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man sitting on his Honda ATV holding an axe with chopped wood in the background and on the machine

Honda ATV Maintenance Tips to Keep Your ATV Safe and Running Smoothly for Many Years & Trails to Come

To prolong the lifespan and performance of your ATV, you need to maintain it year-round. Whether you’re a seasonal rider or just starting out, you won’t be doing much trail riding, rock crawling, or labour around your property if your machine isn’t well looked after.

It doesn’t take much to keep it up to standards! Here’s what you need to do to properly maintain your ATV.

Why Regular Maintenance Is Important

With the right care and maintenance, your ATV will last for years without the need for costly repairs. Along with saving you money, regular maintenance will also save you time and keep you safe off-road, on rough terrain, and while racing.

A four seasons ATV can also be used for hard labour, like snow removal and transport. So keep your ATV in good condition, and it will keep up with you, no matter how you use it, for years to come.

Year-Round Maintenance Tips

Follow your ATV owner’s manual, an ATV maintenance checklist, and the following tips to keep your ATV in top shape year-round.

Respect the Break-In Period

Before you hit the rough terrain and test the limits of your ATV, you need to follow the recommended break-in procedures first. These break-in procedures include giving your ATV time to get used to running, operating, and letting the oil and fluids flow and work.

To break in an ATV, start with less stress and throttle, and gradually increase both over time. These steps help warm up the machine and preserve the engine.

Schedule Regular Checkups

You should treat your ATV like you would your car or truck. So schedule regular ATV tune-ups with an ATV technician who will:

  • Check the tires;
  • Check and change the oil;
  • Check the spark plugs;
  • Check the brake fluid;
  • Inspect the brake pads; and,
  • Inspect the brake shoes.

Check/Change the Oil

Checking and changing the oil on ATVs is easy. But more importantly, it’s necessary since the oil in your engine catches dirt after hitting the trail. So check the oil once a week and every time you fill the gas tank.

Follow the owner’s manual for the recommended oil type and weight since the small engines of ATVs are sensitive to different oil weights. The manual will also have a recommended change schedule.

Tighten the Bolts

Before hitting the trails, check the bolts and nuts and tighten them if they are loose. This step will take only five minutes of your time and will save you from potential accidents that could hurt you and your ATV.

Also, inspect the protective rubber boots surrounding important parts like the drive shafts and air intakes that are expensive to repair.

Clean Your Machine Regularly

While your ATV is bound to get muddy, be sure to wash off that dirt regularly. Caked-on mud and dirt will trap moisture and eventually cause the steel to rust. The mud and dirt will also affect the performance of your engine by getting into your air filter and clogging other parts of your machine, like your vents.

Before hosing down your ATV, cover the intakes and other parts that won’t react well to getting wet.

Treat the Gas

When gas gets old, it can break down and cause the fuel system to fail. As it breaks down, gas can clog fuel lines, vents, and ports in your fuel injectors. So to prevent this damage, use a stabilizer product to treat your gas before storing your ATV for the winter or a prolonged period.

Also, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for octane readings and keep your gas in good shape by keeping water and junk out of the fuel system.

Check Handlebar Grips

Since the handlebar grips will affect how well you can control your ATV, make sure they are secure. Check the grips before each ride and secure with glue if needed.

Keep the Air Filter Clean

Your engine needs clean air to function well. To ensure your engine is getting the air it needs, keep your air filter clean and dry. Check your air filters and intakes often, especially after dirty and dusty rides. Also, check the filter when taking your ATV out of storage and after periods of not riding since critters like to use filters for nests.

Check the Belt

Over time, your ATV’s belt can wear down and become stretched, especially when you ride your ATV hard over extreme terrain and frequent water crossings. If you notice performance issues and your machine isn’t shifting gears smoothly, your belt is probably to blame.

The smell of burning rubber is also a telltale sign that your belt is damaged. So keep an eye on your belt, take care of your machine, and don’t ride too wildly to ensure your belt stays in good condition for longer.

Maintain the Tire Pressure

If a tire on your ATV loses pressure, the bead could pop off the rim, costing you plenty of time to get it back on. Low tire pressure can also cause serious damage or an accident.

So use a low-pressure tire gauge to check the tire pressure before you go for a ride. And if you feel one of your tires losing pressure while on a ride, pull over and take care of it immediately with a portable tire pump and a tire patch kit (if needed).

Check the Coolant Levels

Ample levels of clean coolant will keep your ATV in good condition. So check the coolant levels before hitting the trail. Also, check the coolant for signs of dirt and overheating—i.e., a burnt smell and change in colour. And check the radiator and hoses as well.

If your coolant system starts mixing with your oil system, the coolant will turn milky, so keep an eye out for this problem, too.

Stay In Low-Gear on Mud Runs

When driving through mud, switch into a low gear so you don’t get stuck.

Last Tip: Be Careful

Don’t treat your machine like it’s invincible or like it can go anywhere. Be careful when riding to prevent costly damage to your ATV and to prevent serious injury.

Always be smart and wear protective gear when riding. And don’t ride above your skill level. If you don’t know whether you can make it up a hill, then chances are you can’t, and you shouldn’t attempt it. Otherwise, you might end up rolling over, wrecking your ATV and your bones.

ATVs are also designed to ride in designated water areas and levels only. So don’t submerge your ATV in water—water will ruin the engine and cause it to stop running.

Your ATV is your trusted companion that will plow your snow, haul your loads, and take you on memorable journeys in the wilderness. So be sure to give it the care it deserves and perform regular ATV maintenance.

A bit of work will save you plenty of time, money, and headaches in the long run by keeping your ATV in safe, reliable, and working condition for many years and trails to come.