ATV Riding Season Preparation Checklist

Oct. 03, 2013 By Seth Fargher
Photo Courtesy of HondaIf youíre like most people, as last riding season drew to a close, you probably prolonged winterizing your ATV in hopes of squeezing in one last trip before the weather made it too uncomfortable to ride. More than likely that trip never came and your machine has been sitting there, just as you left it, for at least a few months. 

For some, the heat is just now subsiding enough to make riding bearable; for others, itís still too early for snow. If you have been waiting for ideal temps to go riding, now itís time to dust off your machine and get it ready for the season. No matter where you plan to ride, there are a few things youíll want to pay close attention to before hitting the track, trail or dunes. 

Probably the first and most important thing to check is the fuel. If you planned accordingly you might have drained the carburetor and fuel tank, or at the very least you added a fuel treatment like Sta-bil to the tank before parking it. Because of the poor quality of gasoline nowadays, it tends to break down very quickly. If you failed to drain the tank and carburetor, chances are it has left the carburetor a little gummed up.

If thatís your situation, at minimum youíll want to drain the tank and carburetor of old fuel. Most carburetors have a float bowl drain plug that you can get at with a box end wrench. If after filling it with fresh gas and firing it up, it doesnít run right, youíll probably need to disassemble the carburetor and give it a thorough cleaning.  

Air Filter
A good clean air filter can make a world of difference when it comes to the performance of your ATV. Even if you cleaned your air filter before you put our ATV into storage, inspect the element to make sure it has plenty of oil and hasnít dried out. If it still has debris on it from last season, take the time to clean and re oil it so youíre starting the season with a good, clean air filter. Also check the air box for dirt and debris. If you store your ATV in a barn or a shop, itís not out of the ordinary to find some sort of critter that has made a nest in there during the cold winter months.

Tires can lose air pressure for a number of reasons, and it doesnít always mean you have a puncture. Many times there is a slow leak around the bead, or if you use a beadlock ring chances are good that air will escape from the ring over time. Make sure the tires are inflated to the proper specs as outlined in the ATVís user manual and inspect the tires for weather checking. Over time, tires can dry out and begin to crack which is a great way to justify new tires for the coming riding season.

Engine Oil
Running an engine without oil is like trying to cross the desert on foot without water.  Sooner or later your body is just going to give out. For that reason, always check the oil to make sure itís at the proper level. If you donít remember the last time you changed it, itís probably time to do so and your engine will thank you. Just make sure to read the ownerís manual about how to change the oil. Some machines, like my Honda TRX450R, have separate chambers for the transmission oil and the engine oil. A friend of mine who owns the same ATV rode for years without ever changing the transmission oil simply because he didnít know there was a separate chamber for it.

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