Riding your ATV or UTV in the winter means that you must continue to maintain it against the frozen elements. You also have to use lubricants and fluids that are meant for the cold weather. Even if you’ve kept your UTV or ATV maintained throughout the winter, you will need to bring it in for maintenance at the end of the winter season since the cold and wet conditions play havoc with controls.
Cold Weather Maintenance Checks
Maintaining your ATV or UTV during the winter is imperative to keep it running throughout the cold season. The fluids, including the antifreeze, should be changed to handle the cold weather. Just as your car needs a different viscosity oil for cold weather, your ATV or UTV does too. Keeping the fluids and lubricants changed for the season ensures your machine will start easier and run smoother.
Also, pay attention to the gas level. Keep the tank more than half full while you are not riding the ATV or UTV to help prevent condensation from building up in the tank. If you are storing your vehicle for the winter or you’re not riding it nearly as often, be sure to add stabilizer to the gas tank. This prevents the gas from breaking down into a sticky residue that could clog fuel lines and wreak havoc with carburetors and fuel injection systems.
Lubricate the control cables with a lubricant that is designed for cold weather. This will ensure that the cables will operate when you need them and keep the cables from rusting. This includes brake, choke, and accelerator cables, along with other cables on the vehicle. At the same time, check the brakes to ensure they are working properly before you head out on the trails. The worst thing that could happen is not being able to stop when you need to.
Check the frame for cracks and other abnormalities. It wouldn’t do for a crack in the frame to expand and break, leaving you stranded miles from home or your trailer. As you go over the frame, check other items under the vehicle, including skid plates, gas lines, brake lines, and the exhaust. Look for leaks in the lines or weak spots that are not yet leaking, but could leak when you go over that next bump.
Grease any electrical connections with white lithium grease. This helps keep the connections protected from water and ensures a quality connection. Even the battery terminals should be treated with white lithium grease to help corrosion from building up on the terminals and the cables.
Check the tire pressure. Colder temperatures mean that tire pressure could drop. However, as the tires warm up, the pressure should come back up. If the pressure dropped more than one or two pounds, you should add air. Also, check the tires for dry rot and cracks if you haven’t ridden the UTV or ATV in the past few months.
If you’ve been riding throughout the winter, just check the battery and the cables. But if the vehicle has been sitting for a few months, pull the battery out and charge it up. If you expect another month or two of cold, make sure you store the battery where it won’t freeze—unless you’re riding frequently. Even if you are riding frequently, if temperatures are consistently below freezing, you should keep the battery where it won’t freeze and reinstall it each time you ride.
Clean the ATV or UTV
Each time you ride the vehicle, be sure to clean off the build-up of ice, snow and mud on the wheels, radiator, suspension and other components. This will let it dry faster and help slow down rust. If you rode on streets that have been treated, you should definitely rinse your vehicle. The ice-melt chemicals destroy paint and encourage rust.
Even if you ride frequently during the cold months, you should store your UTV or ATV inside a barn, shed, or in a trailer to keep it out of the weather. This helps prevent rust damage and keeps some of the colder temps from wind chill off the vehicle. If you can’t store your vehicle inside, get a waterproof cover for it—just make sure it’s waterproof and not water-resistant.
Contact Tousley Motorsports to schedule maintenance for your ATV or UTV or to pick up any accessories and parts you may need.