11 Best Ways to Ruin Your ATV

Do these things only if you want to ruin your ATV.


air filter yamaha grizzly

When you don't clean the air filter often enough, debris clogs up not only the filter, but everything connected to it too. This way you enjoy reduced performance, a.k.a. a crappy ride, and the potential for costly engine damage.

To protect your engine and enjoy the most powerful ride, check your air filter as recommended in the owners' manual or as often as every ride.

Also make sure you replace your air filter when the owner's manual recommends or at the first suspicion of damage to the filter.

Find out a step-by-step guide on how to clean your ATV air filter.


atv in mud

It's so tempting to bring that baby home with the evidence of your adventures for everyone in eyeshot and yourself to see and let it sport it. Unfortunately, dirt and mud corrode and clog the external and internal parts of your ATV. This will lead to fewer rides in your machine, potential for dangerous breakdowns, and costly repairs or machine replacement. Clean your ATV after every ride, particularly the most dusty and muddy ones, so you don't ruin your ATV when you're trying to show it off.

ATV waders are the core piece of riding gear for off-road riders
Find out the best look for you


man on atv in the mud

We don't clean our car radiators when we wash the car, so it's not surprising we may not realize our ATV radiator needs regular cleaning. If you don't clean it, it can make your engine overheat and lead to abruptly stopped adventures and costly repairs. It's not hard to clean your radiator every time you clean your ATV, so make it part of your routine to make sure you don't ruin your ATV. To get all the junk out, make sure you see water flow through the radiator without splashing back out. You can use a pressure washer, if you need it.

Watch this helpful video guide on how to clean your ATV properly.


fuel stabiler

Thinking gasoline just is and not giving it much attention causes a wide range of fun-stopping and costly damage to your ATV's internal parts. Fuel breaks down over time and leaves junk behind all along its path inside the ATV both reducing the performance and lifespan of fuel-dependent components.

To avoid that, you should always use fuel stabilizer to extend the life of your fuel. This is particularly useful if you're an occasional ATV rider who isn't putting the ATV away for the winter but doesn't take it out regularly either.

When you do get ready to store it for months, drain the tank completely, or add fuel stabilizer in the tank, making sure you drain the fuel from the line and the carburetor. If you ride your ATV until it has a small amount of fuel during your last ride, you'll have less to drain out.

Learn how bad gasoline causes performance problems.


engine oil check

When you don't change your engine oil, it collects dirt, debris, metal shavings, and water. This junk moves everywhere throughout your ATV the oil does, reducing ATV performance and potentially damaging all those parts.

It's easy to change the oil, so make sure you do it at least once a year, or more often, depending on how frequently you ride. Check it periodically to determine what is needed for your riding frequency and preferred trails to make sure you don't ruin your ATV.

Learn the common signs your ATV oil needs changing.


check bolts in wheel atv

Bolts and nuts are found all over your ATV, holding those crucial parts in place. All the movements and jarring they endure can make them literally fall off, if not just make components not work like they should.

Check the bolts on your ATV at least every few rides, if not every ride, to see that everything's secure. Those parts were bolted on for an important reason, and if they come loose or fall off, it could ruin your ATV.

See what may happen if you ride with loose wheel bolts.


front hub bearings
Image from  www.dirtwheelsmag.com

Not giving your ATV the grease it needs causes moving parts to no longer move, resulting in some costly repairs.

Make sure you grease the pivot bolt, carrier bearings, steering stem bushing, a-arm bushings, and front hub bearings after a weekend of riding or after every wash.

Find out what else you can do to protect your four-wheeler from rusting.

ATV waders are the core piece of riding gear for off-road riders
Find out the best look for you


people on swamp

Yes, ATVs are intended for driving in mud and water, but only so deep. Just like with your car, ATV engines are damaged by water. Water also degrades your gas and engine oil and negatively impacts the parts that use these fluids. This doesn't mean you will ruin your ATV doing some of your favorite things, just that your ATV is designed to drive through water and mud of a certain depth. This depth will be stated in your owners' manual.

If you get water in your engine, gas, or oil, treat your ATV like you would your cellphone. Get the ATV wh ere you can turn it off and let it dry before you try to restart it. This will lessen potential damage to your ATV.

You can tip the ATV onto its back end to drain the water out of the exhaust pipe. Pull the spark plugs out and try to crank it without the spark plugs to blow water out of the cylinder too. Put your ATV back down flat. Check your air filter and if it's wet, try to get it as dry as you can. ATVs with belt-driven transmission have a plug at the bottom of the belt cover that you need to pull and drain water from.

After all that, you can replace the spark plugs and ride your ATV back to the trailer or truck to take home. There you'll need to clean the airbox, change the oil, clean the air filter, and clean the carburetor out to remove excess water that will continue to flow through the internal parts and ruin your ATV.

Discover a step-by-step guide on how to repair your ATV submerged in water or mud.


atv in the snow

This may seem self-explanatory, but it is an obvious and very effective way to ruin your ATV. Be smart on the trail. There's a difference between adventure and something that's not doable. Start with trails and speeds wh ere you are comfortable and skilled and then progress slowly. Be alert to your surroundings. Don't ride tired, without a helmet (for your safety and to prevent exhaustion), or intoxicated.

If you do have an accident and you didn't seem to totally ruin your ATV, make sure you do a thorough check of it back at the garage and before you ride again. There may be less obvious damage that could make the ATV dangerous or prone to further problems.

Want to have a safety net? Just in case. 

Find out why carrying an ATV insurance is a good idea.


atv bright

Storing your ATV outside can ruin your ATV by leaving it vulnerable to theft and damage fr om water, wind, dust, pollen, insects, pests, and neighborhood pets and strays. ATVs are tough, but they aren't indestructible, particularly to recurring threats.

If you don't have a garage or shed, you can:

  • put a heavy-duty ATV cover on it to protect it from the elements;
  • park it next to a building wh ere it will be shielded from some wind damage;
  • buy or build a shed, garage, or carport.

Some store-bought sheds, garages, and carports are more enclosed and sturdy, offering greater protection from the elements and theft, but if you aren't prepared to invest in that, there are less expensive options that will cover most of the bases.

Find out what you can do to secure your ATV from theft.

ATV waders are the core piece of riding gear for off-road riders
Find out the best look for you


powerful winch

ATVs are carefully designed machines with weight balance and perfectly calibrated systems to consider. You can add on to it, but make sure when you do, you follow all the steps so you don't accidentally ruin your ATV. For instance, if you buy a winch, you don't want to blindly buy the most powerful winch without considering its weight. If it's too heavy for your ATV, it could make you more likely to crash your ATV. If you add modifications that will impact the way it runs, you will probably have to adjust other aspects of the ATV to compensate. For instance, if you add a pipe to increase its horsepower, you'll need to rejet the carburetor or get a new fuel map.

Read an Expert View on the TOP aftermarket upgrades for every ATV owner.

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