It’s almost time to head south and spend winter riding through southern Texas and New Mexico. If that isn’t an option for you, proper winter prep can keep your ATV in great condition. Just this little bit of work now will make next spring’s pre-season maintenance a breeze. Think of this as the big tune-up, assemble your parts, and go down the list.
Gasoline, left over several months, will change its chemical composition. This is due to elements in the gas evaporating, making your machine run poorly, a common sign of “bad gas.” Fortunately, this is easily corrected with a couple dollars’ worth of fuel stabilizer, and filling the gas tank. Let the engine run for a few minutes, then turn off the fuel at the petcock, and run the engine until the lines are empty.
Used oil is a nasty thing, so get it out of your ride. Change the oil when the engine is warm, and do all the filters at the same time while you’re down there. Check the drain bolt if it’s magnetic for any metal shavings indicating wear. Send the oil out to a lab for analysis if you find anything unusual.
Charge the battery, and remove from your ATV. Store the battery indoors if you can. A trickle charger will keep this expensive item alive over the winter, but another method is to check the voltage every month or so and charge as needed. Do not store the battery on a cement floor. Now is a good time to look over the other electrical bits, and change out any bulbs or wiring that need replacing.
Check the tires for any cracks or punctures. Punctures can be fixed with a repair kit or that green tire goo. Inflate the tires to slightly higher than your normal riding pressure. Move the ATV about every month to prevent flat spots on the tires, or better yet, sit your ride on jack stands for the winter.
A cover on an indoor ATV is really only there to keep out dust and perhaps rodents. The real test for an ATV cover is the outdoors. If you do not have the option of a garage, shed, or trailer, buy the best cover you can afford. You will want waterproof, with a cinch cord to tighten it down. Try and park on cement, but if that is not available, put a tarp on the ground so moisture will be less likely to find its way inside.
Following this guide will take an hour or two, and cost about $200 if you include the cover. Consider that an investment, as a properly taken care of ATV will look and ride better than one that is ignored.