Basic UTV & ATV Maintenance Advice to Keep Your Machine Running Well For Longer
ATVs and UTVs are called upon to tackle tough terrain and conditions on a regular basis. They’re designed for fun and functionality in these conditions, but that doesn’t mean riding through mud, puddles, rocks, and even snow won’t take a toll.
To keep your machine running well in all conditions, here are simple maintenance and performance tips to extend the life of your machine.
HOW DO YOU KEEP A FOUR-WHEELER RUNNING WELL?
Routine maintenance may sound like a chore. You probably want to spend more time on the trails and less time working on your four-wheeler. But like any vehicle (and investment), you have to put in some work to keep it in top condition.
With regular maintenance, your four-wheeler will be dependable for years. Regular maintenance helps keep you safe when out on the trails. And it will save you plenty of time and money.
The last thing you want is to have your UTV or ATV break down while in the middle of nowhere. And with regular upkeep, you can avoid forking out money for UTV and ATV repair.
So follow your service schedule, schedule regular checkups with an ATV/UTV technician, and use these tips to get the most out of your UTV/ATV for many years to come.
BREAK IN YOUR ATV/UTV
Brand new vehicles need time to get into the groove of operating. So before you take it for a wild spin off-road, follow the recommended break-in procedures (or New Operator Driving Procedures) found in your Owner’s Manual.
It typically takes 20 hours of operation, or the use of two full tanks of fuel, to break in a vehicle. And while some models might vary with their break-in procedures, here are general guidelines for breaking in your ATV/UTV:
- Fill the fuel tank;
- Check the oil, and add the recommended amount of oil when needed to keep the oil level in the safe operating range;
- Check the fluid levels, controls, and other areas according to the manual’s daily pre-ride inspection checklist;
- Change the oil and filter after 25 hours of use or one month;
- Check the fluid levels of the transmission and gear cases after the first 25 hours of use and then after 100 hours of use from then on out;
- Drive the vehicle at slower speeds during the break-in period—for at least the first 80 kilometres (50 miles) of use;
- Drive in low gear for the first 8 kilometres (5 miles) of use;
- Avoid prolonged low speed at high throttle;
- Avoid prolonged operation at a specific RPM;
- Do not operate your ATV/UTV at high speeds or full throttle for at least the first 3 hours of use;
- Avoid aggressive acceleration and high-speed operation during the break-in period;
- Vary throttle positions and do not operate at sustained idle;
- Avoid aggressive use of the brakes, and only apply moderate force for braking during the first 50 stops;
- Only pull light loads during the break-in period.
KEEP AN EYE ON OIL LEVELS
The best thing you can do for your engine is to check the oil levels before each ride. It’s a fast and easy task that will keep your engine running in top condition for longer.
Use the recommended oil weight and type found in your Owner’s Manual. And keep a few extra quarts of oil on hand.
Also, follow the recommended oil change schedule. Since the oil in your ATV/UTV’s engine catches dirt and gunk, you’ll want to check and change the oil regularly to keep your engine running smoothly.
CHECK ON COMPONENTS AND PARTS
Over time, your belts will become stretched and worn out, especially if you frequently ride your ATV or UTV hard, on water crossings, and on extreme terrain. When this happens, your vehicle won’t perform well. So inspect your belt often and look for signs of abrasion and wear, such as cracks, breaks, glazing, flat spots, and missing cogs.
You need clean air flowing into your engine for it to work well. So check your air intakes and filters regularly, especially after a dirty ride or when it’s been sitting idle for a while.
Clean and oil your serviceable filters regularly. And if you don’t have serviceable filters that you can clean, replace your filters when needed.
Boots, Nuts, and Bolts
Before going on a ride, inspect every nut and bolt on your machine, making sure they’re not loose. And also check the protective rubber boots surrounding those expensive-to-repair parts, such as the air intake and drive shafts.
KEEP THE TIRES PUMPED UP
Losing pressure in your tires can lead to a series of hazards and problems while riding. So before you hit the trails, use a low-pressure tire gauge to check the tire pressure. And keep a portable tire pump and patch kit with you in case your tires lose air pressure while you’re out on a ride.
ARE YOU USING THE RIGHT FUEL TYPE?
For peak performance, consider using high-quality, high-octane fuel. High-quality fuel will keep your engine working well and for longer.
Do You Need Stabilizer?
If you plan to store your ATV or UTV for a while, you should use a stabilizer product. Otherwise, the old gas will break down and clog fuel lines and injectors, resulting in fuel system failure and the need for costly repairs.
DON’T FORGET TO KEEP IT CLEAN!
Another crucial part of ATV and UTV maintenance that you should not ignore is keeping your ride clean. Caked on mud and dirt will wreak havoc on your vehicle, trapping moisture against the metal that will eventually lead to corrosion (rusting).
Mud and dirt can also clog up parts of your machine, like the vents and air filter. So do yourself and your ride a favour and clean it regularly, especially after each use if it gets dirty. Just be sure to cover the intakes and other parts of your machine that shouldn’t get soaked before hosing it down.
RIDE RESPONSIBLY, ALWAYS
Take care of your vehicle and yourself when riding. Wear protective gear, such as a helmet and protective clothing. Pack an emergency kit if you plan to go out in the middle of nowhere. Ride with a fellow four-wheelers whenever possible. And don’t attempt to do anything risky, especially when you’re riding alone. In other words, don’t ride like a maniac. The costly repairs aren’t worth it. Neither is a trip to the emergency room.
So learn how to ride your UTV or ATV safely and properly, and follow the routine maintenance necessary for keeping your ride in top condition. With the right care and maintenance, your vehicle can give you a lifetime of use and memorable rides.