Do ATV's Need To Be Winterized? | Hunt or Shred

When the winter months approach, lots of preparation is required. ATV riders typically ask if their vehicles need to be winterized for the upcoming season.

ATVs need to be winterized, or they can wear out while in storage, and they will struggle to handle winter conditions confidently. Winterizing an ATV includes extra tire pressure, new oil, adding a fuel stabilizer, and finding a proper storage area when the vehicle is not in use.

The winterizing process can be done by yourself, or you can use a professional to do it for you. We consider it necessary for all ATV owners, and we will explain why below, along with some tips to winterize an ATV properly.

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Do ATVs Need To Be Winterized?

ATVs should be winterized before being used in cold weather. It should also be winterized before placing it in storage for the cold months.

Winterization prepares a vehicle for cold weather conditions by performing maintenance and making necessary repairs or modifications.

Winterizing an ATV typically involves several steps, including:

  • Changing the engine oil to a type that is suitable for cold weather
  • Checking the coolant level and adding antifreeze if necessary
  • Checking the battery and charging or replacing it if needed
  • Cleaning and lubricating the chain or belt
  • Checking the tires and inflating them to the proper pressure
  • Checking the brakes and making any necessary repairs or adjustments
  • Installing any necessary cold-weather equipment, such as a windshield or heated grips

By winterizing your ATV, you can help ensure that it will operate reliably and safely in cold weather conditions.

This can help prevent problems such as engine failure, frozen brakes, or difficulty starting the engine, which can be dangerous and frustrating. It may also help extend its lifespan by protecting it from the damaging effects of cold weather.

Why Should You Winterize An ATV?

Winterizing an ATV is the process of preparing your ATV for the winter. It protects the engine and other components from corrosion, wear, and damage.

However, there are two main reasons why it should be done and specific steps to consider based on each reason. We can winterize an ATV for winter storage or for winter riding and performance.

Winterize For Storage

First, many people avoid using their ATVs in the winter, so they ask how they can store them correctly during winter. This is when we recommend winterizing the vehicle for storage.

This would include removing fuel and other fluids, cleaning the ATV, covering it, and finding a safe storage location. This is much different than upgrading the vehicle with winter accessories for better performance.

Winterize For Performance

If the plan is to go off-road with the vehicle in the winter for snow plowing and other adventures, upgrades must be made so the engine can hold up in the cold weather.

We recommend new tires, oil, and a fuel stabilizer to avoid freezing. Regular checks on freezing days are also helpful to ensure the vehicle is running correctly before rerunning it.

How Do You Winterize An ATV?

Winterizing an ATV is a process that will improve the performance of the vehicle in cold weather. It also ensures the vehicle remains effective and durable in these conditions while kept in storage. Here's how to do it.

Clean The ATV

To winterize an ATV, you should start by cleaning it thoroughly and removing any debris or dirt that has accumulated on the vehicle. This will help prevent corrosion and other damage during the winter months.

This is especially important when storing the vehicle away for the winter. A dirty ATV will be difficult to clean after sitting in cold weather, allowing dirt and mud to freeze on the vehicle's exterior.

It’s also easier to upgrade various parts, like tires, on the ATV when it’s clean first. A quick cleaning after each use is also recommended.

Check Or Replace The Battery

After that, you should check the battery and ensure it is in good condition. If the battery is old or not holding a charge, consider replacing it before the winter season begins.

Before the cold weather arrives, it’s best to check on the battery to see how it performs. Freezing temperatures can cause a worn battery to die, which could be a problem while riding.

If the plan is to put the ATV in storage, we recommend removing the battery completely. This will keep it intact for next season when the ATV is back on the trails.

Upgrade The Oil And Filters

Next, you should check all the fluid levels, including the engine oil, transmission oil, and coolant, and add more if necessary. You should also change the oil and oil filter if necessary.

Once the vehicle is clean and all the fluids are topped off, you can prepare it for storage. This may involve draining the fuel tank and running the engine until it is out of gas or adding a fuel stabilizer to the gas to prevent it from going bad.

Add A Fuel Stabilizer

ATV fuel stabilizers can keep the fuel from getting too thick and gummy during the winter. This way, your ATV will start up more effortlessly in the spring.

We recommend using a fuel stabilizer if you winterize an ATV because it keeps the fuel fresh for longer, so the fuel is still likely to ignite after sitting in storage unused for a few months.

Find A Storage Location

Finally, you should store the ATV in a dry, cool place, such as a garage or storage shed, and cover it with a tarp or other protective covering to keep out moisture and debris.

It’s possible to store an ATV outdoors too, but we prefer to keep it inside somewhere with more protection. This will help ensure your ATV is ready to go when the weather warms up again in the spring.

What Would Happen If You Don’t Winterize An ATV?

If you don't winterize an ATV, it can be damaged in the cold weather. This includes damaged tires, reduced battery life, unexpected engine failure, and extreme corrosion and wear, leading to expensive repairs.

Damaged Tires

Tires are a significant part of the performance of an ATV, and they need to be designed for the environment in which they will be used. In winter, snow and ice can cause damage to the tires on an ATV because they are not built for snow and ice.

By upgrading to winter tires and using chains with them in the snow, it’s easier to protect them and avoid any damage. The ATV will also drive better with much more traction for improved safety.

Reduced Battery Life

If you tend to the battery before the winter, there is a strong chance you will experience better battery life while using your ATV. This is one reason why we recommend removing the battery from the vehicle when putting it into storage.

If the battery were to sit in the cold or idled for a few months, it would work less efficiently than before. This would likely cause you to spend money to upgrade the ATV’s battery for something new.

Unexpected Engine Failure

If you avoid winterizing an ATV, unexpected engine failure is possible because it needs new oil and filters for the cold weather. Without them, the engine could struggle to regulate temperatures.

On the other hand, storing an ATV during the winter with all the fluids could cause problems too. We recommend flushing the cooling system, adding new coolant, and draining the transmission oil.

Corrosion & Wear

The cold weather is here, and it's time to winterize your ATV. If you don't, it's likely to see corrosion and wear on the vehicle during the winter months.

These machines are not built to deal with freezing temperatures on their own. Proper maintenance allows them to get through difficult conditions without any problems.

Can You Store An ATV Outside During The Winter?

It is generally not recommended to store an ATV outside during the winter. Extreme cold temperatures can cause damage to the ATV's battery, tires, and other components.

It is best to store the ATV in a heated garage or shed to protect it from the elements. If you must keep the ATV outside, cover it with a waterproof tarp to protect it from snow and ice.

Additionally, you should regularly check the ATV for any signs of damage and take steps to prevent it from freezing, such as keeping the gas tank full to avoid moisture from building up inside.

If you have no place to keep the ATV other than outdoors, it must be covered exceptionally well. Avoid placing it in open areas where it may get covered with snow too.

Key Takeaways

  • ATVs need to be winterized, and this should be done both for storage during the winter or use during the winter.
  • We do not recommend storing an ATV outdoors during the winter because it’s more likely to get damaged with direct exposure to freezing temperatures.
  • Winterizing an ATV can be done by cleaning the ATV, replacing or removing the battery, upgrading the oil and filters, and adding a fuel stabilizer.




41 years old. I'm a freelance writer that specializes in informational blog posts. All my articles are detail oriented and well researched. I'm a huge Arizona Cardinals fan!

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