From the May/June 2012 issue of ATV Rider Magazine.
The sun is coming up, and all through the woods the trails are calling your name. The garage door opens, and within a few minutes you’ll be riding for the first time since winter set in. But hold on just a second; is your sport or utility ATV ready for this year’s ride? Let’s take a quick look at what might need to be checked before you haul the mail out to the local ride area. It could be the difference between a great day and one you’ll want to forget!
Starting with the fuel, if the beast has been stored more than a month, the fuel in the tank is most definitely no good. Drain it all out into an approved container and dispose of it properly. If you’d neglected to add a fuel stabilizer, then you may actually need more than a drain. The garbage that is in today’s fuel will cause problems in the carburetor and the entire carb may need attention.
2. Chain Or Drive Belt: Getting the power of your beast from the engine through the transmission and out to the ground requires either a chain or belt drive depending on your ride. The chain on a sport quad needs constant attention and should be adjusted before a hard ride season. The drive belt or CVT belt needs attention as well for premature wear or signs of a future problem.
3. Oil: The oil in your ATV is the lifeblood for the motor. This fluid is the most important fluid to check before all others. If it’s low, add some, and if it’s milky or any color besides what you know oil is supposed to look like, then change it immediately or suffer the consequences!
4. Coolant: Keeping a cool head is crucial in the hot spring and summer days, so be sure to top off this fluid. And be sure to look for any signs of foul play in case the engine is throwing up into the coolant passages.
5. Start: Disconnect the battery and clean all the acid buildup off the connections. Mix baking soda and water and scrub with an old toothbrush. Then return the battery, tighten and lube the terminals. Follow by connecting to an appropriate charger and allow enough time for a complete charge. All batteries discharge over time, so if your ATV struggles to start, you may need a new battery.
6. Bearings: I know it seems we may get too technical sometimes, but just imagine if you didn’t take the time to jack your quad up and simply spin the wheels to listen for rough or grinding in the wheel bearings. Now wouldn’t you feel bad if you made it to the trail and couldn’t ride away from the truck because of a bad bearing and you “didn’t have time” to just check it?
7. Swingarm Bolt:
This little monster has bitten more than its share of riders, and if you overlook the fact that it can come loose, you will regret it. It only takes a few minutes to inspect and tighten the swingarm bolt nut. Safety wire on this nut will also add extra insurance.
8. CV Boots: If you ride a utility quad, you’ll want to check the CV axle boots on both the inside and outside as these can get torn as well as dry rot after many years of neglect. Show them some love people!
9. Air Filter: Chances are you didn’t do the ATVR Magazine required winter prep before storing your ATV, so the air filter is probably dirty. Be sure to clean and reoil as well as making sure the filter isn’t falling apart. This may be a great time to clean out the airbox also.
10. Grease Everything: There are little grease fittings—or as they say in the highly educated portion of our world, grease zerks—located all over your sport and utility quads. It only takes a few seconds to fill up those little suckers, and it sure does make the ride much smoother.
The idea of keeping your prize ATV in great shape has escaped all of us at one time or another, but to ignore it this ride season is something that may wait for now but bite you like a shark later. I’m sure there may be a few more things to check, adjust or replace before you get out on the trail, but we know you’ll do those things, too. So if you have completed these tasks, you may now be ready to go out and ride the wheels off your trusty steed, but be sure everything is in order because we don’t want to hear you whining when it breaks if you didn’t! - ATVR