Whether you ride your all-terrain vehicle through the snowy Canadian winter or you're more prone to retire it for the season in favour of a snowmobile, every rider should give their vehicle a little post-summer TLC before the thermostat takes a nosedive.
If you want to let your vehicle hibernate, it's not as simple as just throwing it in the garage until spring. This is important if you want to keep it running optimally when the weather warms up—and have it do so well beyond its expected lifespan.
Here are five things to remember as you prepare your ATV for the winter.
Clear the Fuel Out
Excess fuel in your ATV can clog the system and cause springtime performance issues if condensation from moisture in your garage causes the ethanol component of the vehicle's gas to separate (a process known as phase separation). One way to prevent this is to either run your machine out of gas before storing it or add the appropriate amount of fuel stabilizer—which can keep fuel fresh for at least two years of storage time.
If you go the latter route, run the engine for five to ten minutes after applying the stabilizer, allowing it to permeate the whole fuel system. Afterward, fill it with fresh fuel, which will help reduce air in the tank and prevent condensation from forming.
Remove the Battery
The effects of cold weather on exposed batteries can be devastating.
It's wise to completely disconnect your ATV's battery before storing it for the season. While you can give it a full charge and put it away somewhere cool and dry, a better option is using a trickle charger (a charger you can leave connected to a battery for an extended period). This will charge it gradually, preventing its natural discharge. That way, next riding season, you won't need to worry about purchasing a new, expensive battery.
Clean the ATV Itself
Before putting your ATV away for the winter, thoroughly clean it (something you should already be doing after every trip). Caked-on debris like dust, grime, frozen muck, or even ice can cause damage to the chassis or paint job.
Also, consider lubing your ATV parts to keep them in good working order and protect them from rust and corrosion. Pay special attention to the throttle, brake and clutch cables, chains, cv joints, cylinders, driveshaft, suspension, and u-joints.
Change Air Filters
If your ATV has a dirty air filter from sitting unused all winter, it may have issues starting when the weather warms up. Therefore, you should clean or replace the filter before storing the vehicle away for the season. It's also a good idea to discourage critters from crawling in and out of openings, airbox, ventilation, exhaust pipes and tubes by sealing them off.
Store Your ATV Away
While not necessary, you can consider removing the tires or lifting the ATV off the ground for the season (though this may not be feasible for everyone). Why? Because tires lose traction if they are allowed to sit in one place for too long. It's also an opportunity to look for any punctures that may have occurred throughout the summer but went unreported (like nails or screws, etc.).
Lastly, it would be best to put the ATV away somewhere dry and out of the way, under a well-ventilated cover. While they can be stored outside under a cover, it doesn't provide nearly as much security as a garage or shed.