How to Prepare Your ATV for Long-term Storage

How you store your ATV can determine whether you're ready to ride when the time comes or you need to do repairs before you can play. This post on how to prepare your ATV for long-term storage will help you have more fun and protect your investment.

prepare atv for winter storage.jpg

Clean it

Thoroughly clean your ATV to remove dirt, dust, mud, oil, gas, and other contaminants. If you let that stuff sit on the outside and inside of your ATV, it could do some serious cosmetic and functional damage by the time you get ready to use your ATV again.

Lubricate it

Right after cleaning, grease all those parts that need lubrication to prepare your ATV for long-term storage.

You could also wipe some WD-40 on the ATV's metal surfaces for a little added protection.

Protect the exhaust pipe

Spray some WD-40 in the exhaust pipe to protect it from rust and then stuff the opening with a rag or muffler plug to prevent dust or pests from getting in there.

Tend the fuel

You need to add fuel stabilizer to your fuel or completely drain the fuel, depending on how long you intend to store your ATV and whether you have a plastic or metal gas tank.

Gas loses its efficiency when it sits for long periods. In plastic gas tanks, it can also absorb chemicals out of the plastic.

If you'll be storing your ATV for a month to 4 months, you can probably leave the fuel in and add stabilizer, even with a plastic gas tank. Unless you just feel more secure draining it out.

When going the stabilizer route, make sure to add it while the engine is on so the stabilizer will work through the system and not just sit in the tank.

If you are going to drain your gas tank, drive until it is nearly empty on your last ride to waste less gas. Drain the fuel until it is also out of the carburetor too. You can spray some WD-40 in the gas tank to prevent rust and corrosion while it sits.

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Protect the Battery

Storing an ATV with the battery as is drains the battery. If you leave it for a year, you could come back to a completely dead, unusable battery and have to buy a new one. Even if you won't be storing your ATV that long, you will still want to care for your battery to keep it running well longer.

Disconnect the battery when you store your ATV to lessen charge loss. Storing the battery in a cool, dry place also conserves battery charge.

You can further protect your battery by purchasing a battery tender to regularly give it a little charge.

Protect the tires

atv in garage.jpg

Tires will gradually lose air during a long period of sitting still. Fill the tires a little above riding pressure to prepare your ATV for long-term storage of a few months or more, or to the max before storing for a year or more. Otherwise, you might find cracked tires when you go back to the ATV.

Place the ATV on blocks or jack stands, particularly if you expect the floor to freeze. This is good for the tires and the suspension.

Change the oil and filters

Used oil contains contaminants that can damage your machine during storage. You should change it and the oil filter so they're fresh and ready to sit.

You'll also want to go to the ATV every month or so to turn the engine over once or twice and move the oil through the system. It isn't necessary to start the engine.

The air filter also needs to be removed. Don't put a new one in yet. Pests like to make a home in them. An airbox cover is probably a good idea too to keep anything from getting in the hole.

Lubricate your spark plugs

Take the spark plugs out and place about a tablespoon of oil in their place. Turn the engine over once or twice to coat the cylinder head. Put the spark plugs back in.

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Add Antifreeze

It's always a good idea to ensure your coolant and antifreeze are topped off when you prepare your ATV for long-term storage, but it's particularly important if you're storing it because of cold temperatures.

Cover your ATV

Whether you're storing your ATV outside or inside, you'll want to put an ATV cover on it. This will shield it from sun and fading, dust, moisture, and pests.

Choosing the location

Inside a climate-controlled garage or self-storage is ideal. Inside is next best, protecting it from the elements, theft, and some of the cold. You can prepare your ATV for long-term storage outside if you must and if you take all the advice listed here.

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