Tips for Maintaining Your ATV's Transmission

Doing simple maintenance on your ATV's transmission, such as changing the fluids, keeps it from grinding and wearing out.

ATV transmission maintenance tips

A well-maintained ATV transmission can outlast the engine itself, provided you know how to detect the problem signs and do your due diligence on the maintenance. Here are some maintenance tips for keeping the transmission healthy on your ATV.

Know What to Look For 

There are a few things to look and listen for that are indications of problems with your ATV's transmission. These include:

  • Hearing a grinding sound 
  • Your machine failing to get in gear
  • Jerky acceleration when you hit the throttle

Jerky acceleration might be your machine's chain skipping teeth, but it could also be an indication of serious problems with the transmission. 

ATV transmission maintenance fluid change

Your ATV's transmission fluid can also provide clues that it's time for some maintenance. Most transmission fluids are similar in appearance to engine oil: clear when it's fresh, and cloudy or dark when it's flat.

Change Transmission Fluid

Your ATV's make/model may require more than one type of transmission fluid change. For example, some Polaris models like the Sportsman 850 require different fluids for the front differential, the rear differential and the transmission, while other makes and models only require one transmission fluid change. 

Polaris ATV transmission fluids

The same goes for the frequency of the fluid changes. For example, some Polaris ATV models require changing the fluids every 50-75 hours, while some Honda ATV maintenance schedules call for fluid changes after every 100 hours, 600 miles or once a year. 

ATV transmission maintenance fluid change

Depending on how much wear is going on inside your transmission, you may see flecks of metal in the fluid. Many ATVs also have magnets on the drain bolts that can collect these metal flecks. Some flecking is expected, and changing your fluids flushes that debris out of the system. 

ATV transmission fluid maintenance

Inspect Before You Ride

Check where you park your machine. If you consistently see fluid in the same spot, you may have a leak in your transmission that could require a new gasket or other repairs. Make it a habit to check your ATV's fluid levels as well. Insufficient transmission fluid/lubrication puts added stress on interior components, which leads to the breaking down of parts. If your machine loses enough transmission fluid, you might even detect the smell of what's left of it burning when you open the cap.

Keeping Your ATV Transmission Healthy

The service manual for your vehicle should tell you when to change out the fluids and exactly what kinds to use. Regardless of which ATV make/model you own, the same basic rules apply: check your fluid frequently for both its level and condition, and change the fluid based on the manufacturer's recommendations. 

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