In some areas of the country, the winter months prove difficult for riding so ATV owners find it's best to store their 4-wheeler until the riding season resumes.
Storing your ATV long-term does not mean simply leaving it in the confines of your garage or covered in a storage shed. Once the cold settles in and you're done riding, you'll need to prepare your ATV for its winter hibernation. This takes a bit of time, but in the long run prevents corrosion and damage, then once the slumber is over, you'll be ready to ride.
When preparing your ATV for long term storage think a bit in terms of what to do after a day of riding. A thorough cleaning is absolutely a must but a few steps, obvious and otherwise, remain that many owners overlook or tend to forget. The following tips on long term ATV storage should keep your quad in pristine condition and ready to ride after the winter thaw.
As stated earlier completely clean your ATV. Soap it down, rinse and lubricate it (drive chain and anything that takes some grease) then use protectant on your plastic - everything you normally do to get it ready for the next ride day. One difference this time is spraying WD-40 into the exhaust pipe to prevent rust and covering the opening to keep dust and bugs out. Stuff a rag into the opening or, what's better, use a muffler plug. Additionally, it doesn't hurt to wipe down all raw and polished metal surfaces with WD-40 as a precaution.
- Drain the fuel or Add Stabilizer
Gas tends to go bad when you leave it sitting for long periods. If your ATV is stocked with a plastic gas tank it's best to drain all the fuel out - this goes for not only the tank but the fuel lines and carburetor. Machines with metal tanks, depending on where you live, do the opposite. Humid areas can rust an empty metal gas tank so the better option is to fill up and add fuel stabilizer. Be sure to run the engine and get the stabilized fuel throughout the system. We suggest using Maxima Fuel Storage Stabilizer as it comes with a corrosion inhibitor.
- Tend to the Battery
In this case, you'll want a battery tender. An unused battery dies pretty quickly and when left in this state ruins its lifespan. The most convenient method to charging the battery is hooking it to a battery tender which uses very little juice to keep the battery charged all winter long. Don't forget to remove it from your machine first. Most battery tenders on the market utilize a "float" or maintenance mode once the battery is fully charged. It's likely you already have one, but if you're new to ATV riding or recently moved from a year-round riding region then you'll need a battery tender.
- Inflate tires
Tires tend to deflate slowly overtime so you'll want to inflate your tires to the max unless you can be vigilant in checking them weekly. Additionally, you don't want your tires resting on frozen concrete for the next six months. Use blocks to lift the ATV off the ground which also removes the stress from the suspension.
- Fresh oil and filter
Change the oil and filter. Used oil contains dirt and debris which might congeal to the pan and engine parts overtime. After adding fresh oil and a new filter let the engine idle for a few minutes to allow the new oil bathe over moving parts. Then every month or so let the engine turn over once or twice, without starting, so the moving parts stay lubricated.
Additionally, remove the air filter as rodents find foam filters a great place to sleep and/or store food plus it can dry out sitting there all winter long. In its place, pop on an airbox cover.
- Cover your ATV
Cover your ATV but don't use plastic. Use breathable fabric otherwise moisture can't evaporate which creates a rusty environment for your quad not to mention the buildup of mold and mildew.
Overall, it's best to store your ATV in a dry area that doesn't get too cold. If your garage or shed has windows ensure sunlight doesn't reach the tires or the plastic. Follow these tips for long-term ATV storage and when the riding season begins you'll be ready to roll.
Written By: AndrewT