Your Complete Guide to Changing Your ATV Oil

September 18th, 2019 by

Didn’t your mother ever tell you never to neglect your toys? Or something along those lines.

Regardless of what she said, what she meant was to take care of your things. And by things, we mean your ATV. Changing your ATV oil should be the top priority on your maintenance list.

Even if you’re not the mechanical type, rest assured that an oil change is just as easy as riding the trails with your favourite toy. And we’re here to help you with the process.

Read on to learn how to change your ATV oil.

ATV Oil Change Prep Guide

Changing your ATV oil involves a few things: the knowledge of how to check your oil, knowing when to change it, and having all the right tools and supplies. First things first, you’re going to need a checklist of the thing you need:

  • An ATV oil filter (See your local Powersports dealer for options and availability)
  • ATV oil
  • A drain pan
  • A ratchet and socket set
  • An oil filter wrench
  • A screwdriver
  • An oil funnel
  • rags and gloves

Before changing your oil, you’ll want to clean up any dirt and debris from underneath. You want to be sure that the hole in the skid plate where the oil will drain through isn’t clogged. (Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with a huge mess).

Depending on the ATV model you have, access to the drain plug and filter will vary. Check your owner’s manual first to see if—and which–panels you’ll have to remove to get to the screen. Most models require that you move the seat first.

If you don’t already know how often your oil and filter should be changed, the rule of thumb is at least once per year. Another rule of thumb is every 100 hours of use. Of course, it really comes down to what your owner’s manual says.

If you use your ATV often, it’s a good idea to pull out the dipstick after each trail riding session to check out the colour of the oil. If the colour is amber or a dark brown, you’re good to go. If it’s very dark brown or black, then it’s time for a change.

You probably already know this, but it just in case—your oil filter gets changed along with the oil! You should also consult your manual for the best oil and filter for your model.


Draining the Oil and Removing the Oil Filter

To perform your oil and filter change, locate your drain plug and oil filter. The location of your oil tank and the screen will vary by model, but the process is more or less the same.

Here’s what to do:

1. Run the engine for about 10 minutes. This will help the oil flow come time to drain.

2. Remove the seat to get to your ATV oil filter. There should be a latch on the rear end of the seat. Pull the latch to pull the seatback. (This will disengage the other tabs at the front of the seat).

3. Remove the panel according to your owner’s manual. It’ll be either on the left or right side of the seat. This doesn’t require any tools since it’s a snap on/snap off process.

4. Remove the cover which is directly below the panel. You’ll have to remove the bolts first (there are about seven).

5. Remove the dipstick to equalize the pressure inside of the engine and to allow quick drainage.

6. Locate the drain plug and unscrew it with a socket—but only to the point where you can finish unscrewing it by hand. You have to do this swiftly; otherwise, you’ll end up covered in old oil. Let the oil drain into the pan.

7. Once the oil is drained, you can go ahead and unscrew the oil filter. You’ll need Your oil filter wrench for this. (Removing the oil filter with a screwdriver helps if the wrench can’t loosen it up!)

Once all of this is done, you can move onto adding the new oil and filter.


Adding the New Oil and Oil Filter

Now you can put the drain plug back in place—but first, make sure to wipe it clean with a rag.

Then you can follow these steps:

1. Tighten the drain plug (but don’t overtighten!)

2. Use some of the new oil to lubricate the o-ring on the new filter. Screw the filter into place by hand, but finish tightening it with your wrench.

3. Using the funnel, add about 2 quarts of oil. (Again, check your manual, so you know exactly how much your ATV takes.)

4. Run the engine for about 5-10 minutes. Check the dipstick for the oil level and add more as needed.

5. Reassemble the cover, panel, and seat. And Voilá—you’re done!

Don’t forget to recycle that old oil. Your nearest auto shop or gas station will most likely take it for you. (Although you may want to check if there’s an oil disposal fee first)


It’s That Simple

Keeping an eye on and changing your ATV oil is essential to the longevity of the life of your favourite trail buddy. It will also keep it working right, so you don’t run into any problems out in the dirt.

If you’re looking for parts, a new toy, or have any questions, feel free to reach out to us. We offer financing, a service center, and more.

Posted in ATV, How-To, Parts, Polaris, Yamaha