With Canada’s winter season seeming to drag on later and later every year, you might be asking yourself, “Can I ride my ATV in the winter?”
The good news is, that you don’t need to keep your beloved off-road vehicle locked up in the garage during the coldest months of the year. There are, however, a few things you’ll need to do to get your ATV ready before you set off on the trails. Read on to find out how to prepare for riding an ATV during winter and what your options are if you need some professional support.
Preparing Your ATV
In Canada, winter’s always coming thanks to our short and sweet summers. This means, more likely than not, you’re going to have to check a few things off your list before you can venture out with your ATV. Here’s an overview of some essential ATV maintenance and winter weather safety checks to perform.
Tires and Tire Chains
While tire chains and studded tires are an option, most ATVs will be perfectly fine without them. Instead, you should pay close attention to how hard your tires are before you set off and consider letting a little air out of them.
Having tires that are slightly under-inflated can help in a couple of ways. Firstly, you increase the tire’s surface area as it contacts the ground, which gives you better traction in the snow. Secondly, you increase the flat spot on the bottom of the tire which allows you to stay on top of the snow easier.
Batteries can be tricky in cold weather and sometimes, the easiest thing to do for the best ATV care is to take your battery out altogether and keep it inside where it’s warm. A drop in temperature can ruin your battery quickly and these can be costly to replace.
Alternatively, you can choose to keep your battery on a trickle charger or smart charger to avoid having to take it out every time you aren’t using your ATV.
Fuel And Oil
The main thing to keep in mind for your fuel is to not get moisture in the fuel lines or tank. As temperatures drop, water can condensate in the tank which can prevent the engine from starting.
To avoid this happening, you can add a fuel stabilizer to your gas which will help your gas stay fresh and keep your engine running smoothly. You can also try to keep your gas tank topped off as much as possible. This will create less space for water condensation to form on the inside of the tank.
Before you head out on your ATV for your first winter ride, clean out your air filter. Your filter will likely be filled with dust and debris after months of warm weather riding and it’s a step we often neglect during summer. As it collects with dust, it will eventually form a paste-like substance in the filter and prevent your engine from getting proper airflow.
A quick blow out of the filter should do the trick but if it’s been a while since the last filter change, now could be the perfect time to change it out completely.
ATV maintenance doesn’t require you to tend to your spark plugs every winter but if you’re planning on changing them out anyway, the best time to do it is right before winter. This should give you an extra edge when starting your ATV in cold weather.
Check the antifreeze before you start the engine. If it’s frozen, you’ve got some work to do before you can go anywhere. Frozen antifreeze can cause an engine to overheat or ruin parts of it entirely so you’ll want to thaw and replace it before starting your engine.
Heated hand grips are definitely a luxury item and not 100% necessary for winter riding. You can always get by with a decent pair of gloves and shorter rides to make sure you’re not too uncomfortable.
If you’re willing to part with some cash and looking for the ultimate in comfort, heated grips will keep you riding for hours without having to deal with frozen fingers. Most are easy to install and will just slip on and off as you need them but you can always consult our Service Centre for advice on the right set to get for your ATV.
Even the most experienced driver or the most rugged model can still get into trouble when riding during winter. Mud, snow, and swampy terrain are all challenging for your wheels to maneuver through and can be too much for your wheels to handle. To be safe, equip your ATV with track kits which distribute your vehicle’s weight over a greater surface area.
How We Can Help
Muskoka Powersports has a large selection of ATV products to keep you on the trail this winter. You can check out our shop to see all the track kits, ATV parts, and accessories on offer.
If your ATV needs a little bit of love, you can book an appointment with our Service Centre. It could be something as simple as an oil change, a regular service check, or some more difficult troubleshooting, our team is here to provide you with convenient, competitive, and worry-free service. Muskoka Powersports can help your off-road vehicle perform better at all times of the year with genuine parts, certified technicians, and premium support long after you’ve left the centre.
So, Can I Ride My ATV In The Winter?
The short answer is, yes. ATVs are built to be tough and with a few additional steps before you head off, you can be sure that you’re in for a safe ride.
Now that we’ve answered your most burning questions about cold weather ATV maintenance including, “Can I Ride My ATV In The Winter?” you might be interested in what you should wear once the temperatures start to drop. Check out our complete guide on Cold Weather Essentials to learn all about how to bundle up in winter.