Five Quick Cleaning Tips for Your ATV or UTV

Rick Sosebee
by Rick Sosebee
ATV Cleaning Tips

It has come to my attention that there is a difference between what I consider clean and what most people who take their ATV or UTV to a dealer to sell thinks is clean.

After walking across the parking lot to see what was for sale in the “gently used” section of the local dealer, I noticed that every one of them needed a real cleaning. It dawned on me that some people just may just not know how.

Contrary to popular belief, the act of cleaning an ATV or UTV is not just a water hose and bar of soap. Keeping this in mind I have come up with a few tips to get your off-road companion in shape that might just help you impress yourself or your buddies.

These five tips are more of a guide to learning the art of taking better care of your machine. I have prepped race machines for years and one thing I always pride myself in is a clean look on the starting line. Even if my machine isn’t the fastest, you wouldn’t know it by its looks!

A good cleaning will also help if you should ever take your machine to that dreaded “used lot” at the local dealer and try to sell it. People want to know that what they could potentially buy has been cared for. So take your time and focus on the details. Before long you will get a routine and feel a lot better about your four-wheeler.

Super Clean ATV Cleaner

Grease and trail sludge on your machine not only lets you know it has a leak somewhere, but it shows your buddies you really didn’t care about the machine at all. Take the time to buy a gallon of good cleaner – we like Super Clean. This can be purchased at many auto parts stores as well as Wal-Mart. Add this to a pump sprayer with appropriate mixture of water and spray it on all metal surfaces as well as the engine. Let the chemical sit a minute or two and rinse. This process can be repeated until there is no trace of grease or oil to be found. Super Clean not only works as a great degreaser, but is known to also brighten aluminum. Take your time and get it clean.

Clean ATV Plastics

Cleaning your plastics is a little more of a delicate process. Be sure to rinse all mud, sand or grit from the plastics before hand washing. Use a good dish liquid or car soap in warm water to get the best results. It’s a fact that the warm water helps loosen greasy film and dirt or mud stains. Rinse the washcloth many times to get any potential debris out of the cloth. You do not want to scratch the plastics. While you may be tempted to just spray the degreaser all over the plastics like you do with the metal components, it could dull some plastic finishes and you want to avoid this at all costs!

Clean ATV Engine
Engine Details

So we have all the grease off of the engine bay and engine, but it still has a dull brownish stained look and you feel like it will just not come off. Not so fast, there is a product you can find at many auto parts stores called Mag Wheel Cleaner. Now this is important so listen close – this stuff is an etching chemical that is bad for your skin and eyes. Wear gloves and at least clear safety glasses before getting started.

Spray the Mag Wheel Cleaner on any aluminum engine parts or differentials, allow it to soak in for a minute or two and rinse for an incredible bright aluminum look that is sure to impress. Do not, however, spray it on paint. As the name suggests, it can also be used to clean wheels, but may leave the finish dull so test a small area before using it on aluminum wheels. You will notice the difference as the machine dries. This works amazingly on aluminum nerf bars and bumpers.

Clean ATV Tires

Cleaning the tires can be a task and this is where a good tire cleaner like Bleach White or Super Clean can get the job done without you ever scrubbing for even a second. Simply spray on and rinse off. If the tires have stubborn mud or dirt stains, just repeat the process. You may have to scrub a little if you haven’t cleaned your tires in ages.

In our experience, tire dressing sprays or silicone attracts dust and effects some rubber, so stay clear of that stuff. Besides, it looks horrible if too much is applied.

One final tip – a simple putty knife or hard plastic bristled brush scraped across the white letters (if you have them) can transform them back to like-new condition.

Degreased ATV
Rubber Hoses

To clean your rubber hoses, you’ll want to grab the degreaser again, along with a small rag of some kind. Apply the degreaser with a pump sprayer and gently rub the hoses to get the built up mud stains off your radiator hoses and oil lines. This will bring the small details into focus on the engine compartment and tie all the clean stuff together.

Rick Sosebee
Rick Sosebee

Whether he is in Mexico covering the Baja 1000, building ATVs for local racers, or out enjoying the trails, Rick’s passion shows in his stories. Learning to wrench his own machines from his grandfather, Rick also has an undying appreciation for the mechanics of off-road vehicles. Do not let the dirt and mud fool you, though, as Rick also has a deep love for street cars.

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