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How to Winterize Your ATV

If you live somewhere hot, then it might be possible for you to keep riding your ATV throughout the winter. If, however, you get long snowy winters, then you will have to pack up your ATV for months on end. That can cause serious damage to some of the components!

To winterize your ATV, you will have to change the oil and coolant, clean and lubricate the ATV, treat the fuel, change the air filter, block off any holes which a mouse could get through, and remove the battery. The battery and fuel mix are the most important steps here!

So now you have a basic idea of what is needed to keep your ATV ticking over until the spring comes around. In this article, we’ll be going into a lot more detail about what exactly you need to do to keep your favorite toy in good shape. Let’s begin!

Clean Your ATV

The first thing you are going to want to do is to clean your ATV all over. By removing the moist mud and other dirt, you prevent the components from oxidizing while in storage. It is also a good idea to clean and lubricate the chain, pedals, and control cables. Make sure to dry the ATV properly before storage to prevent rust! A coat of polish will also help your ATV stay functional, while also making it look brand new. 

Treat the Fuel

This is one of the most important steps. Treating your fuel with stabilizer is necessary to prevent corrosion during the long winter months. Nowadays, most fuel contains about 10% ethanol, which can separate from the rest of the fuel and damage the tank. A fuel stabilizer will prevent this from happening. 

Here are the steps on how to treat your fuel:

  1. The first thing you will need for this is a bottle of fuel stabilizer, like this Gold Eagle Sta-Bil Fuel Stabilizer, which you can buy on Amazon.
  1. Follow the instructions and safety guidelines on the bottle.
  1. It is a good idea to run the engine of the ATV for about 10 minutes in order to spread the stabilizer around all the nooks and crannies of your engine. Better yet, take it out for a short ride!
  1. When you start the ATV back up after winter, it might be tricky to get the engine going again. The fuel stabilizer will help the engine to start back up with no problems!

Change the Oil

This is another vital step when it comes to keeping your ATV in proper working order. It is recommended that you change the oil about once every 100 hours of use. 

When you have added the oil, run the engine for a few minutes to distribute the oil throughout the system. This will lubricate parts that wouldn’t otherwise get oil if you simply added it and walked away. It is a good idea to start up the ATV every month or so during winter just to get the oil moving around. 

Keep Out Invaders Like Rats, Mice, and Squirrels

You would be surprised how many critters will make their nest in your ATV if you don’t block the openings. In particular, rodents like rats, mice, and squirrels will jump at the opportunity to spend the cold winter months in your quad’s warm comfort. 

Here are some tips on how to keep these little guys out of your ATV:

  • The first thing you need to do to prevent winter lodgers is to block holes, for example, the exhaust opening, the inlet and outlet ducts on the CVT clutch, or the inlet ports to the airbox. A plastic bag or cloth and some duct tape should do just fine!
  • If you are storing your ATV in a shed or garage, it is good to try and block off any entrances that a mouse might use to get into the spaces. There are many holes on the ATV that a mouse could get into. But not if there aren’t any mice in your shed. 
  • You can also use scented dryer sheets to block up holes. This is a great humane way to deter mice and other rodents from making a home in your quad. 

Preserve Your Battery

This is another very important step. It is a good idea to actually disconnect and remove the battery to stop it from draining over winter. Charge the battery fully before putting it in storage. If you let your battery drain fully over the winter, then there is a good chance it will have to be replaced when the ATV finally comes out of storage. 

Here are some tips on preserving your battery: 

  • Like motorcycles, many ATV manufacturers place the battery underneath the seat. Check the owner’s manual to find the exact location of yours. 
  • You may need to use a socket to remove the bolt holding the battery in place. You can pick up this great AmazonBasics Mechanics Socket Set if you don’t have a socket. 
  • If you don’t have one already, it is also good to buy a trickle charger like this Mroinge MBC010 Automotive Trickle Battery Charger, which is also available on Amazon. A trickle charger will slowly add a charge to the battery, keeping it juiced without draining your electricity bill!

Check the Quality of the Coolant

This one is probably not absolutely necessary, but it is a good idea to do it anyway. While you are preparing your ATV for the winter, it is as good a time as any. The coolant should be changed approximately every two years, so you don’t need to do this every winter. Tools are available, which can quickly check the quality of the coolant. 

Again, Amazon carries just the thing with its Antifreeze Refractometer for Glycol.

Change Your Air Filter

This is another vital step. If you regularly clean or change the air filter, your ATV can last a lot longer than it would otherwise! An old air filter can allow dirt, sand, and other debris to get into the engine, which can seriously reduce the life expectancy of an ATV. 

Here are the steps involved in replacing the filter:

  1. Depending on the make and model of your ATV, you may have to remove the seat to get to the airbox. Next, remove the airbox cover to reveal the filter.
  1. Remove the filter, then clean the inside of the air box using contact cleaner and a rag. 
  1. If there are any rips or tears in the filter, then it will need to be replaced. If not, you may just be able to soak it in warm soapy water, then squeeze it out.
  1. Replace the new or cleaned filter and cover the airbox back up, making sure not to leave any holes for critters!

The Final Touches

There are a few more things you will want to do before putting your quad away for winter:

  • If you still have an ATV with a carburetor, it is recommended to drain the float bowl.
  • Inflate the tires to slightly above the pressure, which is normally recommended. 
  • If you can, raise the ATV up off the floor using a jack or stand. 
  • Cover the ATV in a tarp or other covering. 

Summary

Now you know what needs to be done if you want your ATV to still be in working order when the spring comes around. A lot of these steps are just part of normal quad maintenance, so you may already be ahead of the game!

Good luck with storing your ATV for the winter.

Levi Bath

I'm the co-creator of OffRoad Lifestyles. I live in Loveland, Colorado with my wife and 3 kids. My wife and I have spent a lot of time out on the sand dunes near Walden, CO and we both love offroading and camping.

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