Without proper maintenance your powersport vehicle will turn from trusted friend to a ticked off nuisance. We want to take just a brief look at some things to consider before heading out on the trail.
1) MANUAL- Read the manual for your vehicle before operation.
2) BATTERY- Make sure your battery is fully charged for the electric starter. USE ONLY 1.5 AMP GEL BATTERY ATV/MOTORCYCLE TRICKLE CHARGER. DO NOT USE LEAD BATTERY CHARGERS OR YOU WILL RUIN YOUR BATTERY. ALSO DO NOT LET YOUR BATTERY SIT FOR LONGER THAN TWO WEEKS WITHOUT BEING CHARGED OR DRIVEN BECAUSE A COMPLETELY DRAINED BATTERY MAY NOT BE RECHARGEABLE IF DRAINED COMPLETELY DEAD. DO NOT LEAVE TRICKLE CHARGER WITHOUT AUTOMATIC SHUTOFF ON YOUR ATV BATTERY FOR MORE THAN 2 HOURS OR YOU CAN BURN IT UP. Invest in a Schumaker trickle charger it will save you a lot of headaches in the long run. - Batteries are NEVER covered under warranty by the manufacturer.
3) OIL- Change your oil after running the first tank of fuel through your new vehicle with recommended oil (found in your manual). The oil in your vehicle is the life-blood of the motor and transmission. You should check the oil level before each ride. Simply looking at the fluid on the dipstick can tell you how much oil you’ve got and if it is fit for use or not. With water-cooled engines the oil may turn milky brown, which indicates water in the oil. This is a serious red flag. If you ride with contaminated oil like this you will eventually ruin the entire engine.
4) FUEL – Use mid to high grade gasoline to help keep your carburetor clean. If you are going to store your vehicle for more than a few days, turn the fuel shut off valve to the off position and let the vehicle idle until the carburetor runs out of gas. If you do not have a shut off valve, either purchase one and install onto your fuel line, or unhook the fuel line and drain the gas from the tank and carburetor. Letting gasoline sit in your carburetor can clog the jets, so doing this will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
5) TIRES- Tires are often overlooked due to the fact that many of us, if they hold air we don’t care. Adjust tire air pressure to the correct operating pressure as either listed on the side of the tire or in your owner’s manual. What you may not see is the nail in the sidewall that can break loose and flatten the tire. You could also lose control if this happens at just the wrong time. Be sure to check the tires of your vehicle for wear as well as air pressure. Trying to steer a half flat tire can make your ride day a miserable one.
6) BRAKES- Being able to stop your vehicle is certainly a plus in our book and knowing you have good brakes is confidence inspiring. The brake pads should never be metal to metal and even though some of you may like to see the fireworks coming out of the wheels it’s far from a good thing. Checking pad wear is something many will overlook but it is as easy as getting eye to eye with the caliper and simply looking. The pad needs to be at very minimum 1/8th inch thick for a light day of riding. Neglecting your brake pads can ruin the caliper and many other expensive parts before you know it.
7) CHAIN- Chains need maintenance as well. Oiling a chain is part of the duty of an ATV owner, but making sure it is tight and not stretched out of specification is another. Chains can become stretched, so open your factory service manual and check the limits of your chain and adjust accordingly.
8) WHEEL LUGS- Making sure that the wheel is attached to the machine is a good way to avoid accidents. Some lugs are meant to be installed a certain direction and if installed incorrectly you can have problems. Tapered lugs can work themselves loose do to vibration, so don’t fool yourself into thinking it won’t happen to you. Quit procrastinating and just check it out.
9) NUTS AND BOLTS- Powersports vehicles vibrate which causes nuts and bolts to rattle loose. Check all nuts and bolts on the vehicle BEFORE EVERY RIDE to make sure they are tightened properly. If you find a loose bolt apply BLUE LOCKTIGHT and tighten the bolt back down. (EXHAUST BOLTS ARE CONSIDERED BOLTS TOO AND WITH THE HEAT FROM THE MUFFLER THE LOCKTIGHT DOES NOT HOLD AS WELL SO THESE NEED CHECKED MORE OFTEN.)
10) CARBURETOR CAP- If you have a carbureted vehicle, the cap is located on top of the carburetor. Make sure this cap is tight. Like nuts and bolts, the cap can rattle loose with the vibration of the vehicle and if this cap falls off the vehicle can go full throttle and this is VERY DANGEROUS. Check this part before every ride!
There are other forms of regular maintenance that must be done to power sports products (ATV, UTV, Go Kart, Scooter, Dirt bike, Dune Buggy, and Motorcycle) before every ride that are not listed above. This is a helpful starting point for your regular vehicle maintenance and safety. Please refer to your owner’s manual and www.atvsafety.org for all safety and maintenance instructions. Have fun and be safe!