Avoiding Frozen Quads: How to Winterize Your ATV
Avoiding Frozen Quads: How to Winterize Your ATV
Depending on where you live, winterizing your ATV can mean two different things. If you want to ride your ATV all year long and enjoy playing in the snow, then making your ATV performance better during the cold, frigid months means one thing.
If you’d rather store your ATV away for the winter and stay cozy by the fire, then winterizing means another thing.
Do you like to plow through the snow on your ATV? Or, do you prefer storing it for the winter?
Whether you want to ride or store your ATV, this guide explains how to prepare quads for riding in the cold or storing them to prevent frozen quads.
Winterizing Your ATV for Storage and Preventing Frozen Quads
So, you’ve decided to store your quad for the winter. The thing to remember is this doesn’t simply mean turning off the key and parking your ATV in the garage. Follow these tips for winterizing your ATV:
Find a Nice Location
Whether you have a new ATV or an older one, it’s best to find a nice location to store it. Make sure the area is free of excessive dust and debris.
Keep Openings Closed
It’s also a good idea to cap your exhaust pipe to prevent mice from nesting in your silencer.
Also, keep the airbox lid in place and make sure it’s tight. This will also prevent mice and chipmunks from using it as their winter home.
A Little ATV Maintenance
Once you’ve chosen a storage space, it’s time to thoroughly clean your quad. Use a non-corrosive ATV cleaner. Next, dry it completely.
You do this by tilting your quad on end to remove any pooled water that could rust your quad while it’s in storage. Also, remove any skid plates, CVT boot guards and any other parts you might have added. If you leave them on, they could have hiding spots for water and dirt.
Inspect for Paint Chips
Once you’re done washing your quad, inspect it for paint chips, scratches and any other areas where rust could form. You can lightly spray your quad’s metal components with WD-40 to prevent rust and parts breakdown.
As far as any plastic and racks go, treat them with plastic cleaners to keep them from cracking and drying out. Also, rubber tires can crack in extremely cold weather. So, applying a tire preservative is a good idea.
Also, depending on the type of wheels you have on your quad, you should apply a wheel cleaner. Wheel cleaners work great for steel, but if you have aluminum wheels, you need to polish them to keep their shine.
Inflate the Tires
Fill your tires to the proper max PSI because the air inside condenses when your ATV is in storage. If you can, keep your quad tires off the cold ground because ice and moisture can build up under them. You can lift your quad off the ground by placing it on 2X4s or an ATV stand. Either one will work.
Before you put your ATV on the stand, you need to do a few more things to winterize it.
Drain the Fluids
Drain all the operating fluids in your ATV, but don’t empty the fuel tank yet. First, drain the engine and transmission oil. You have the option of changing the brake fluid while you’re winterizing, or you can wait until your pre-ride inspection in the spring.
Also, flush the cooling system and add new antifreeze-coolant.
Add new oil to the level recommended by your ATV manufacturer. Also, depending on how long your winter is, you can drain the whole fuel tank and carbs or add a fuel stabilizer to the tank.
The easiest thing to do is fill your tank and add a stabilizer to it. If you do this, run your engine for a few minutes to mix the gas and preservative. Turn of your quad and shut off the petcock.
Remove the Battery
Take out your quad’s battery and charge it fully. Make sure you clean off the terminals according to your owner’s manual. Also, check the electrolyte levels.
Depending on where you store the battery and at what temperature, you may need to recharge it. If you store it below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, charge it every month. If it’s warmer than that, charge it every two weeks.
Cover the Quad
You’re almost done winterizing your ATV. The final step is to cover your quad to prevent dust and debris from gathering on it. This also keeps it out of the sun if you store it near a window. Your ATV will be all ready to ride when spring arrives.
Winterizing ATV for Riding
If you’re one of the hardy ATV riders who want to ride your quad all year long, these tips should keep you going in the cold. The way to make your quad more suitable for winter riding is to add accessories to it.
Here are a few tips for keeping warmer and while riding your quad in the winter:
- Install heated handgrips and gauntlets
- Add ATV cabs and windshields
- Change to large diameter tires for improved traction and biting edges
- Install a track kit for riding on top of snow similar to a snowmobile
- Change to cold-resistant engine oil
- Add fuel antifreeze or fuel drier isopropyl additive
You should be aware that even if you take these winterizing precautions, some ATV carburetors are susceptible to freezing. If you’re thinking of buying a new ATV, consider one with larger carb heaters to improve cold-weather starting. Carb heaters prevent ice from forming, which disrupts the carb’s operation.
Always check for ice dams that can freeze around your radiator and brakes. This can happen if you’ve been riding through snow and stop for a while. When you go back to ride, the snow can freeze the parts on your quad. This can also stop your brakes from working.
Another thing to keep in mind is that corrosive salt and ice-melt can damage the surface of your ATV. When you’re done riding, it’s a good idea to wash off your ATV and spray it with WD-40. Also, if you’re trailering it, put on a cover to keep road salt from spraying on it. Even a brand new quad will rust when eaten by road salt.
Ready to Ride
Now that you know how to winterize your ATV and prevent frozen quads, you’ll be ready to ride in the spring or all year long. By following these ATV maintenance tips, you’ll prevent winter damage to your quad.
Contact us with any questions you have about winterizing your ATV. We can help you with all your ATV service and parts.