Did you know that the pandemic fueled a surge in ATV purchases in Canada? It makes sense when you consider the ability to get out of your home and maintain social distancings.
However, when you invest in ATV bike riding, whether you’re a new or experienced rider, it’s crucial to take 4-wheeler maintenance like ATV jumping techniques, how to clean your ATV engine, and ATV alignment into consideration. Maintenance when quad riding can keep you safe and increase the lifespan of your ATV or UTV.
Alignments are critical to getting a 4-wheeler working correctly and operating perfectly. Keep reading, and we will look at 4-wheeler alignment and how to get an alignment done correctly.
When Should You Check Your Alignment?
Regularly checking your 4-wheeler alignment is an important maintenance step to keep your ATV and UTV working efficiently and prevent any future problems.
It ensures that the wheels point in the correct direction and that the tyres are wearing evenly. Uneven wear on the tyres can eventually cause issues with control and become dangerous.
Are ATVs dangerous? Any vehicle has inherent risk; however, by completing regular maintenance and taking other safety precautions, you can reduce that risk.
If you’re wondering what the difference is in aligning a UTV vs ATV, rest assured that both require the same process.
You should do an alignment when:
- You notice a shaking or wobbling feeling in the handlebars on the trail
- Your ATV pulls to the side while riding
- Tires are wearing unevenly
- After the first 30 days of owning your ATV
- Every three months
- When you swap out your tie rods
- When doing other work on your ATV that involves those parts
First Things First
Before you begin aligning your ATV or UTV, there are a few basic steps you need to take. These steps will help set you up to do the actual work of aligning your ATV.
- Level the ATV/UTV
- Secure the handlebars
- Adjust the camber
- Measure your toe-in
Level the ATV/UTV
Before starting the alignment process, you need to level the ATV or UTV to ensure your front and rear wheels are even on the ground. Your garage or driveway should work; you want to ensure that any unevenness you see comes from a misalignment, not the surface you’re parked on.
Next, you want to ensure that your tires are aired to the level that you would typically ride your ATV or UTV at.
Secure Handle Bars
To make sure the ATV or UTV does not move around while you are aligning the vehicle, you need to make sure the handlebars are secure in place. This can be done by wrapping a tie around the handlebars and using some zip ties to secure them. You can also use a ratchet strap.
Loop them around each handlebar, and then attach them to the back. However, don’t tighten them too much, or you could accidentally damage your ATV.
Adjust the Camber
The next thing you will want to do is adjust is the camber; this is the angle of your tires from the centre of the rim to where the tire is resting. Check your service manual and use a level to measure where your camber needs to be adjusted to.
You should measure with the level vertically against your tires. To adjust the camber, you need to adjust the bolts called camber bolts.
These bolts always come in a set of two, and they are located on the upper A-arms of the ATV/UTV. If you have an adjustment bolt, this means that you can turn the bolt to change the angle of the camber; if you have a bolt that you can’t move, then you need to place a spacer between the bolt head and the locknut and then use a wrench to rotate it.
However, this will take time to do, so you should use a combination wrench. Using a combination wrench allows you to loosen the locknut with a ratchet and loosen the bolt with a wrench. Then, you’ll be able to rotate the bolt and adjust the camber.
Measure Your Toe-In
When adjusting the alignment of your ATV, you’ll want to check your toe-in. This is the angle at which the tyres are pointing inwards or outwards, and you want them straight. There will be a way to measure the toe-in of your ATV in your service manual.
The most common way is to place a level on the ground (horizontally) and then place one of your wheels against the level. Then, you simply need to adjust your bearings to make the distance between the tyre and level to be the same as the distance between the tyre and the cockpit.
If you can’t access the bearings, use a combination wrench to adjust the toe-in as close as possible. Most quads require a 1/4 inch toe-in alignment.
Now that you have all of the basics down, it’s time to actually start the alignment process. Aligning your ATV will follow a few simple steps.
- Loosen tie rods
- Adjust tie rods
- Tighten tie rods
- Balance tires
Loosen Tie Rods
The first thing you want to do is loosen your tie rods slowly, about half of a turn or so. The reason for doing this is that you want the wheel to be able to rotate freely without the tie rod wrench clamping down on it.
There is one tie rod for each wheel, and it is located at the steering arm. You need to have the wrench at a slightly negative angle when loosening your tie rod. This will help you to avoid the tie rod clamping down on the wheel.
The amount that you need to loosen the tie rod depends on the amount that you have to push the alignment bar on the inside of your tires. How much you push on the bar depends on the camber, the toe, and the caster.
You will most likely need to push the alignment bar in about a half-inch.
Adjust Tie Rods
Once you’ve loosened the tie rod, you can adjust it by spinning it clockwise or counterclockwise. When your toe in measurement is correct, you know you’ve adjusted it to the right place.
Tighten Tie Rods
You need to tighten the tie rod when you’ve adjusted the toe-in. Be sure to do this at a negative angle to prevent clamping down on the wheel.
You should balance your tires by first checking the tire pressure. If the tire pressure is too high, you will get too much camber, which is essentially the opposite of toe-in.
If the tire pressure is too low, you will get too much toe-in. The recommended pressure is between 15 and 22 PSI for most quads.
4-Wheeler Maintenance: The Takeaway
It is vital to keep your ATV in good shape and balanced. Make sure you’re performing regular alignments and 4-wheeler maintenance.
If you’re looking for an ATV for rent or a dirtbike for sale, we’ve got the solution for you. Start your adventure with Muskoka Powersports today and keep visiting our blog for ATV tips and tricks.