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9 Steps for Changing the Oil in Your Off-Road Vehicle

ATV Oil Change

Changing the motor oil in your ATV or UTV is essential for off-road vehicle maintenance and ensuring your vehicle runs properly. By keeping up with scheduled oil changes, you can prevent engine damage, spend less on costly repairs, and extend the long-term use of your four-wheeler or side-by-side. You can take your vehicle to a mechanic for an oil change, but you may also be able to do the job yourself. With a quick and easy oil change, you can get back to slingin’ mud in no time. Here are ATV Trader’s step-by-step directions for how to perform an ATV and UTV oil change.

What Type of Motor Oil Should I Use?

Motor oil lubricates the vehicle’s engine so it runs effectively. There is different motor oil for two-stroke and four-stroke engines, which utilize different power cycles. Two-stroke engines mix their oil and fuel, burning them together and eliminating the need for frequent oil changes; you mostly just keep adding oil when you refuel. Four-stroke ATVs/UTVs work more like a typical vehicle engine, recirculating oil through the engine. Because the oil is not burned up, but used again and again, it can become dirty and less effective, which is why it should be regularly replaced with fresh oil. When changing oil in four-stroke vehicles, higher quality synthetic oil—often marked as 10W-40 on the label—is preferred. The instructions below are for four-stroke ATVs/UTVs.

How Often Should I Change the Oil?

Some riders change their oil every year or after 100 hours of use. To be certain you choose the right motor oil and know how often to change it, check with your owner’s manual or the manufacturer.

What Supplies Do I Need?

Here’s what you’ll need to complete an oil change on your own:

  • Gloves
  • Rags/towels
  • Wrenches
  • Motor oil
  • Funnel
  • Oil filter
  • Oil pan
  • Jack stand (if you need more space underneath the vehicle)

Once you know the type of oil to use and how often to change it, and you’ve got the right supplies, you’re ready to change the oil in your off-road vehicle.

1. Place Your ATV/UTV on a Flat and Level Surface

Make sure your garage, driveway, or other space for changing the oil provides a flat and level surface. This makes it safer and easier to perform your oil change and it ensures most of the oil drains through the drain hole at the bottom of the engine.

2. Check the Oil Level

You may need to check your owner’s manual for the exact location of the dipstick to see the oil level. On some ATVs/UTVs, you will have to remove the seat and/or panels to access the oil dipstick, tank, and filter. To check the engine oil level:

  • Pull out the dipstick,
  • Wipe it clean with a rag,
  • Put it back into its tube and push it all the way down,
  • Remove it once again, and
  • Note where the oil line is between the high and low marks on the dipstick.

Once you check the oil level, don’t forget to return the dipstick back into its tube.

3. Run the Engine for 10 Minutes

Running the engine for 10 minutes warms up any existing oil so that it will more easily come out during the oil change. Be careful that you don’t run your engine too long, because you do NOT want to be working with a hot vehicle.

4. Drain the Oil 

Put on gloves and make sure your rags/towels are nearby, then place the oil pan under the vehicle to catch draining oil. With a wrench, remove the drain plug. The owner’s manual will show you the exact location of the drain plug.

5. Replace the Oil Filter

After the oil is drained, use a wrench to remove the oil filter. Clean the oil filter cover and replace the old filter with a new one. Lubricate the replacement filter “O ring” with a small amount of oil. Tighten filter screws with a wrench.

6. Add Oil

When the oil has drained, use your wrench to re-secure the drain plug. Use a funnel to add new motor oil into the tank. Markings on the funnel will indicate your oil level. Most user manuals recommend adding 1.5–2.5 quarts of motor oil.

7. Run the Engine for 10 Seconds

Running the engine for at least 10 seconds helps circulate the oil around the engine.

8. Recheck the Oil Level

Repeat the process described in Step 1 for checking the oil level. Rechecking the oil level lets you know you have added the right amount of oil.

9. Reassemble Panels and Secure the Seat

If you have to remove the seat and/or panels to change the oil, securely reattach them to your ATV/UTV. Clean up your station, properly dispose of rags/towels and oil canisters, and write down the date of your oil change for your records. This helps you keep track of your oil changes so you know when to perform the next one.

Conclusion: Oil changes are essential to your ATV or UTV running properly. With a step-by-step guide, oil changes can be quick and easy, helping you get your off-road vehicle back on the trails or back to the worksite. Looking to purchase a four-wheeler or side-by-side? Check out a full selection of new and used ATVs and UTVs at


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Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller

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