ATV Maintenance Tips

DIY Repair for Your All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV)

ATVs and Side By Side’s have never been more popular than they are right now as more and more people spread from the cities to the land in search of nature, adventure, and fun outdoor experiences. Getting the best use and extended life from an ATV often depends on its owner’s care. 

Much of ATV maintenance and repair is routine and readily tackled by any enterprising do-it-yourselfer. If having a well-running machine and saving some money are topics of interest to you, keep reading to learn how much you can do to keep your ATV performing at its best.

ATV: Both Toy and Tool

What to one person is a toy, to another; it is a necessary tool. ATVs provide transportation over nearly any type of terrain, from muddy lake bottoms to narrow woodland paths.

One person loads his ATV from his suburban garage onto his truck or trailer and heads for the wilderness trails, while another climbs on board every day to carry tools or feed to remote pastures and range.

Because of the immense number of attachments now manufactured for ATVs, your humble, off-road “four-wheeler” is customizable for many purposes. 

An ATV can plow your garden patch, transport your gear for ice-fishing, blow away snow, haul tools, carry feed, spray for weeds, as well as get you where you need to go. ATVs are popular vehicles in many different venues, including agriculture, ranching,

industry, recreation, and more. They’re also an efficient way for many disabled individuals to get where they need to go.

ATV Oil Filter Maintenance

Maintenance is Key to Dependability

Regular maintenance helps keep your ATV running dependably and keeps repairs to a minimum. Maintaining and repairing your ATV isn’t as difficult as you might imagine and is easily accomplished by nearly anyone equipped with the right tools and an owner’s manual. 

By routinely maintaining your ATV, you’ll be in the position to catch necessary repairs early, saving the expense of further repairs that might otherwise be necessary. The following areas of maintenance are critical, not only to your ATV’s health and long life but also to avoid unwanted mechanical breakdowns while exploring the backcountry. 

Essential ATV Repair Tools

Before you attempt any at-home ATV repairs, do yourself a favor, and equip yourself with the right tools. Having the correct tools for the job at hand makes it possible for an owner to be his own mechanic for routine repairs.

Acquiring these tools is the first step. Many people purchase their tools at the same time as their ATV.

Before you take a wrench to your ATV, acquire a copy of the ATV owners’ manual if you don’t already have one. If you purchased your ATV without an owners’ manual, numerous online sites allow you to download ATV manuals, sometimes for a small fee.

Each ATV make has its quirks and specific requirements, and it is vital to start work with accurate information.

Many of the tools you’ll need to work on your ATV are commonly found tools; others, you may have to purchase.

Good tools for working on your ATV:

  • An air compressor
  • a set of wrenches
  • a ratchet and socket set
  • adjustable wrench
  • oil filter wrench
  • utility knife
  • metal, four-in-one screwdriver
  • clutch cable luber
  • low-pressure tire gauge
  • tire-plug kit
  • banding tool
  • a pair of channel-lock pliers equipped with a side-cutter
  • a crowbar
  • a metal brush
  • rubber gloves, and assorted rags.
  • Spray lubricant
  • CV joint grease and cable lube are excellent to keep on hand as well.

Besides having the necessary tools and supplies assembled beforehand, it is also vital to purchase and have on hand any needed spare parts. CV joints, for example, frequently require replacing after riding in rough terrain. If it seems like too much of an effort to chase the parts you need all over town, remember it is possible at present to order quality ATV parts for your machine over the Internet.

DIY Opportunities for the ATV Mechanic at Home

Oil Changing

Like automobiles, ATVs need regular oil changes to rid the machine of the dirt and sludge it’s picked up over time and with use. It’s a good rule of thumb to change your ATV’s engine’s oil after every hundred hours of use or as recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer. 

It is a relatively simple procedure that nearly anyone can do at home. You’ll need to purchase the oil and filter as specified by the ATV’s manufacturer and will need an oil-filter wrench and an oil pan, along with a couple of clean rags.

First, start the ATV and idle it for a few minutes to warm up and circulate the oil. Turn it off after approximately ten minutes. Access the oil filter and dipstick by removing the seat and any panels necessary. Before removing the dipstick, take the time to brush off debris that might find its way into the oil.

Locate the drain plug beneath the vehicle. Typically, it is at the lowest point of the undercarriage. Place the oil pan beneath the plug and remove the plug with the correct socket, allowing the dirty oil to flow into the pan. Dispose of the dirty oil properly according to your local code. 

Using the oil-filter wrench, remove the dirty oil filter, and discard. Replace the drain plug first, and then install the new filter. Rub some oil around the O-ring of the new filter, carefully screw it in, and be careful not to let it cross thread. Tighten, first by hand and then with a wrench but do not overtighten, or it won’t be easy to get off the next time.

Replace the dipstick, add the correct amount of new oil, and then start the ATV and let it run for a minute so the oil might distribute throughout the engine. Check the oil level to ensure it is correct, replace your panels and seat, and you are through. 


The two most common tasks regarding ATV tires are keeping them inflated correctly and plugging holes as they occur. Both of these are easy-to-do jobs for any ATV owner and are easier to do at home than to truck the vehicle to a repair shop. 

A small home air-compressor is all that is necessary to keep your tires at the correct pressure, as recommended by the ATV manufacturer. Do not use a tire gauge for an automobile when checking ATV tire pressure. Your ATV requires a low-pressure tire gauge. Overinflated tires can make your ATV unsafe.

It takes nothing more than a bit of construction trash to puncture a tire and nothing more than a tire-plug kit to repair it. First, locate the puncture, using a container of soapy water to help find it if necessary. Next, roughen the spot to be plugged by reaming it well with the kit’s reaming tool. 

The plug will adhere better to a rough surface. Make it large enough to accept the plug. Use the supplied tool installer to push the plug into the hole, first coating it with the provided adhesive. If the plug extends beyond half an inch, trim it as needed. A larger hole may require two plugs.  


Air Filter Maintenance

Neglecting to clean or replace the air filter is one of the more common mistakes people make with their ATVs. Fortunately, it is one of the more straightforward tasks you can perform to keep your ATV in good working order. Find your air filter underneath the seat, with a latch towards the rear.

Open this compartment, being careful not to let any dust or debris get into the area. Carefully remove the existing filter, and wash it gently in dish soap until it is as clean as possible. Let dry and gently replace. A disposable filter is even simpler. Be careful not to tear the gasket as you return the air filter. 

Nuts and Bolts

Nuts and bolts are what hold your ATV together, and it is a good idea to make checking (and tightening, if need be) part of the routine maintenance you perform for your vehicle.

In addition to checking the axle nut, making sure it’s tight and secured with a cotter pin, check the wheel nuts and fasteners for parts like running boards and handlebars.

Always check new vehicle fasteners thoroughly before your first ride as manufacturers deliberately ship some models with the nuts and bolts loosened. Dealers occasionally overlook their tightening when prepping the vehicle for sale. 

CV Joint Boots

If you pay enough attention to your ATV’s boots covering the CV joints, you’ll likely never need to replace the joint, as the grease in the boot is what protects it. It only takes a moment to feel the bellows surrounding the joint. If they’re dry, they’re good. If they’re greasy, they’re leaking and need replacing.

Do not drive the vehicle after discovering the breached seal. Any dirt or trash that enters is potentially damaging to the joint. You’ll need to jack up the ATV to pop the axle out with a crowbar.

Remove the old boot from the CV housing, clean the joint if necessary, and liberally pack it with grease. Finally, attach the new boot to the housing and replace the axle.

Cable Lubing

Finally, it is common for an ATV’s cables to require replacing. However, something not everyone knows is that cables regularly lubricated cables often last indefinitely. Lubricate your cables twice annually for top performance.

A cable luber is the tool needed that forces the lubricant into the cable. It is worth the investment of both time and money.

Remember, regular maintenance helps keep your ATV running dependably and keeps repairs to a minimum. Home repairs are not incredibly complex, and it is easy to learn them. Maintaining and repairing an ATV is easily accomplished by nearly anyone equipped with the right tools and an owner’s manual. 

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