My ATV Starts Hard When Cold: How to Fix It

When winter comes around, you can quickly find that your ATV starts hard when cold, and you’ll need to know how to fix it. A hard starting engine can be detrimental if you only accept it and continue to run your ATV that way. Seeing as riding through heavy snow on an ATV can be so much fun, you want to prevent your ATV from hard starting in cold weather.

From the battery to the oil, anything can make an ATV hard to start when it’s cold out. If you know what you’re looking for and do the proper preparations, you shouldn’t have any issues with an ATV being hard to start in the cold. This guide is designed to help you find your way through some of the more common issues related to a hard starting ATV, with the hopes that you can get ahead of the problem before the snow starts to fall.

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Low battery

A low or faulty battery can be one of the most common causes of a hard starting ATV in the cold. The starter motor needs enough juice to turn the engine over, and if you don’t have that, you will find your ATV struggling to start.

This is easily fixed by either jumping the battery, or getting a new battery entirely. A fresh battery before the winter is a great preparation for the cold, even if it isn’t dead yet. Measure the volts coming out of your battery and see if it’s about time for a new installation.

Choke adjustments

The choke on your engine works to create the proper air/fuel ratio. With a cold start, the air/fuel ratio is even more important to be the perfect level. Any issues that you have with the ratio in the warmth are exacerbated by the cold, making for a hard start.

On manual ATVs, you may need to engage the choke when starting. This is as simple as locating the choke and engaging it for turning the engine over, then shutting it off after a few seconds of warming up.

Stale Gas

Surprisingly, gas that’s only one month old can start to cause poor performance in your engine. You’ll find your engine harder to start if you filled it up a long time back and don’t have any way of emptying the old fuel.

A lower level of gas in the tank also causes moisture buildup that can make starting the engine harder as it throws off the air/fuel ratio by adding water into the equation. Simply keep your tank full, and use it often.

Oil issues

Oil also has a huge effect on an ATV starting hard in the cold. Before the cold weather comes, simply do regular maintenance on your oil and all other fluids. Opt for a lighter synthetic fluid for the cold months, but stick to the manufacturer’s recommendations.


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