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Winterizing Your ATV for Optimal Storage

11/22/2021

Winter is coming faster than you might expect. If you don’t use your ATV during the winter, it’s important to take the proper steps to winterize it for long-term storage (after you get your last few rides of the year in, of course).

Here’s a quick look at the most important steps to take to prepare your ATV for winter storage.

Oil change

Check the oil and filter, and change them both if needed. This will help you prevent potential corrosion in the engine that could happen while the ATV sites idle over the winter. Old oil is more likely to contain acids and combustion byproducts that are not good for the engine and will worsen when left to sit for long periods.

Check fluids

Check the other fluids in the ATV, including coolant and brake fluid. Winterization is a good time to do some of these simple maintenance tasks so you can make sure your fluid levels are good to go come spring and you don’t have to spend as much time getting your ATV ready before you hop back on.

A young man washing his dirty ATV
A man washing dirt off his ATV before storing for winter

Cleaning

Give your ATV a good, thorough wash before you put it away for the winter, and dry it off completely when done with the final rinse. This will remove dirt, debris and bugs that could cause corrosion and eat away at the paint or finish if left to sit there all winter long. You might even consider adding a layer of wax to the chrome or painted parts for extra protection.

Lubrication

If there are any exposed metal parts that could possibly corrode, you can help prevent that corrosion by lubricating them before you put the ATV away for the winter. Focus on the chain, sprocket, brake or clutch cables and lug nuts. Even the exhaust pipe could benefit from a little bit of lubrication.

Fuel system maintenance

Fill up the tank with fresh fuel and add a fuel stabilizer (alcohol-free, if possible). Let the engine run for approximately 10 minutes so it reaches operating temperature and so the stabilizer flows through the entire fuel system. Then top the fuel back up to approximately 7/8 full to prevent condensation from forming inside the tank. This will help you avoid corrosion and other potential problems in the fuel system over the winter.

Maintain the cylinders

If you wish, you can fog the engine to prevent corrosion. Remove the air filter and spray some fogging oil into the air intake while the engine is running so it hits all the cylinders. You can be liberal with the amount of fogging oil you use.

If you have a carburetor or catalytic converter you already drained you don’t need to fog the engine, but if not and if you know your ATV is going to sit for longer than a month, it’s a good idea to perform this step.

Check the battery

ATV batteries can last you for years of riding with proper maintenance, and part of proper maintenance is checking the battery at the end of the season and storing it away properly. Keep it hooked up to a trickle charger or smart charger while you’re keeping your ATV stored away for the winter. Make sure it’s kept in an area with relatively consistent temperatures so it won’t freeze—this will help it stay in good condition throughout the winter so it’s ready to go in spring.

Check the tires

Your tires should be inflated enough to prevent flat spots from developing where the tires touch the ground. You can inflate the tires just past where you like to keep them for riding pressure. If you can use blocks or jack stands to store your ATV, this is an even better idea as it prevents any possibility of the tires flattening out. If you have expensive tires or are particularly invested in your tire quality and maintenance, this is a good option for you to investigate.

ATV covered up for Winter

Cover it up

If possible, you should store your ATV in a shed or a garage with a breathable cover that will keep dust and debris off it all winter long. But if you have to store it outside, make sure you have a waterproof tarp or all-weather ATV cover that you can use to shield your quad against the elements.

Follow these steps, and you’ll be ready to hit the trails again in no time in the spring with an ATV that is in prime condition!

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