5 Surefire Ways to Ruin Your ATV

All-Terrain Vehicles, as their name suggests, are designed to be ridden on just about any type of land, and to take a beating while doing so!

ATV rider

ATV ownership isn't a walk in the park. All-Terrain Vehicles need your attention and regular maintenance to continue working properly. Rather than sharing what to do to prolong your 4-track's lifespan, we thought it best to use this entry to tell you what NOT TO DO to your prized machine. If you truly cherish owning an ATV, here's a list of what you shouldn't do. 

1. Forget to Change Your Oil

Before you left the dealership, chances are the salesperson or mechanic said something like: "Don't forget to change the oil."  You should take his or her advice, since this is one of the fundamental responsibilities of ATV ownership. Not changing your ATV's oil is an express route to a laundry list of problems. The regular oil change is one of the simplest ATV maintenance tasks you can do yourself. 

Engine oil lubricates internal components and parts, and removes debris from them. Since your ATV was designed to regularly encounter dirt, sand and mud, it's good practice to replace the oil at least once every season. If you're not sure how often to change the oil on your ATV, check the owner's manual or always remember this rule of thumb: when in doubt, change it out. Watch the video below to see how to change the oil on a Polaris Sportsman 850.

2. Forget to Clean or Replace the Air Filter

Your ATV takes in air as you ride, and more often than not, that air is polluted with dirt and debris. This rings especially true when riding your machine on trails and sand dunes. Similar to an oil change, the air filter service can make or break an engine over time. While it's easy to overlook a simple maintenance task such as an air filter cleaning or replacement, doing so will damage your machine in the long run. 

Engines depend on air filters for good airflow, which contributes to peak performance and longevity. In other words, your ATV's engine needs to breathe to survive. If you fail to regularly clean or replace the air filter, the buildup of debris eventually forces all of the junk overwhelming the filter into the engine. When that happens, expect some costly repairs to follow.

Unless you enjoy paying mechanics, it's a good idea to clean the air filter regularly and replace it if necessary. If you fancy riding in the sand, check the air filter before and after every trip. The consequences of not cleaning or changing your ATV's air filter far outweigh what little effort and cost these simple maintenance tasks require, so get it done. If you need guidance on how to clean and oil an ATV air filter, watch the video below to see how it's done.

3. Leave Fuel in the Tank While in Storage

ATV ownership requires basic responsibilities that you must commit to in order to have a well-performing machine. Besides the basic oil and air filter maintenance requirements, also think about the fuel. Yes, there is such a thing as bad fuel. If you want to find out what that's all about, simply allow the fuel to sit in your ATV's engine for weeks on end during a period of inactivity. Because even if you only ride once a month and your engine is practically new, the fuel in the tank will stagnate if stored too long.  

atv in storage

Unless your goal is to damage your ATV by doing nothing, there are a couple of things you should do after a ride or before storing your quad. Start by draining the fuel after a long period of riding or before a lengthy period of inactivity. This prevents stagnant fuel from building up gunk in your engine. Another thing you can do to protect your ATV's engine is to add a basic fuel stabilizer to the tank during the offseason. This magical liquid keeps the fuel from separating, and from blocking up your carburetor. 

4. Submerge Your ATV in Water

All-Terrain Vehicle doesn't mean you can ride it anywhere, especially not in water. Terrain is land by definition, and h2O doesn't fit that definition. Water is a common culprit for oil contamination, and helps to increase the amount of dirt and grime that can build up in your machine's engine. Unless we're talking about cleaning your ATV, water is not your machine's friend. If you have a "wee!" moment and decide to make a big splash, or accidentally plunge your 4-track into water, chances are the liquid made its way into the air filter, fuel tank, exhaust and engine. 

ATV submerged in water

The first thing you can do to prevent serious water damage if it takes a plunge is to get your machine to dry land immediately and turn off the engine. Don't try to start your machine back up if it got submerged, but instead drain as much water from the ATV as you can. Get your ATV back to the garage immediately to drain any water out of the fuel tank and carburetor. 

5. Forget to Grease Your Zerk or Pivot Points

The most notorious way to ruin your ATV is to not grease the zerks regularly. An ATV's moving parts rely on grease to work properly. Zerk or pivot points are connections to various moving parts, and we guarantee that not caring for them will result in some costly service repairs over time. 

It's good practice to grease your pivot points after riding hard in the great outdoors. Otherwise, expect replacement parts and long hours in the shop in your ATV's future. 

It's easy to overlook important ATV maintenance, and even easier to damage your ATV than it is to properly care for it. If you plan on enjoying your machine for years to come, take care of business and prevent these "don'ts" from happening!

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