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Maintenance

  • Summer Safety for Your ATV

    The most important thing to remember with ATV and UTV's is that they are not cars. If anything, they are more like motorcycles and should be treated as such in terms of safe practices while riding. It can be dangerous in a number of ways, and smart riders will be prepared for the potential hazards uniquely posed by ATV riding.

    Gear

    Always, always, always wear gear. Most UTV and ATV's do not have seatbelts, and we need to make up for this lack (and the usually open top construction) by wearing padding - including:

    • helmet
    • goggles
    • boots
    • gloves

    Inspection

    Even if you rode your ATV yesterday, do at least a top 5 check. Check:

    • tires and rims for wear or damage
    • intact connections and cables
    • links in chains
    • sprockets in gears
    • lubricant levels

    Damage or wear can happen at any point - we push our machines hard and sometimes they push back quicker than we may anticipate.

    Bring a Buddy

    No matter how seasoned the rider or how familiar you are with the trails, if you plan on being out on the trails, bring someone out with you. Everyone runs out of gas or gets turned around the odd once in a while. Reduce the chances of getting stranded, and make a day of riding with some buddies.

    That being said, each person should have their own machine or should have a machine designed to carry more than one person. Follow the safety protocols outlined up-front by the manufacturer when they determine vehicle capacity.

    Be Smart

    This covers a lot of ground, and for an ATV rider that generally means one of two things:

    • don't try and pull stupid tricks on your machine to impress your friends (and end up rolling your ATV)
    • be aware of what's going on around you: potential vehicle traffic, what's ahead on the trail, where your riding buddies are - so that you don't get caught unawares.

    Keeping these safety tips in mind will keep you out and riding your ATV safely this summer!

    Photo by Joe Neric

  • Maintenance for Your ATV

    Regular maintenance before taking an ATV out is massively important - it's like the walkaround and checks with small planes, or even doctors. You probably know what you're going to find and what's going to happen, but you can never be 100% sure until you actually do the checks and have the maintenance complete. Plus, if you fail to maintain your vehicle, it won't last nearly as long as it would if you did.

    A Good Clean

    Give your machine a good, thorough clean. It's been in storage, and even with covers, probably pulled in a bit of dirt and dust. Plus, cleaning it will help you re-familiarise yourself with all the bumps and grinds your machine went through last season you may have forgotten about...and may affect your season this year.

    And with any ride, you want to clean your rig afterwards to get out any rocks and such. In winter, be especially mindful of compacted snow freezing up and potentially breaking your brake caliper or break lines.

    Tires

    Your tires are your lifeline to the road. Make sure they have the correct pressure, and like any other tires, haven't worn down so low they have little to no traction. This is especially important in winter months. And if revving up for a winter season, remember that because of the temperature, the amount of pressure in your tires will drop. Make sure you monitor this closely and take it into account when doing your pre-season checks. If you're in winter season and will be going through a lot of snow and ice, also consider getting ice screws and popping them into your tread.

    Oil

    Of course, do a fresh oil change in the fall, or whenever you may be kicking off your season. And before you change the oil, make sure your filter is clean! Always follow the manufacturer’s specifications for viscosity and type.The colder the average winter temperature is where you live the more you should consider switching to a light synthetic oil.

    While oil does have the most impact on performance, espeically in colder months, you'll want to do a quick check on the levels of all your diff and transmission fluids to make sure they're all where they should be - and clean, so your machine is starting off in the best way for the season.

    Battery

    This is especially important if you're using your machine over the winter - an iffy battery is very quickly killed by cooler temperatures. If you're concerned about your battery in the winter, consider picking up a trickle charger for overnight so you get a smooth start in the morning.

    If you're particularly concerned (and potentially isolated), take out the battery and bring it inside your nice (presumably warm) accomodation with you. Remember as well new machines may have 'phantom' battery draws from any electronics - clocks, electric gauges, etc.

    Fuel

    Use the right fuel for your machine - and make sure it's the right quality! You may need to filter your own fuel if you're finding the quality of the ride isn't what you want, or what the machine requires.

    If you get your fuel from a gas station, pretty much any time you pick it up, there will be water. This can be managed in one of 2 ways - use a fuel filter funnel while you're fueling to remove any stray H2O, or make a habit of using a fuel stabilizer to mitigate the effects of the moisture.

    Other Checks

    • suspension
    • grease fittings / zerks
    • bearings
    • plugs, arrestors
    •  air filter
    • brake discs
    • suspension

    Overall, it's a relatively short list when it comes to making sure both you and your machine are safe for the coming season.

    Photo by Ahmet Yalçınkaya

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