ATV Check-Up: How to Make Sure Your Quad is Running Healthy in 10 Minutes
Keeping today's ATVs in top running condition isn't difficult. However, neglect can be the downfall of any machine asked to pass beyond its maintenance boundaries. Dave Krompacky, owner of Alaska Mountain Magic, has seen it all. He and his family run an ATV dealership on the Parks Highway at the half way point between Denali National Park and Anchorage, Alaska. He has the only ATV repair facility north of mile marker 98 until you get to Healey--that's 150 miles. "Today's machines will run under some of the most horrific conditions known to man, and most of them are just a few miles away from this location," says Krompacky. It's the basics that will keep your ATV humming on the trail.
Check your air filter before each trip and clean or replace it as necessary. “If you’re in a group of ATVs on a dusty trail, the bikes in the rear will have far dirtier filters at the end of the day than the lead machines,” says Krompacky. It’s a simple maintenance point that takes only a few seconds to carry out.
Most new bikes can take a deep dunk with few problems. However, if you sink your bike in water over your knees, check all your fluids including your differential/transfer case. If fluids are discolored or have a milky color, change them as soon as possible. If your drive belt starts to slip, this may be another sign of contamination.
The Big Two–Gas and Power Ironically, lack of use is a bigger problem than overuse. “Sitting can just kill a machine,” Krompacky says. “Depending on conditions, sitting as few as 30 to 90 days can create irritating problems with the fuel system and battery.” Clean Gas Use a fuel conditioner or better yet, a portable fuel filter funnel. “Moisture and even ethanol can create numerous problems,” Krumpacky says. The longer the bike is not used, the higher the potential to have an undesirable reaction. It’s the number one problem we see, and it even happens in fuel-injected bikes.”
A Full Charge If your bike is going to sit close to sixty days, pull the battery. “Although the digital instruments are a great help in navigation and safe operation, they can drain a battery,” Krumpacky says. “This can be a serious problem at a wilderness cabin or during the winter.” Another option is to use a motorcycle-ATV trickle charger. This one is solar powered.
Always refer to your manufacturer’s service manual for specific timetables and locations of parts on your bike, it’s a great resource. Feel free to leave a comment or ask Dave a question through his Facebook page.
If you have a new machine, make sure not to miss your manufacturer’s first (break-in) oil change. From that point, check your oil before every trip, and change it every season or every 200 hours, whichever comes first.