Can You Use Car Oil in a Four-Wheeler?

If you have a car and a four-wheeler, you may be tempted to stick with the same oil for both of them. It’s convenient, but you’re also probably thinking that since the oil can work for a car engine, it should work with a four-wheeler. Is this a good idea, though?

You can use car oil for a four-wheeler, but it is not the right decision in many cases. This is because the oil formulation will affect different engines in different ways. The perfect car oil may not have the right formulation required to keep a four-wheeler running optimally.  

The rest of the article will take a closer look at the case against pouring car oil into a four-wheeler engine. There’s also a section on the best oils to use instead.

Why Regular Car Oil Won’t Work in four-wheelers

The main reasons we add oil to engines are to protect against wear and tear and protect against the damage caused by extreme heat while the engine is running. Under extreme heat, deposits will form in the engine, making it less powerful and reducing its overall efficiency. The heat can also lead to faster oxidation of the oil, which will make it unable to protect the engine as it should.

So, while it may seem like a good idea to use the same motor oil you already have or to buy a cheap one at the store, you should reconsider the decision if you don’t want to damage your engine. Or waste too much time, energy, and money on trying to prevent oxidation via regular oil changes.

How Car Oil Interacts With a four-wheeler Engine

A four-wheeler won’t see a lot of miles when compared to your regular car, but the engine in it revs very high and runs super hard when in use. The engine is designed to work heavily, but at slower speeds than a car. This engine configuration means that conventional car oil will, in most cases, not have enough oil film strength for the engine.

The slow, but power-sapping operations of a four-wheeler increases stress on engine bearings. If the oil film strength is inadequate (as is the case with car oils in such an engine), the pressure from running the engine will rupture the oil film, leading to worn out bearings.

Oils designed for four-wheelers ensure that durable protective film remains in the engine regardless of the condition. By getting these instead of using regular car oil, your machine’s engine will function more optimally.  

Another important point you should keep in mind here is that oil made for four-wheelers also have to lubricate the transmission. Car oils don’t have this composition as the transmission in conventional vehicles typically has a designated lubricant. 

four-wheeler oils don’t come with the same type of friction modification seen in car oils, so they do a better job when it comes to protecting your transmission and ensuring excellent transmission performance.

How Often Should You Change Your four-wheeler Oil?

You should change the oil in a four-wheeler more frequently compared to your car, in terms of total miles traveled. The exact frequency will vary depending on usage, but you should aim to change the oil in the vehicle every 100 hours or 1000 miles on average. However, you don’t have to wait until you hit those numbers. The oil in the engine will lose its efficacy after around six months due to oxidation.

If you use your four-wheeler for sport, you should change the oil every 25 to 30 hours. If you take part in races regularly, you should change the oil after every race. For racing, protecting the engine is more important than anything else. 

You need to ensure your engine can handle the stress and heat from racing, and the best way to do this is to ensure there’s fresh oil providing high film strength and resistance to thermal breakdown at all times.

Are There Signs to Look Out for Before Changing Your four-wheeler Oil?

Unfortunately, you can’t use an eye-test to know when to change the engine oil in a four-wheeler. The only way to do this is to take some of the oil to the lab for some checks. Apart from the fact that you have to know what to check for first and foremost, this is obviously impractical for a lot of people. Therefore, the best bet is to stick to the recommended oil change intervals above as closely as possible.

Best Oils to Use for a four-wheeler Vehicle

If you’re looking for the best oils to use for your four-wheeler, the first thing you should do is check your user manual to see the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Most manufacturers of four-wheeler vehicles also have in-house oil, which they recommend for use on their four-wheelers. Yamaha and Cam-Am are popular examples, with their YamaLube All-Purpose and Can-Am XPS 4-Stroke, respectively. Other oils may have extra advantages, but using the oil designed to work for the engine by the vehicle manufacturer covers all the basics at the very least.

If your manufacturer doesn’t have a product you can buy, they will provide specific recommendations on the type of oil you should use. Pay attention to the type of oil recommended, and most importantly, the viscosity. Armed with this information, you can head to the shop. 

Here are some of the best ATV Oil options in the market today:

Maxima ATV Premium Engine Oil

Since 1979, Maxima has been producing high-quality lubricants for all kinds of engines. Their racing history also means you can count on them to produce the right lubricant needed for high rev engines such as four-wheelers. The oil’s tolerance for heat and fluidity is without doubts some of the best you’ll find.

Amsoil 5W-50

The AMSOIL brand has become synonymous with synthetic oils. They’ve been producing lubricants for more than 40 years, focusing on providing a range of products suited for four-wheelers. Their 5W-50 is a popular option, but you can look through their range of products for other options.

Polaris PS-4 

Polaris is another popular brand in the oil niche. Their PS-4 has the right chemical composition to keep your four-wheelers running optimally. It also comes with an oil change kit, including an oil filter. So, going with this option can save you some money on useful accessories.

Honda 08C35-A141L01

This model from Honda comes with a viscosity grade of 10W-40, which means it will work well across a wide temperature spectrum. This oil is popular with motorbike owners, but it has also been proven to work well with four-wheelers.

Valvoline 4-Stroke

The Valvoline 4-stroke is one of the engine oils designed with four-wheelers in mind. Its chemical composition means it is non-detergent oil. This allows it to work perfectly without an oil filter. It’s also another product you can trust to work in all kinds of weather.

Conclusion

Your car oil can work with your four-wheeler. However, over an extended period, this approach will reduce the engine’s efficiency and ultimately shorten its lifespan. To keep the engine in your vehicle functioning optimally, you should only use either manufacturer-recommended oils or other options that have been proven to work for vehicles like your brand.

When you find the right oil, you should be sure to change the oil regularly—in line with your typical usage. The best four-wheeler oils will still fail if you don’t change when it’s due.

ATV or Dirt Bike for Kids?

Maybe you grew up riding both ATVs and dirt bikes and are torn because you love both or you might be completely new to the sport and might not have a clue where to start and that’s ok. When it comes to your child, understandably, you would want to do a thorough analysis of each of these off-road rides before deciding which one is best suited for your kid and we are here to guide you.  

Deciding on a ATV or a dirt bike depends on factors like age, previous experience, and how the kid intends to use it. ATVs are great for someone who is a beginner and offers greater comfort in riding, while dirt bikes offer more suspension travel, can have greater speed, and quicker acceleration.

This article discusses in detail the various factors affecting the safety, ease, and durability of these two machines. It will help you understand the benefits that each of the bikes offers as well as inform you of the things you need to be aware of so that you can make an informed decision. Keep on reading to find out more about some of these major differences that set the two rides apart.

It Is Easier to Learn ATV

It has been seen that ATVs are much easier to learn compared to dirt bikes. All your kids will need is a basic set of instructions, and they will be all set to go for a ride. A dirt bike, on the other hand, will require your kids to invest more time in understanding the instructions, and it may take up to a few days before they can actually ride the bike.

Additionally, there is a much lower chance of crashing on an ATV, whereas with a dirt bike, you should just plan on knowinging they are going to crash. Knowing this means you could take more preventive measures by buying more safety gear. In this video, you can see the set of instructions that your kid can follow to learn how to ride an ATV:

ATVs Are an All-Terrain Vehicle

ATVs can be used for longer periods of the year compared to dirt bikes. For instance, ATVs can do quite alright on light snow while dirt bikes can’t handle snow and ice the same.

So, if you live in a cold climate that sees snowfall during the winter, then opting for an ATV will be wiser. ATVs will be able to get far more traction on the ground than a dirt bike, and so it will be more stable than a dirt bike.

ATVs Are Less Prone to Crashing Compared to Dirt Bikes

The likelihood of crashes happening with ATVs is far lesser compared to dirt bikes. ATVs are encouraged for leisurely outings on trails and farmlands where the possibilities of a crash are less likely. To ensure safety, kids should not be encouraged to go too fast too soon and push the limits of the vehicle. For this purpose, ATV bikes make more sense than dirt bikes.

ATV or Dirt Bike: Which Is Safer?

ATVs usually feel safer as they are steadier when riding compared to dirt bikes. They are relatively easier to learn as well and are often recommended for beginners. Due to these reasons, it makes the rider feel more secure.

On dirt bikes, riders often tend to be seriously injured with broken bones and sustaining injuries that are more than just a scratch. Sometimes, during a crash, the rider is flung off, resulting in further grievous injuries.

As an added safety measure, you can use the right gear when you are on your ATV or dirt bike. Investing in GV Driving Mirror Glasses is a good option.

Helmets are another important piece of gear that you need to invest in in order to ensure the safety of your kid. The ILM Youth Kids Helmet is lightweight and incredibly durable, making it a great investment for your kid’s ATV adventures.

ATVs Have More Functional Value Than Dirt Bikes

Dirt bikes do not allow for carrying any equipment or provide any sort of storage solution. ATVs are a better choice in this regard and is being used often when going out for camping trips. Carrying things at the back of a dirt bike seems quite impossible, but with ATVs, you could easily carry a small tent. Due to these reasons, the functional value of ATV rates is higher than a dirt bike.

It Is Easier to Carry Dirt Bikes

If you are planning a weekend trip where you plan on going quad biking, dirt bikes are easier to haul because of their lightweight. ATVs, on the other hand, are far more heavyweight and will not be easy to carry at the back of a truck or van if you are going away for the weekend.

A dirt bike weighs 200 lbs while an ATV weighs close to three times that. This makes it easier to move and load a dirt bike around compared to an ATV.

Dirt Bikes Are Suitable for Those Seeking Adrenaline Rush

Dirt bikes are made for adrenaline junkies. It gives a rush to the rider, and they are constantly at the edge of their seat when driving a dirt bike. ATVs do not cater to this kind of adrenaline-seeking crowd. It is meant for comparatively slow-paced biking.

ATVs Can Carry Passengers

ATVs can accommodate passengers on it in addition to the rider. Though there are many ATVs out there that do not have a passenger seat, many choose to take a passenger along anyway as the ATVs have proven that it is possible to carry passengers even on a single-rider machine. This, however, is not recommended.

Dirt bikes have provision for a single-rider only. If you are planning to take your young one on a bike ride, then using an ATV over a dirt bike is recommended. Opt for ATVs that have provision for carrying passengers when you are taking your kid along.

ATVs Cost More Than Dirt Bikes

If one were to avert one’s eyes from the safety perspective for a moment and only consider the cost of the vehicle, then perhaps the dirt bike will come across as the winner. For the sake of comparison, you can look at the chart below:

MakeATV CostDirt Bike Cost
Mid-Grade Honda$7,300$4,500
Mid-Grade Suzuki$8,500$7,700
Old Mid-Grade Honda$4,700$3,000

However, it is important to note that the severity of the injury, should any occur, is likely to be far more for a dirt bike than for an ATV. So, pinching pennies when purchasing a bike may not always translate to savings in the longer run.

Conclusion

If your kid is just beginning to learn quad biking and intends to go out on leisurely rides or use it more as a functional machine, then opting for an ATV makes more sense. On the other hand, if you are looking for something that is easier to haul and ride and relatively more lightweight, then the dirt bike is a better option for your kid.

It is important to remember that no matter what you choose for your kid, you will have to ensure that all proper safety measures are taken at all times in order to avoid any mishap and make the experience more enjoyable. 

How Many Miles Can a 4-Wheeler Go on a Tank of Gas?

If you’ve owned your quad for more than one season then you’ve probably already had the experience of walking the 4-wheeler back somewhere or bringing fuel back to your ATV. If you are trying to avoid that scenario then I’m sure you are wondering how far you actually can ride on a take of gas.

A 5.4 Gallon ATV tank can ride 108 miles averaging 20MPG. Factors that affect gas mileage: type and age of ATV, tank size, weight, throttle, terrain, tires, engine size, carburetor, and maintenance upkeep. To ensure you won’t run out of gas test your 4-wheeler before your trip and bring extra gas. 

  • Find your ATV’s fuel capacity in gallons, then multiply it by x 20 MPG this will give you an estimate on how far your ATV will travel. If you ride hard, multiply your gallons by a lower MPG like 16-18 MPG.

There are plenty of resources where you can easily find a car or truck’s mileage, but there is hardly any info out there for 4-wheelers which can be very agitating. We can give you a fairly close estimate, things that affect gas mileage, and a few other tips. That way, you won’t have to hike back to civilization, empty gas can in hand.

How Many Miles Can Your 4-Wheeler Go?

If it seems to you that there isn’t a lot of information about gas mileage and 4-wheelers, you are right. Trying to locate gas mileage information from dealers is just about impossible.   

For example, one website mentions that the fuel economy from all UTVs/ATVs in 2011 averages 39.47 miles per gallon. However, the same website also lists the date it was written as January 1, 1970. You decide how much you trust those numbers but it’s outdated. 

So then you can look up the specs on a specific 4-wheeler.  For example, here are just some of the specs on a 2021 Can-Am Outlander:

  • Two engine types—650 and 850, V-twin, liquid-cooled, with electronic fuel injection
  • The wheelbase is 51 inches (130 cm), and ground clearance is 11 inches (28 cm)
  • Seat height is 34.5 inches (88 cm)
  • Lighting is 230 W total, with twin 60-W projectors and 55-W reflectors
  • Fuel capacity is 5.4 gallons

Why Don’t Manufacturers Provide Miles per Gallon Information?

Manufacturers of ATVs and 4-wheelers don’t give out the same kind of information regarding gas mileage for several reasons. These are the two key ones:

  • Mileage varies too much. Although not everyone drives the same way and on the same kind of roads in cars, the differences are much smaller than with 4-wheelers. If ATV manufacturers started listing mpg, it wouldn’t be too long before customers began complaining that they weren’t getting anywhere the listed mileage.
  • They are not required to. Mileage requirements by the EPA are for on-road vehicles. Off-road recreational vehicles are not held to the same standards as automobile manufacturers. This gives ATV manufacturers the freedom to design engines for specific purposes and not worry about things like miles per gallon.

There really is only a small amount of info available—and nothing covers fuel mileage. If manufacturers don’t tell you, then the next source to turn to is people who actually own them.

What Other Users Say

To check out what 4-wheeler and ATV users reported, check out Fuelly, a site where vehicle owners report the mileage they have gotten.  

The number of people who report mileage for ATVs and 4-wheelers on Fuelly is much smaller than for cars. For example, over 1,000 people reported mpg’s on their 2012 Toyota Prius. The range there was equally broad, with a couple of cars in the 30s and a few over 60.

Users of ATV and 4-wheeler forums also report similar ranges. So if your buddies are giving you different numbers, saying it depends, or just “I don’t know,” it’s because the answer is dependent on many variables. And this is precisely why it’s hard to find an exact number because everyone drives ATV’s differently. A Utility ATV is going to be hauling more loads at slower speeds versus a Sport ATV might be ridden extremely fast and hard in racing conditions.

Factors That Affect Fuel Mileage 

Weight

It would be great if there were a formula that you could plug in and determine how much a specific weight will impact your gas mileage. The EPA estimates that for every hundred pounds of weight removed, gas mileage increases by 1 to 2 percent.  

A different study found that a 1% reduction in total weight increased fuel economy by 0.33%. Although this study was based on a vehicle weight of 3,200 pounds, it’s probably as close as you will get to a formula.

That estimate is for cars, not 4-wheelers, however. Also, the 100 pounds from a car is a larger percentage of its total weight than 100 pounds of an ATV. Still, the additional weight on your 4-wheeler is going to make its engine work harder, thus reducing fuel mileage.

When you bring back that buck you scored, your mileage coming back will be much lower, so make sure you plan accordingly.

Speed

It goes without saying that the faster you drive, the lower your fuel mileage. Again, there is no neat formula for speed versus mileage for off-road vehicles. The US Department of Energy has an excellent web page for ways to increase gas mileage—but the specifics are all about cars.  

If you want to know how much your 2012 Dodge Ram when you drive 75 miles instead of 60, check out the site. But your Polaris, Kawasaki, or Can-Am won’t be listed.  

Terrain

Terrain also dramatically impacts your gas mileage. Mileage is worse through woods and uneven terrain especially muddy trails that slow you down and in result you revving up your engine more. Same goes for climbing up a tall sand dune over and over, it’s just going to eat through the gas. 

Tires

Two factors related to tires impact your 4-wheelers mileage—tire pressure and tire size. Tires without proper air pressure force the engine to work harder, and when that happens, then mileage drops. Increased Tire size can also have a negative effect due to the added weight.                                                                                                                                                                           Colder temperatures cause tires to deflate so depending on what time of year you might add this into consideration, bring a tire gauge and a way to air those suckers up. Every little bit can help.

Other Factors

A few additional factors that affect ATV’s MPG’s include:

  • Make and age of 4-wheeler
  • Size of engine
  • Fuel-injection or carburetor
  • Regular Maintenance and upkeep

Carry Extra Fuel With You

If you haven’t bought an extra fuel container for your 4-wheeler, now is the time. These are a couple we recommend:

Here is the best ATV fuel Container:

  • EZ5 and EZ3 Utility Jugs – Three different ways to pour making it easy to adapt to your angle. You can see the liquid level at night time,  
  • The EZ Jug Floor Mount – Compatible with either the 3 or 5 Gallon EZ Utility Jugs. It’s easy to use, and allows you transport   
  • The Hose Bender – Finally a hose hooks up to the Utility jugs that locks into a bending position freeing up your hands to maneuver the jug to pour without spilling all over the place. Truly a one of a kind innovative product. US designed and made by MX enthustats! 

Other Recommendations:

  • FuelPaX by RotoPax 2.5 Gallon Fuel Container – These made-in-America fuel containers come in a variety of sizes, from 1.5 to 4.5. Containers are durable and leak-proof.
  • RotopaX Pack Mount – Another type of mount
  • GoPlus 5 Gallon Jerry Fuel Can – The metal is green and has a safety lock to prevent the can from opening accidentally and a built-in air breather for quick emptying. The 3-handle design allows two people to lift the tank, and other features include an anti-rust coating on the inside and outside.
  • The Smittybilt Jerry Gas Can Holder – This is an excellent holder for cans that do not have the RotopaX center hole mount. Designed for 5-gallon Jerry cans, the steel construction and locking strap will protect your can and secure your can. 

If You Are Still Not Sure About the Mileage

Maybe it’s time for a science experiment. Fill up your 4-wheeler and a gas can. Then run it until the tank is nearly empty and see how far you got. Make sure you know how accurate your fuel gauge is so that you do not run out completely.

Use Google Maps or another navigation system to double-check the mileage—the indicator on your vehicle might not be accurate. Then fill ‘er up again and head back. Anybody asks—tell them you were doing science.

Bottom Line

There are just too many factors at play to give an exact answer to the question of how far a 4-wheeler can go on a tank of gas. Use the 20 miles per gallon as a baseline, multiply that by the size of your tank, and carry some extra fuel with you as insurance.