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Simple Steps to Winterize Your ATV or Side-by-side UTV

Post Hunting Season Winter Maintenance Tips

Winterization is an annual ritual if you own a boat. Preventing damage to vital parts and accessories from the harsh winter climate is a benefit of winterizing your boat. So is the assurance of knowing everything is in tip top shape, so when the first warm day of spring arrives the drive to the ramp ends there, instead of making a U-turn back to the dealership.

When hunting season ends, and before you put your off-road vehicle to bed for the winter, you can get the same benefits by performing routine maintenance and taking steps to protect the vehicle during the chill. Come spring, it’ll be ready to roll after you perform some TLC tasks.

Some of these tasks you can do yourself; others might be best left to the pros at the dealership. Get everything you need for the DIY job, and find expert advice and service at your nearest TRACKER OFF ROAD dealer. Find a dealer here.



CLEAN IT

Use a high-pressure water sprayer to remove all mud and dirt. Don’t just clean the obvious places. Give it a deep clean and remove machine-eroding caked dirt and mud from the undercarriage. Roll the vehicle halfway up onto the ramps used to load it on your truck and hit those hidden spots. Go easy on the pressure around vital parts like the engine. Never allow water to get into any part of the engine, air intake or exhaust. You can use a shop rag to clean around areas where fluids will be refilled. Clean around the dipstick, external oil filter or refill location to prevent trail grit from getting into the engine.



DRAIN IT

Moisture accumulating in a boat’s fuel tank is a bad deal, and the same applies to your off-road vehicle. Gasoline breaks down over time and it can clog fuel lines, carburetors and cause costly maintenance if not addressed. After you return from the deer processor, drain the tank completely by running the engine until it runs out of fuel, and do it outdoors. Run the fuel out of the fuel line and carburetor if you choose to use a fuel additive. Do it by turning the fuel selector to “off” and allow the engine to run until it stops. This will expend the fuel in the line and float bowels of the carburetor.



CHANGE IT

With the engine still warm, change the oil using the grade and type recommended by the manufacturer. Avoid overtightening when installing the new O-Ring. It only needs to be snug. For some vehicles, specific torque specs can be found in the service manual. Overtighten this plug and you will be opening your wallet for dealership repairs. The external oil filter can also be overtightened, so avoid doing that for the same reason. Drain the oil into a container and take it to a certified collection facility. Some auto parts stores accept used oil.



LUBRICATE IT

Another habit-forming task you should follow is lubricating certain components that are prone to frequent movement. Apply light oil to the throttle lever point, brake lever point and auxiliary brake pedal pivot. Also oil the upper steering post bushing and plungers of the shock absorbers.



FILL IT

Fill the cooling system to the bottom line of the stand pipe in the radiator neck. Use properly mixed coolant as recommended by the manufacturer.



DISCONNECT IT

Disconnect the battery cables and then remove the battery. Clean battery posts and cables and store the battery indoors in a clean, dry area.



REPLACE THE AIR FILTER

While you’re at it, replace the air filter and the air filter housing. A dirty housing can contaminate a clean filter, so don’t do one without the other. You might scoff at doing this now, but conditioning yourself to make it a routine habitat is a good idea. Of all the vital engine parts, the air filter works overtime to keep dirt particles out of the engine. Follow the instructions in your vehicle’s service manual.



TIGHTEN UP

Tighten all nuts, bolts, cap screws and especially these specific parts. The pivot bolt holds the swingarm to the frame, so given that you can understand why keeping it tight is important. A loose pivot bolt can wear out the frame and bearings. Tighten the axle nut, wheel hubs and skid plate bolts, if your vehicle has one.



PUT IT TO BED

With the tasks complete, store the vehicle indoors. Plug the exhaust opening with a rag. Do not store the vehicle outside or use a plastic cover, which is an invitation for moisture to accumulate throughout the vehicle.


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