Because there are so many different types of ATVs, there are a number of different maintenance routines that can be followed. All of the manufacturers will have their own maintenance schedule that they suggest should be followed. Also, there are different levels of maintenance that owners actual feel comfortable doing themselves.
Below is a list of some basic maintenance that anyone can perform on there ATV to keep it in good operating condition for longer. It will also keep you safer if you do some basic checks on your ATV at regular intervals.
First of all, check your tire pressure before you ride. If your tire pressure is not set at the correct level, you could have steering or handling problems with your ATV. You can find the recommended air pressure for your tires on the sides of your tires. Correction - you can find it under all the mud on the side of your tires. Make sure all your tires are inflated to the correct level before you ride.
You should also check your engine oil level regularly. You can significantly damage your engine, resulting in a costly repair, by running at a low oil level. As with your tire pressure, check your oil every time you ride. Always change your engine oil and filter at least once a year.
Check your air filter at least once a month. Despite what most car service centers would have you believe, air filters actually operate more efficiently when they are slightly dirty. However, complete caked with dust from you last ten outings, will not help their efficiency. Check your air filter and rinse and wash it, if necessary. Replace the air filter according to your ATV manufacturers guidelines.
Check your differential and rear gear case oil for contamination. Water can condense when these hot components come into contact with cold water or mud. Check if the oil is milky. If it is, drain it and refill it.
Boots & Bellows
Always check boots and bellows for damage and tears. They are there to protect the more expensive components that are underneath them. If the boot or bellow is torn, the underlying component can be exposed. If left unfixed, a higher cost component failure could be the result of a relatively inexpensive, but damaged, bellow.
The next thing to consider is general cleanliness of your ATV. I know you are proud of all of the mud that you have caked onto your ATV. However, you should clean off the layers of dirt and debris when you are done. Pay specific attention to the radiator, engine head, and brake system. For example, if the radiator is covered in mud, it may not provide the cooling necessary for your engine to work properly. The same goes with your brakes.
Nuts & Hoses
Check that your wheel nuts are tightened to the correct torque level. An over-tightened joint can be just as dangerous as a loose joint. Also if you remove a wheel nut, check the stud and nut for damage before re-tightening the nut.
All hoses on your ATV should be checked periodically for any obvious damage. Pay particular attention to fuel and brake lines. Also check that the cables on your ATV are not trapped or damaged.
Once a year, take your battery to a local garage and have it load tested. The test will tell you the approximate life span of your battery. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of nowhere and stranded with a dead battery.
Levers, Lights, Electrics
Check you brake, clutch, and gas levers to make sure they are fully releasing and depressing. Also, make sure that your lights are working before you go out on a ride. Often electrical connectors can become dislodged. If you headlights or brake lights are not working, you could be putting yourself and others in unnecessary danger.
Finally, your fluid levels should be check frequently. Coolant levels should be checked weekly if you have a liquid-cooled system on your ATV. You will not need to remove the reservoir cap unless you need to add anti-freeze solution. If you do need to remove the cap, make sure you do not do this while the engine is hot.
The above list of items is not difficult to check on your ATV, but they do take time and discipline. However, there is a reward. A little upfront maintenance could save you a lot of money in the future. Many of these small items have the potential to turn into very expensive component failures of left unattended. So, take the time to check your ATV before you go riding. It will not only save you money, but it will be safer too.