January 22, 2010

Getting your ATV ready for the Winter season

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Winter maintenance is important as any other season of the year, what one musts keep in mind is the colder temperatures. The colder climate presents a number of challenges that can be dealt with when properly maintained. The following is a general winter guide for all ATVs, but when it comes to specifics, one should check their owner’s manual or see their dealer.

Periodic Winter Maintenance


 -Washing your ATV in the freezing weather is NOT recommended, washing should be done with warm water and a mild, non-abrasive soap. Most important, allow the ATV to dry, not freeze! Take a much snow off of it before you park it. You can simply use your gloved hands or a car windshield brush.
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-If you are frozen, hot water works. If ATV parts are seized or frozen from snow and ice, do not force these parts. Warning! These parts will break easily when frozen, especially plastic. Be patient and try to free up the movement of these parts with hot water. Even plastic will free up quickly with a little hot water.

- Drain your CVT compartment; don’t allow water to freeze in this section. If you don’t have a drain screw, remove the CVT outer cover and clean. This would be a good time to inspect/ replace your drive belt and clean the clutch surfaces with acetone on a rag.
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-Lubricate all grease fittings using a low temperature or synthetic grease in a warm climate. Most modern ATVs have grease fittings and doing this job is relatively an easy task. When pumping the new grease into the fitting, watch for excess grease too ooze out of the ends of the parts. Pushing out the old grease will remove dirt and moisture.

-ATV tire pressure is always a concern, but did you know that temperature and altitude can also change pressures? If there are any changes, check your tire pressures.
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Fuel Systems

Winter fuel has gas line anti-freeze already added at the pumps, one should be cautious when adding more, because of the harsh chemicals. The best practice for winter riding is keep the fuel tank top up all the time. This prevents condensation and moisture in your fuel.

-EFI systems are awesome in the winter, because of easy starting and peak performance no matter what the temperature is, carbureted machines may need some jetting work in order for proper winter operation. (See your dealer about jetting set ups)

-(1230 -Polaris Carbon Clean fuel treatment)
 Polaris has a product called Carbon Clean fuel treatment. This is a special product for all ATV fuel-injected systems that cleans the fuel system as the engine operates. This product does double duty as it is also a fuel stabilizer and absorbs water. Do NOT use automotive fuel system cleaners, these products are chemically too strong and will damage ATV fuel systems.
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- ATVs have a vented fuel cap; some use a vent tube on the cap to equalize the pressure in the fuel tank, this is a part of gravity feed system. If this tube or hole is frozen it will stop the flow of fuel and can act like your machine just ran out of fuel, even with a full tank!

-Changing the air filter, may not be as important in the winter, because you are operating in a cleaner environment, with no dust or dirt, but one should check the air filter for optimum performance.

Cooling systems

Cooling systems are just as important in the winter; check your ATV’s antifreeze for the proper 50/50 strength or concentration and its proper level. Remember that, anti-freeze should be changed every 2 years. Winter riding can also cause over heating if the radiator becomes blocked with ice and snow. Let’s keep the engine cool by keeping the radiator clear for the proper air flow.

Lubrication systems

-An oil change should also include a new oil filter change as well. Attention to winter oil should include recommended oil viscosities and temperature ranges. For example, the BRP’s 5W- 40 synthetic motor oil, this oil has an operating range from 55 degrees C to -35 degrees C. For your information, the “W” in the oil identification stands for winter.
-Some ATVs require an additional transmission oil change. This is where the transmission is separate from the engine oil and should be dealt with at the same time.
-Check the front and rear differential hosing for the proper oil levels. Using 75W-90 oil for top ups. Please take note that synthetic oils do have better viscosity and temperature ranges when compared to mineral based oils.

Pop Quiz: What does WD 40 stand for?
Answer: Water Displacement on the 40th try
Quick Start for extreme cold weather : If your ATV will not start, here is something to consider. These famous spray bombs work extremely well on any ATV engine in extreme, cold weather. Please use with caution and use sparingly! Most people make the mistake of using too much of the product and this can cause engine damage. Simply spray a light mist over the intake opening of the ATV’s air box or remove the spark plugs and spray the spark plugs themselves, re-install the plugs and attempt to start the ATV’s engine. If there is no Quick Start available, try warming the spark plugs separately and then re-install.

 A Warm Idea for a Cold Ride
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Symtec’s 4 Zone heating system is a handlebar thumb warming system that would be a welcomed addition on any ATV in winter. Snowmobilers have enjoyed the comfort of these standard features for some time now. Further, ATV dealers in the north are telling ATV Trail Rider that they are putting these systems on most ATVs while doing the PDI. (Pre-Delivery Inspection).

The 4 Zone heating system is an aftermarket product, which is top of the line. The system comes complete and is easy to install. This kit includes the hand-warming grips, a warming pad for the throttle and a control centre. The control centre can be mounted on the handlebar or it can be flush mounted. The control centre has 2 buttons: Select and Power Set. Power Set has 6 different levels of heat and the top power is more than enough for the coldest riding days. The Select button cycles through different functions like hand and thumb warmer, but also has Aux 1 and Aux 2. These are for the addition of a heated visor, heated jacket or heated seat or whatever you want to plug into these Aux jacks. Whether you are riding your ATV in fair weather, this accessory will extend your ride and make it more comfortable in the winter.

Photo-8520 Symtec’s Four Zone power control centre: this system is easy to operate even with gloves on.

PowerMadd Hand Guards offer protection and good looks for all seasons. These hand guards have been around for a while and they can dress up any ATV. The different colours available are substantial and can give your ride a custom look. There are 3 optional protection covers that go with this system, winter covers that extend over a larger area, the standard cover (shown) and with the insert removed. The PowerMadd insert section can be removed for improved air flow through the screened section. This option is a good option on those real hot humid days in the summer, while still offering hand protection.
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