burn off what’s in the tank. This helps prevent varnish in the carburetor, which can cause start-up issues.
If your vehicle has a metal fuel tank, you will want to fill it up and add fuel stabilizer that has a corrosion inhibitor. Otherwise, an empty metal fuel tank will risk rusting from humidity during the winter. Once you add the stabilizer, run the engine so the stabilized fuel travels throughout the system.
Step 5 – Covering Your Vehicle
To protect your vehicle from the harsh winter weather, the best place to store it is in a heated garage or ATV storage shed with a secure gate and door that locks. Storing your vehicle in a heated enclosure will protect it from damage to both its exterior and interior.
Prolonged exposure to moisture will rust the exterior and frame, while the sub-zero temperatures will freeze the gas lines and cause ice to build up inside.
If you don’t have room in your garage or an ATV storage shed, then store your vehicle on a flat, paved surface outside that is sheltered from the wind and direct sunlight—such as a corridor between two closely neighbouring structures or homes. And if possible, store it in an area with partial coverage above, such as a metal roof, and a locking gate.
When storing your vehicle outdoors, be sure to use a high-quality ATV winter cover. Look for ATV winter covers that are made from a durable, synthetic fabric, such as nylon or polyester. A quality winter cover will help keep sunlight off the plastic and prevent weather damage.
Step 6 – Jack Up Your Vehicle or Rotate the Wheels
Keeping your vehicle off the ground in storage can help prevent wear of the tires and suspension. UTV storage accessories include blocks and lifts to keep the vehicle off the ground.
Elevated racks and ATV storage lifts for your garage, shed, or barn can also help you store your vehicle indoors for the winter without taking up too much space. These are especially useful for storing multiple vehicles indoors.
But if you don’t have a jack, blocks, or lifts, simply rotate the wheels once a month.
Step 7 – Wildlife Proofing
Some mice, insects, and wildlife may be able to get at your vehicle, so make sure it’s always protected while in storage. Cover the exhaust pipe with a muffler plug, or stuff a rag into the opening, and tape over any entrance points, such as intakes.
If possible, remove the air filter for the winter and replace it with an airbox cover. Rodents and other critters like using ATV filters as nests throughout the winter, so prevent this from happening or be sure to check the air filter before you start your machine.
If you are aware of a rodent problem on your property, consider keeping traps around your vehicle as well. Rodents can chew the wires of your quad, causing expensive damages.
Keep Riding in The “Off” Season – Try Track Kits
If you don’t want to store your ride for the winter, you can keep using it in the snow with track kits. Track kits allow you to travel over deep snow, and you can even make the most of your ride in the winter and add a plow for snow removal.
Read More: HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR UTV FOR WINTER
With the right care and storage procedures, you can keep your ride in top condition for many years and outdoor adventures to come.