How to Properly Store Your ATV
Updated: Jan 10
All-Terrain Vehicles (or ATVs for short) are used for recreation, as a tool, or somewhere in between. On our farm it is a tool that we use for 9 months of the year before the deep snow arrives in January. Then it sits in storage until almost April when the snow starts to melt. We use it to prepare and clean our Hipcamp campsites, move firewood, haul feed bags, etc. In the 5 years we’ve owned it, we’ve put 350 miles on it. To say we use it a lot would be an understatement. It’s a very valuable tool that we can’t afford to go down for repairs, so keeping it maintained and prepared for storage properly is a high priority.
We have a 10-step checklist to prepare our ATV for winter storage. We often do need to use it in the winter months, so we don’t completely store it away just in case it may be needed for a task. The below steps take into consideration the option to put an ATV away without the chance of needing it, as sometimes they are more for recreation than a workhorse. We’ll mention everything just in case.
Step 1. Engine Coolant – If your ATV is liquid cooled, you’re most likely using a coolant and water mixture to keep the engine cool during use. Before preparing for winter storage, check that the system is full. If it’s been a few years, you may want to check if the coolant is still in good condition for another year of use before putting the ATV in storage. AMSOIL has a test strip kit that will determine if the coolant will protect from freezing and boiling with a pass / fail rating. If the coolant needs to be replaced, AMSOIL also has two options for fresh coolant. A standard replacement and a low toxicity coolant in case you have animals or children in the area. It’s also completely biodegradable, so disposal doesn’t require special treatment. If you replace the coolant in the system, you can also add a few ounces of AMSOIL Dominator Coolant Boost to keep the system corrosion free while offering better cooling characteristics during the hot summer months.
Step 2. Fuel System – The fuel system is relatively easy to prepare for storage. To start, add in the proper amount of AMSOIL fuel stabilizer for the size of the fuel tank. Usually most ATVs are around 5 gallons or less. Most stabilizer usage charts rate the length of time at 3 months. I typically add in double that amount, guaranteeing six months of protection. I’d rather have a little too much protection than not enough, and a little extra stabilizer doesn’t affect the fuel use later on. Once the stabilizer is in the tank, you can full the rest of the fuel tank full of fresh fuel. A full tank will prevent condensation from forming inside the tank. When it is full, you should run the ATV for at least 5 minutes to circulate the stabilized fuel through the fuel system.
Step 3 . Drain the Carburetor - This step may or may not be needed depending on your ATV. If your ATV uses a carburetor, it’s important to drain the carburetor to prevent fuel contamination from storage. Some will say that stabilized fuel is OK to leave inside the carburetor over the storage period, but I prefer to remove the fuel and the chance it could gum up the needle ad seat inside the float bowl. If your ATV uses fuel injection, this step isn’t necessary. If you’re not sure which you have (carburetor or fuel injection), be sure to consult your owner’s manual before starting this step.
Step 4. Change the Engine Oil and Filter – Your engine should still be warm from step 2 (circulating prepared fuel), so now is the best time to drain the engine oil. Used engine oil contains acids that can slowly damage bearings and cylinder walls over the storage period. The best habit is to store equipment with fresh oil and a new filter. Once the oil is drained and the old filter is removed, you can add fresh AMSOIL ATV / UTV oil and a new EA Filter. AMSOIL does offer both 10W40 and 5W50 viscosity oil, so you can check your owner’s manual before ordering to ensure you buy the correct amount and viscosity for your ATV / UTV. Both offer superior protection for the hard-working months. If you have a Polaris ATV, AMSOIL does offer a complete kit containing the proper amount of oil and a filter. They have three options, so you’ll need to select the proper kit based on the model of your Polaris ATV / UTV.
Step 5. Check the Air Filter – I usually check the air filter while the engine oil is draining out of the bottom of the engine. Most ATV filters are made to be reusable, so it may just need to be blown out with compressed air. If the filter needs replacement after years of use, drop a new AMSOIL air filter in the airbox before putting the ATV in storage.
Step 6. Store the Battery – You will want your ATV / UTV battery fully charged at the beginning of the next riding season You have a couple choices on how to do that, or perhaps where to do that. I prefer to keep the battery in the ATV while in storage, and add a battery tender connected to the terminals to keep it fully charged. Others may remove the battery completely and keep it on a trickle charger in a garage or somewhere power is available. In either case, check that the battery area in the ATV is clear of debris like leaves and dirt. A build-up there could cause a fire or corrosion. I usually use my shop-vac to suck out anything near the battery before putting the ATV in storage.
Step 7 . Over-Inflate the Tires – I usually over-inflate the tires a few pounds to prevent flat spotting. Tires naturally lose air over time, but not usually enough to be concerned with a flat tire next riding session. Bias-ply tires should be deflated to remove any moisture, then re-inflated to the recommended pressure to avoid flat-spotting. If you’re 100% positive you won’t need your ATV during storage, you can set your ATV on a jack stands or blocks to prevent any chance of flat spotting.
Step 8: Clean and Lubricate – Once you are ready for step 8, your maintenance should be complete. The coolant is checked, the fuel stabilized, and the oil and filters have been checked and changed. You’re ready to lubricate any greasing points on the suspension and drivetrain. If you need a powerful and superior grease or a grease gun kit, AMSOIL offers both that will keep your ATV / UTV in perfect condition. AMSOIL does also offer a great metal protectant in a spray can, which makes it easy to keep bare metal from corroding in storage.
Once everything is lubricated, you can then wash your powersports equipment. I spray everything with water, then use a simple carwash detergent to clean the bodywork and plastic pieces. Bugs, brake dust, and mud can cause build up and corrosion, so remove everything as best as possible before storage.
Step 9 . Prevent Infestation – Outside animals, bugs, and spiders like somewhere cozy to nest over the colder winter months. Your ATV / UTV may be a perfect target for them to build a nest to hibernate while the equipment is in storage. Do what you can to prevent animals, bugs, and spiders from building nests. Tape over any potential entry points, such as exhaust pipes and intakes.
Step 10. Wrap it Up with Protection - You’ve worked hard to clean and prepare your equipment for storage. Now it’s time to protect that work. You can use a waterproof tarp or ATV specific cover to protect your equipment in storage. A breathable cover is better to prevent condensation buildup, even if the equipment is stored indoors.
Can I Decrease Maintenance Costs for my ATV?
You might think that the cost of AMSOIL is a little more than you want to spend on your ATV. Would the deal be better if you could drop the prices up to 25% off the listed retail price? You actually can with the AMSOIL Preferred Customer program. It offers up to 25% off retail pricing, free shipping on orders over $100, other bonus offers throughout the year, and it’s just $20 for a 1 year membership. If you want to order ahead of time on products, a 6-month membership is just $10. Your membership can save you some extra money that can be put in other places to make riding even more fun.
Keeping your ATV in top shape is a must if it is going to be frequently used during the year. They are quite the investment, and one of the best ways to protect your investment is keeping the fluids full with premium fluids from AMSOIL. They offer superior protection and are backed by a warranty. You probably won’t get that same guarantee from the bargain brand. If you’re not sure what maintenance strategy will work best for your ATV or UTV, contact us for help. Basin Motorsports is your local AMSOIL dealer, and are here to help keep your vehicles and power equipment running smoothly. We utilize AMSOIL products extensively in our vehicles and equipment for our working 100-acre farm.
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