5 Basic ATV/SxS Maintenance Tips You Should Know

Derrek Sigler
by Derrek Sigler

Your ATV or Side-by-Side (SxS) is not only a significant investment for you, but also a tool you rely on for your work and/or entertainment. The last thing you need is a costly breakdown and repair. The best way to avoid both the cost of a repair and the down time of not having your machine while it awaits the mechanic’s attention is by doing some regular maintenance. By doing some basic ATV or SxS maintenance, you can save yourself a lot of hassle down the trail.

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Oil Top Off/Changes

Any internal combustion engine needs some kind of oil for lubrication of the moving parts. Your ATV or SxS is just like your car or truck in that respect, and staying on top of the oil is very important, and not difficult at all. There are a few tips to make things easier, too. The most important thing is to use the correct oil for your engine. The owner’s manual will let you know exactly what you need to use as far as what weight motor oil to use. It is a good idea to check the motor oil every time you put gas in the tank. This way you won’t find yourself running low.

One additional trick here to make things easy is to use the same oil every time. Various manufacturers market their distinct brands of oil, differing in quality. Take Yamaha, for example, renowned for its exceptional offering known as Yamalube. This specialized lubricant is meticulously crafted, rigorously tested, and expertly formulated by Yamaha's engineers. It goes beyond the ordinary to not only meet but surpass the unique requirements, operational characteristics, and applications of powersports products. When conducting a comprehensive oil change, make sure to adhere to the oil weight and viscosity specifications outlined in the owner's manual. Equally important is the use of the appropriate filter. Undertaking an oil change for an ATV or SxS is a less daunting task compared to a truck, so there's no need to shy away from the do-it-yourself approach.

Grease the Zerks!

Most every ATV or SxS has grease zerks on the pivot points. This is a fitting that lets you run a grease gun to lube a bearings, pivot point, or other joint. A grease gun is a cheap investment in your machine’s longevity and can really help save you from having to replace bearings, which is never a fun task. A quick tip here is to use a high-temperature, waterproof grease and pump it into the zerk until the old grease starts to leak out of the joint. Then wipe off the excess and you’re good to go.

Stabilize the Fuel

Many people think that they can just leave the gas in the fuel tank of their ATV or SxS and they are going to be fine. This is not the case, especially if you are not going to use your machine for a period of time. A fuel stabilizer additive can help keep your gas from breaking down in the tank, and especially in the fuel lines and fuel injector, or carburetor, depending upon what machine you have. This is especially true for fuels with ethanol added.

Ethanol and smaller engines don’t really work that well together. The ethanol has a bad habit of gumming up the engine, especially if it sits for any period of time. An additive helps keep it from causing issues. Non-ethanol fuel, like Rec fuel or some premium fuel types, can still cause issues if it sits, whereas a fuel stabilizer doesn’t cause any issues at all. A good habit to get into to help keep your motor in your ATV or SxS running the best is to add some fuel stabilizer at every fill up.

Tend to the Battery

If your machine has an electric start, it has a battery. Batteries, even the newest lithium-ion ones, work best if they have a constant charge. If you leave your ATV or SxS sitting for any length of time, put a battery tender on the battery to keep it charged. While you’re at it, this is a good time to check the battery for any damage, or to test it to see if it is holding a proper charge. This may not seem like a big deal, but it can be. For starters, you can be left with a machine that doesn’t run - and no one wants that. An improperly charged battery can also lead to possible issues with your electrical system. Keeping your battery at peak performance can save you issues and that is worth the few moments it takes to take care of the battery.

Wash it!

ATVs and SxS vehicles are a lot of fun to get dirty. One of the easiest and most important maintenance tips that you should know is to wash your ride off when you get it dirty. Dirt and mud on the engine can trap heat, causing your machine to run hotter than it should. That is never a good thing. It goes beyond that, too. Mud and dirt can find its way into parts of the engine and other systems in your machine, and this can lead to some serious mechanical issues.

Another reason to wash the machine thoroughly after a dirty ride is rust. Mud that is allowed to sit on the metal parts of your frame traps moisture and if this moisture finds its way to bare metal, well, we all know what can happen there. A good wash job with the right kinds of soaps will help keep your ATV or SxS looking good and operating like it should.

Keeping your ATV or SxS properly lubed, fueled, charged and clean will help you enjoy more time on the trails and less time in the repair shop.

Check out the New Riders Hub for more articles geared towards new off-road enthusiasts.

Derrek Sigler
Derrek Sigler

Derrek's love for all things ATV started when he was a mere 11 years old, growing up on his family farm. His mom gave him and his sister a choice - get a horse, or a three-wheeler. The sister wanted the horse, and Derrek wanted the ATV. Luckily he won out, and was soon burning up the trails on a Yamaha Tri-Moto 200. By the time he was 14, he had saved enough of his own money by working on the farm and in his folks restaurant to buy a new 4-wheeler. That happened the day he and his mom were driving past the dealership and saw 1987 Banshee. His mom had no idea what he was buying, and he never looked back. He's been riding ever since, and been writing professionally for many years. He has ridden all over North America and been behind the controls of just about every machine out there. And yes, he still has his 1987 Yamaha Banshee.

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