How to Prep Your ATV for Spring Riding

If your vehicle was sitting all winter long, make sure you tune it up. 

How to Prep Your ATV for Spring Riding

In many parts of the United States, winter is a long season of waiting until you can ride your ATV once again. When spring comes, however, it's not as simple as starting up your vehicle and hitting the trails. If your ATV has been sitting for a while, a tune-up is in order. From oil changes to refilling tires, here are a few tips for prepping your ATV for spring riding.   

Examine Your ATV

When you uncover your ATV—or roll it out of the corner in your garage—give it a thorough inspection. Check to see if the tires look worn or underinflated. Look under the fenders and in the engine to see if any critters decided to nest there over the winter. Check for gnawed or worn wiring and tubes. 

Examine the spot where it rested all winter and look for evidence of leaking fluid. Check all the places where a leak may come from, like seals, plugs, hoses, reservoirs, and brake components. If you find a leak, be sure to get it taken care of before you start riding for the season.

Change the Oil and Check the Fluids

If you changed the oil before you parked your ATV, you may be okay. However, if the vehicle was in storage for several months or the winter was particularly cold, you should probably go ahead and change your oil and filter, again. Also, be sure to check your air filter. If you didn’t change it before winter, it’s a good idea to do so before you start a new season of riding.

While you’re working on your ATV, you should also take the opportunity to check all of its fluid levels and top off any that are low. Pay particularly close attention to brake fluid and coolant levels. If it has been a long winter, or if you haven’t done so in a couple years, you may want to consider draining out all of the old fluids and replacing them with fresh stuff.

The same is true with fuel. Over the winter, condensation may have built up in your fuel take and/or lines. Drain your fuel system thoroughly before filling up your tank for the season.

Check and Fill Your Tires

Make sure your tires aren’t worn or cracked. If they look okay, fill them to the recommended inflation levels for the type of riding you intend to do. This is also a good time to take a look at your brake components to make sure they are in good working order, aren’t worn or too rusted.

Check the Battery

Look for signs of corrosion or leaking battery fluid. Check your battery’s age and make sure that it’s still within its useful life. If not, it’s probably time for a replacement. If so, make sure it’s ready for another season of riding. Over the winter, it’s a good idea to leave your battery on a trickle charger to ensure that it doesn’t completely discharge. If you did this, check to make sure the battery is fully charged, and charge it up if necessary. 

If your battery was not on a charger over the winter, charge it fully and make sure it will hold a charge the way it’s supposed to. If it discharges easily or won’t take a charge at all, it’s time for a new battery. When replacing the battery on your ATV, check your owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website to ensure that you purchase the correct replacement battery for your vehicle. 

Check the Engine

Before heading for the trail this spring, inspect all belts and cables for frays, wear or signs of stretching. If your ATV is fitted with a chain, look for any slack in the chain and, if necessary, adjust it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Check your spark plugs and adjust or replace them if it’s needed.