A pre-ride ATV checklist can keep you on the trail and out of trouble
Getting out on the trail is a concern for many and with weekends not being nearly long enough for us it seems we will just have to get out there and ride. But before squeezing the throttle you’ll want to make sure your ATV is as ready to ride as you are.Without proper maintenance your ATV will turn from being reliable to being a nuisance. We want to take just a brief look at some things to consider before heading out on the trail.
If your gas has been sitting in the tank for months or even worse, since last season, you need to drain the tank and carburetor. Then refill with fresh fuel. Getting the old gas out means the engine will run like it is supposed to instead of struggling.
Tires are often overlooked due to the fact that many of us think, if they hold air they are good. But what you may not see is the nail in the sidewall that can break loose and flatten the tire. You could also lose control if this happens at the wrong time. Check the tires of your ATV for wear as well as air pressure. Trying to steer a half flat tire can make your ride day a miserable one.
Being able to stop your ATV is certainly important and knowing you have good brakes is confidence you want to have. The brake pads should never be metal to metal. Checking pad wear is something many will overlook but it is as easy as getting eye to eye with the caliper and simply looking. The pad needs to be at very minimum 1/8th inch thick for a light day of riding. Neglecting your brake pads can ruin the caliper and many other parts and before you know it you have an expensive fix on your hands.
The oil in your ATV is the life-blood of the motor and transmission. You should check the oil level before each ride. Simply looking at the fluid on the dipstick can tell you how much oil you’ve got.. With water-cooled engines the oil may turn milky brown, which indicates water in the oil. This is a serious red flag. Riding with contaminated oil like this will eventually ruin the entire engine.
Be sure to look over the steering connections to the wheels. The tie rods are a wear item and if one should break loose you’ll be left with just one wheel controlling you. While you are checking out the tie rods give the ball joints a look as they too can wear without much notice and that’s another bad crash waiting to happen.
Making sure that the wheel is attached to the machine is a good way to avoid crashing. Some lugs are meant to be installed a certain direction and if installed incorrectly you can have problems. If not properly tightened some lugs can work themsleves loose.
Sport quads have chains and these need maintenance as well. Oiling a chain is important, but making sure it is tight and not stretched out of specification is important as well. Chains can become stretched from excessive jumping of the machine. Rough trails are not easy on chains either, so open your factory service manual and check the limits of your chain.
If your ATV has an electric start then it has a battery. This can play a vital role in the safe return to the trailer. Keeping a gentle trickle charge on the battery during the year keeps the electrical system happy, so be sure to invest in a small charger as well.
Keeping your ride cool is key in the hottest months. Extracting debris from the radiator is as simple as rinsing it with a water hose. Check the level of coolant regularly to be sure you don’t overheat your ride. Remember to check the fluid when it’s cold and not hot.
Having control of your ATV is extremely important. Keeping the grips in place is as simple as using grip glue or safety wire. If the grips are falling apart then replace them. You should be able to find plenty of grip options for under $10. These tips are just brushing the surface of what needs to be checked on any ATV or UTV before riding. You can check most of these things very quickly and be on the trail in no time.