How Often Should I Start My ATV During Hibernation

It’s a very common question, “How often should I start my ATV during hibernation?” The truth is that you shouldn’t idle ATVs in winter or any long term storage. It’s not necessary, and it’s not even good for your ATV. This post will clear up any confusion about starting ATVs during hibernation.

starting atv in winter.jpg

Why You Don’t Have to Start Your ATV During Hibernation

The only real benefit you’ll get from starting your ATV when you aren’t riding it is that it’ll maintain the charge in the battery. There are better ways to do that.

There are several downsides to starting ATVs for short periods. If you just idle ATVs during hibernation, you won’t get the engine hot enough to get rid of the moisture that will have built up inside it.

Similarly, getting your exhaust warm but not hot enough to burn anything off will cause condensation to form on it and lead to corrosion.

If your engine is cold, which it probably will be during winter hibernation, you’ll have to use the choke. If you do this, you can flood the cylinder with gas, which will damage the cylinder’s oil coating.

You could start it and ride it around every week. That will maintain your battery charge and keep the brakes, cables, and internals in good working order. But you probably don’t want to do that or you wouldn’t be talking about hibernation.

You can safely hibernate your vehicle by properly winterizing it.

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How to Prepare ATVs for Hibernation

We’ll begin with the three most important things to do. If you can’t do anything else, make sure you do those. The others will further protect your ATV.

Choose Your Storage

The first and most important thing to consider is where you’ll be storing your ATV.

If you must store it outdoors, try to provide a shelter and cover it with a breathable cover. It has to be a breathable cover. If you put a plastic cloth over it, condensation will form underneath it and be trapped in there to damage your ATV.

Ideally, you can put it in a shed or garage. A heated garage is the best. This is important because you have to keep moisture, cold, wind, pests, children, and hazards away from your ATV.

Tend the Gas

Gas only stays good for 1 month, and that’s if you store it correctly. Pure gasoline without anything else blended into it can last 3 months, but that’s hard to find, and you’ll probably be storing your ATV longer than 3 months anyway. Slightly old gas will underperform. Old gas will break down and leave damaging substances behind in your fuel system that are not fun to clean out.

So, you need gas stabilizer. Just buy yourself a bottle and mix it into your gas following the ratio described in the directions. Then run your engine a little to move the mixture through your fuel system. The bottle should tell you how long to expect the stabilizer to keep your gas fresh.

You’ll also want to make sure your gas tank is full. If any space is left, that space will allow moisture build up that can damage metal gas tanks and degrade gas in any tank.

Charge the Battery

You do need to charge your battery, but the ideal way to do this is with a smart charger. You just attach it to the battery while it monitors the battery’s charge and only charges it when and as much as needed. It’s inexpensive and worry-free.

Lift Your ATV

Raise the ATV on axle stands during hibernation. This is a low cost and easy fix that will protect the life of your tires and your suspension. You want it to be high enough that the tires aren’t touching or bearing into the floor.

Additional Checklist

  • Protect your ATV by doing most or all of the following:

  • Cleaning it and giving it time to fully dry to prevent corrosion and damage

  • Leaving the engine in top dead center to close its valves

  • Removing the air filter to eliminate a potential rodent attracter

  • Stuffing the air intake box and tailpipe to prevent rodents from taking up residence

  • Changing the oil because it’s better that your ATV sit with new oil than old

  • Lube the cylinder to protect it while it sits

  • Teflon coating the frame and the electrics to protect them from moisture

  • Cleaning, gapping, and refitting the spark plugs so you’re ready for a great start come spring

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