The wind rushing over your body as you tear through beautiful countryside can be a truly exhilarating experience. Distracted by the adrenaline rush, the strange squeaks and rattles emitted from your all-terrain vehicle can easily be ignored until your adventure comes to a literal halt courtesy of a breakdown. Just as you’d do with your car, it’s time to change your mentality from seeing your ATV as merely a “toy” to viewing it as an investment that will pay long-term dividends if you take proper care of it.
CLEAR THE AIR
As the air filter is the breathing inlet for the motor, check regularly that it’s properly secured in the housing so clean air will enter the engine. If it gets clogged with even fine dust more fuel will enter the engine than air, which can damage the spark plug and lead to leaking. On independent suspension machines, the constant velocity joints are protected by CV axle boots. Keep an eye on these because if they somehow become torn, the joint will eventually be ruined. This clears the path for trail trash, mud, and water to enter the joint and grind it down until the damage is irreversible. Riding in deep water can occasionally cause the transmission to slip. If this happens find dry land and drain the CVT box located on the bottom rear of the box itself. This is important because belt driven machines transfer power from the motor to the transmission, but only if they are dry and cool. Water can cause the belt to slip which burns wear spots and can eventually lead to belt failure.
RIDE COOL NOT HOT
The next aim of your inspection should be on the cooling system itself, which usually gets very little attention. Two specific areas to hone in on are the radiator and the condition of the coolant. In addition, if you constantly drive in mud or carry heavy loads you may want to invest in coolant replacement like Evans Coolant which was developed for extreme conditions. Be aware that you should always leave the actual replacement of any coolant to a trained service mechanic. Before you fire up your ride for what is sure to be an enjoyable day, invest time in double checking that the radiator is free of obstructions. You don’t want the fan to become coated because that will prevent the fluid from being cooled as effectively. While the engine is still cold, investigate the radiator cap, check the fluid level, and use a coolant tester for the antifreeze. A tester can be purchased at any auto parts store.
Small items such as wheel bearings, ball joints, and tie rod ends wear fast and can affect the steering. Every couple of rides prior to heading out, look over the front of the machine to ensure they are all secure in place. Periodically you’ll want to complete a more in-depth inspection of front suspension and steering at home. Find a level spot in the garage or driveway and put wheel chocks in place behind the rear wheels to keep it stationary. Now use a jack and raise the machine up at the center of the chassis. The front wheels only need to be high enough off the ground to spin, so place the jack up front on the flattest part of the chassis but far enough back to ensure it doesn’t slide back off once up in the air. With your hands on each wheel in the 9 and 3 o’clock positions simulate turning the steering by gently pushing the wheel to the front and back. This test is looking for any possible looseness. Move your hand to the 12 o’clock position on the wheel and push in at the top, which will reveal any loose wheel bearings. Finally test for loose ball joints by pulling out, then pushing in on the bottom of the wheel while observing the upper and lower control arms to the wheel hub or steering knuckle.
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