Essential Routine ATV Maintenance Tasks: A Complete Guide | Hunt or Shred

Whether you are a long-time rider or new to ATVs, it is essential to perform routine maintenance tasks on your machine to keep them running smoothly.

ATV maintenance requires some expertise to understand how the machine works. If you are unsure, you can hire a mechanic but it is essential to stay on top of these tasks. Most importantly, you should always check the oil, check tire pressure, and check the air filters to ensure it is running well.

Every ATV owner needs to perform certain tasks to maintain their vehicle properly. You should also keep an eye out for the common problems that arise with different components of the ATV so you are aware of how to take care of them. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of necessary routine maintenance tasks for ATVs.

The need for ATV maintenance is a must. It is critical to maintain the quality of your riding experience and keep your vehicle in top shape. After inspecting hundreds of ATVs, we are sure this guide includes everything you need to become a pro on your own.

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8 Essential Routine ATV Maintenance Tasks

ATVs are vehicles that are designed for off-road use and can be used on many different terrain types. It is essential to take proper care of your ATVs to ensure that they run efficiently and last longer.

Because ATVs are meant to be used in tough conditions, it becomes even more important to maintain them properly. They are used for all kinds of purposes like hunting, agriculture, and even an occasional cross-country tour so the longer they can last, the better.

The essential routine ATV maintenance tasks, like checking the oil and fuel levels, should be done regularly to monitor your ATV’s performance. These are complex machines with lots of equipment involved to make them run effectively.

This list includes the most essential routine tasks that ATV riders should perform with their machines. These are things that they can do to maintain the performance, longevity, and safety of their machines.

1. Check and Change the Oil

Checking your ATV’s oil levels is a critical part of any routine maintenance check. The level of oil can change with the hours of use and the type of terrain you are riding on. To keep your ATV in top condition, you should always ensure that you have the correct amount of oil in your engine.

Oil is mainly used for cooling the engine, lubricating the rotating components, and reducing friction between moving parts of the engine. This is achieved by using an oil viscosity that can offer sufficient flow, but still, stick to any surface it touches.

This makes it essential to perform regular oil changes for ATV engine performance. These bikes run on a two-stroke or four-stroke engine, and both types need to be properly maintained. When done correctly, you can expect a longer-lasting machine too.

2. Clean and Change the Air Filter

It is important to use the right air filter for your ATV. Different air filters are designed to filter various types of particles. It is also necessary for ATV owners to clean and change their air filters as part of regular maintenance.

A dirty air filter is the cause of many ATV problems, including engine hesitation, power loss, and fuel consumption. It can also lead to more serious issues like damaged pistons or valves.

You should check your ATV’s manual to see what kind of air filter you have and remove the old filter. You can wash the area around the base of the old filter with soap and water, then rinse it off.

Be careful not to touch any oil on its surface as this can contaminate it before you mount it correctly, and cause it not to work as well as originally intended. Place a new pre-oiled foam or paper filter over the opening in front of where you removed the old one from.

3. Check and Maintain Tire Pressure

Many ATV owners neglect to check their tire pressure and manage it as part of their regular maintenance. Tire pressure is very important for safety and performance. It also affects the life of your tires, which can result in an expensive, avoidable repair.

The tires on an ATV are responsible for holding the entire weight of the vehicle, and they do this by compressing to maintain tight contact with the ground. Newer ATVs have a built-in pressure gauge, but it's important even for these vehicles to get a periodic check still.

Tires need air to function correctly and maintain their shape. If your tires are either overinflated or under-inflated, they can become damaged or even blow out. This is why it is so important to check and maintain tire pressure as a regular maintenance task for your ATV.

4. Regularly Wash

ATVs are used for both leisure and work purposes but most ATV owners do not understand the importance of regular ATV care. This results in a poorly maintained ATV which can lead to more costly repairs later.

You should regularly wash your vehicle as regular maintenance on your ATV to prevent corrosion, rusting, mold growing, and dirt from accumulating on your vehicle. This will keep it looking newer and running better for a longer period.

Properly maintaining your ATV is key to prolonging its life and performance. By washing it consistently, you can help avoid many costly repairs and make it easier for you to see potential problems before they get worse.\

5. Check the Belt

It may seem like a no-brainer to check the belt on your ATV, but it is not always at the forefront of people's minds. The belt is essential to drive your ATV by transferring power to the engine to perform well.

When it breaks, it will stop spinning and then your machine will be unable to move at all. Belts are also responsible for getting rid of the heat that is created by friction between two parts of the engine. If there is too much friction, this can lead to overheating which can cause serious problems in your engine.

Checking your ATV's belt is an important step to make sure it runs smoothly. It is important to know when belts need replacing because if you wait too long they might break on the trail.

6. Check Brakes

The brakes are one of the most important parts of an ATV. They can often be overlooked during regular maintenance, but they should be checked at least once every two months to ensure they are working properly.

You should also check the brake pads to see if they need replacing. They tend to wear down a bit quicker and they can cause your ATV to run poorly. The pads are held in place by springs that put pressure on them when they meet certain levels of force from the pistons.

If you notice your stopping distances being longer than usual or noises occurring during braking, these are common signals that it may be time to check or replace your current brakes.

7. Monitor Coolant Levels

Monitoring the coolant levels is a necessary part of ATV maintenance. Keep your ATV running at its best by ensuring that the cooling system is clean, the cooling fluid is at the correct level, and there are no leaks.

By monitoring this regularly, you can avoid damage to the engine. When you are checking for coolant levels, be sure to also check for any leaks or any other issues that could cause an issue with your driving experience.

You should also check the engine temperature gauge on your dashboard since it will give you a good idea of how much fluid is in the radiator and how warm it is getting. The coolant level can drop if you are experiencing engine issues or leaky seals so it is important to stay on top of this.

8. Keep an Eye on All Nuts and Bolts

Regular maintenance is a key factor in ensuring that your ATV stays in top shape and without it, you can experience mechanical failure. Keeping an eye on all nuts and bolts as regular maintenance on your ATV is extremely important.

The machines are built with specific components but because of the difficult terrains you tend to drive on with an ATV, it is a common occurrence for parts to come loose. These parts are more prone to wear and tear or just more sensitive than others.

How Often Should You Service Your ATV?

There are several reasons to have your ATV serviced regularly, including keeping it running smoothly and ensuring that any potential engine problems are identified before they become more serious.

Some people tend to service their ATVs as infrequently as possible, but this can lead to significant problems in the future. It is for this reason that an annual inspection is recommended by most manufacturers.

Service intervals vary by manufacturer and model, so it's important to refer to your owner's manual for the specific service intervals. However, most manufacturers recommend a factory service once a year or every six months depending on usage and other factors.

For new ATVs, you should change the engine oil and filter at roughly 25 engine hours. This is to ensure that the engine is running smoothly and prepare the vehicle for future usage.

After this initial change, you should perform routine ATV checks every 100 miles. This includes keeping an eye on all of the routine maintenance tasks included in this guide. They can be tracked easily and it helps you spot a problem sooner rather than later.

How Long Do ATVs Last?

Owning an ATV is a lot of fun. They make the perfect vehicle for any type of off-road adventure. However, the costs associated with owning an ATV can add up over time.

You have to pay for gas, maintenance, and repairs. They also have a shorter lifespan than a car or truck which means you'll need to replace them sooner.

To get the most out of your ATV purchase, you must maintain them properly. A well taken care of ATV can last for up to 10 years if you perform routine maintenance as needed.

In general, you can expect to get 5 to 8 years of usage from an ATV if it is taken care of consistently. The lifespan also will vary based on the brand you buy and the type of ATV you are using.

This includes the potential to put on up to 10,000 total miles on your ATV. If you plan to purchase a used ATV, we recommend not buying anything with more than 3,000 miles so you can get plenty of usage from it still.

ATVs differ from traditional vehicles though and usage is best defined in total hours. It serves as an additional metric on top of miles to track the amount of use on your ATV.

On the higher end, you can get over 1,000 hours from your ATV. Many service checklists will include both the miles and hours so you can perform maintenance when needed.

Common ATV Maintenance Issues

ATVs have a lot of moving parts that need to be properly maintained to keep the engine running smoothly and the vehicle going in a straight line.

They are made to be driven in different types of terrain, so you must take the time to maintain them. This includes rugged conditions that could cause common issues to occur.

Ignition Failure

Ignition failure is one of the most common ATV maintenance issues. This problem can be due to any number of reasons but most commonly happens from internal corrosion or wear.

Ignition failures are common among ATVs. It can be one of the most frustrating things for an ATV owner to experience. You will be unable to operate the ignition or kill switch and this will make it difficult to properly stop and start your machine.

Other reasons also include a wiring issue internally. This can be even more difficult to track. But if you are experiencing issues, look for signs to identify ignition issues like the ATV shutting off despite the key being in the ignition.

Worn Out Spark Plugs

A worn-out spark plug is a common ATV maintenance issue. Spark plugs must always be replaced when it becomes worn because without them the engine will not know when to start and stop.

Spark plug wires are responsible for delivering the electrical current to the plugs, which in turn, create the spark that ignites fuel inside the engine cylinders.

When these wires become corroded or brittle over time, they cannot carry enough current to the plugs to create a strong enough spark, and this leads to poor performance and even engine stalling.

The solution for this problem is replacing the worn-out spark plugs with new ones. This will restore your engine's optimal operating conditions by providing a steady stream of electricity from each cylinder to each plug.

Carburetor Problems

Carburetors are the heart of an ATV's engine. The carburetor regulates air and fuel flow to create a combustible mixture that is used to ignite the engine. Over time, dirt, dust, water, and other materials can get in between your carburetor parts and cause problems with how it functions.

Carburetor issues primarily stem from improper use and maintenance. The best thing to do is remove it and clean it out well. This typically will solve the issue and have you running at full capacity again.  

However, if it seems more serious you may be forced to replace the carburetor entirely. This can be a more costly issue but without a fully operational carburetor, your ATV will not run.

Dead Battery

A dead battery is another common ATV maintenance issue. The most likely cause of a dead battery is lack of use, but there are several other causes as well. Luckily, this is a relatively easy fix in most cases.

Similar to a car battery, you will need to jump-start the battery to get it started to see if it is working properly and have your ATV running again. You can jumpstart an ATV battery with another ATV or a car too.

You can also try a compression start, but this process is a bit more complex where you trick the ATV into starting.

Overused Clutch

Most of the time, riders will not notice that they are riding with an overused clutch until it has caused severe damage to their gears. Just like any other component on a vehicle or machine, clutches need to be replaced after a certain mileage.

This is because the clutch's parts are wearing down and it is no longer able to provide reliable performance. The clutch becomes worn out, causing slipping and grinding.

The clutch is an important part of the ATV's operation. It is used to disengage the engine from the transmission. If you are planning to use your ATV for heavy-duty, you will want to make sure that it is in good working order, or else your clutch could malfunction.

What Tools Do You Need For ATV Maintenance Tasks?

ATV maintenance is a difficult task for many people and they do not know what tools they should use, and how to go about the task. A reliable set of tools is essential to own as an ATV rider and will make your life much easier.

This is a long list of maintenance tasks, meaning you also will need to have quite a few tools on hand to keep up with them regularly too. However, you can find them available on a budget and they will last a long time too.

Some of the important tools you should have include:

  • Tire pumps
  • Tire pressure gauges
  • Torque wrench
  • Wide range of sockets and sizes
  • Screwdriver set with multiple sizes
  • Hammer
  • Electric drill
  • Oil
  • Antifreeze
  • Lubricant
  • Air and oil filters for replacement

These will come in handy for jobs like changing a tire or cleaning out a carburetor. This list of tools helps perform routine maintenance tasks on an ATV.

What Is The Average Cost To Maintain or Fix Your ATV?

There are various ways to maintain or fix your ATV. You can take it to a mechanic or just do the maintenance yourself. On average, a repair should cost around $100-$400 depending on the severity of the issue, but it's hard to say an exact figure without knowing what is wrong with the ATV.

There are a variety of things that you need to take into account when it comes to the cost of maintaining or fixing your ATV. For example, you may need to purchase new tires or chains and if you do not know how to fix them, you will be required to pay someone else to do it.

Some people prefer buying additional items such as gadgets and tools that can help them in the process of repairing their ride. This can save you money in the long run and allows you to start prepared if something happens.

It is a good idea to factor ATV repairs into your budget because no machine is ever going to be perfect. If you are using it regularly, some issues will arise simply because of the terrain you drive on and the style of the vehicle.

Where Should You Store Your ATV?

The best place to store your ATV is in a dry garage or an indoor storage unit. It is important to keep it away from outside elements like rain or consistent sunlight to ensure it will last as long as possible.

You should never store your ATV outside for an extended period. This leaves it too susceptible to damages, rust, and overall wear. This wear will cause more problems in the future and increase the time you spend on maintenance.

The ATV can also be stored in a shed. Another option for those without the space is to keep it outside but use a durable cover over it to keep it protected. This can work well and if you are short on space, it might be your best option.




29 years old. I'm from Texas. I've been riding ATV's for the last couple years here in TX. I'm learning a lot about this hobby right along side you.

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