Now that fall is underway and winter is approaching, it is time to begin to prepare your ATV for winter storage. This is an opportunity to complete some regular maintenance and upkeep while you get your ATV ready for use next spring. Here are some tips to help you winterize your ATV for storage.
Wash the Exterior
After a season of driving your ATV over trails and rugged terrain, it can accumulate a great deal of dirt, bugs, and debris, even if you wash it regularly. Bug guts and other debris left on your ATV over the winter can cause its surfaces to corrode.
Use a power washer with a universal red-colored, zero-degree nozzle tip to clean any residue from the metal parts of your ATV. Be careful not to spray your ATV's fabric or leather-covered seating, as the stream from this red-colored tip is strong enough to damage them. You can also use a less-powerful yellow-colored, 15-degree nozzle tip, which can clean off most surfaces, but won't damage any softer surfaces of your ATV. Completely dry your ATV's body and apply wax and chrome polish to treat painted and chromed surfaces, respectively.
Complete an Oil Change
Leaving old, used oil inside your ATV during the winter is never a good idea. Old oil can contains acids and other harmful ingredients left over from engine combustion that can corrode inside your oil pan and around its internal connecting line seals.
Drain out the old oil from the oil reservoir and replace it with new oil, then change out and replace its oil filter. This will also prepare your ATV for use next spring.
Treat the Fuel Tank
Gasoline will degrade over time, so if it is left sitting inside your ATV's fuel tank over the winter, it will go bad and cause damage. The volatile components in the fuel which normally help it combust easily inside your ATV's engine will actually evaporate over time to make the fuel less effective in the engine. If you start your ATV's engine with the degraded gasoline still inside, it may start, but it won't run well at all. As fuel ages, its alkenes will oxidize and release harmful components, such as gums and varnishes, into your tank and fuel lines. These components can potentially cause damage to your ATV's engine and carburetor.
To prevent fuel degradation and internal damage, add a fuel stabilizer to the remaining fuel, then top off the tank with fresh fuel. Filling the tank full of fuel for winter storage prevents condensation from building up inside the tank and causing corrosion damage on the interior of the tank that is exposed to the air. Then, start your ATV's engine and let it idle for several minutes, or drive it around the block one last time to allow the fuel and stabilizer to circulate through the entire system.
Protect the ATV
The last step before you place your ATV into its winter storage spot is to protect the unit as much as possible from winter's elements and damage-causing pests. Cover the entire ATV with a tarp or other waterproof covering if you are storing it outside. If you are storing your ATV inside a shed or garage, cover it with a breathable covering to allow moisture to escape from around the unit and prevent rusting.
To keep pests out of your ATV and from making a home out of the ATV's internal parts, seal off all openings with tape. Place tape over exhaust openings, air intakes, and any openings around the airbox.
Use these tips to help you during your winterizing process to prepare your ATV for its winter storage. Click here for additional reading.