In order for your off-road vehicle to tackle muddy, bumpy, and rocky trails, these tough machines require periodic care. Routine maintenance is critical for keeping your ATV or UTV performing at its best. With so many different parts that handle different functions, servicing your off-roader can become overwhelming. To help you out, ATV Trader has broken down five fluids to maintain in your ATV or UTV.
Before you can tear up the trails in your ATV or UTV, you have to make sure it has fuel. Maintaining your fuel levels is very straightforward. Many four-wheelers or side-by-sides take regular, unleaded gasoline that you can get from a gas station. Check with your manufacturer’s recommendations before filling up.
Some vehicles are equipped with a fuel gauge that indicates how much gas is in the tank. If not, you can purchase a separate fuel gauge, or keep an eye on your odometer and determine a mileage that’s optimal for refueling. When your off-roader’s fuel levels drop below a certain point, an indicator light will alert you that it’s time to fill up. If you’re planning a long day ride, it’s always a safe bet to take extra gas with you.
2. Engine Oil
Oil lubricates the engine and helps prevent corrosion and rust. Checking the engine oil levels should be part of your pre-ride inspection. If you do notice that your oil levels are low, perform an oil change and replace the oil filter too. Oil changes should be performed at least once a year, or more if you ride in severe conditions. We previously wrote a step-by-step guide to changing the oil in your off-road vehicle.
The type of oil you use in your off-roader depends on the brand you have, as well as your ride’s engine size. For example, Polaris four-wheelers use 5W-50 4-Cycle Oil or similar for their engines to perform at their max. Be sure to reference your owner’s manual to verify which type of oil is best for your ATV or UTV.
Coolant enables your ATV or UTV’s engine to maintain its optimal temperature, preventing it from overheating. Your vehicle is equipped with a coolant temperature warning light that will appear when the engine is overheating.
To avoid this, routinely check the coolant level to make sure that it’s at the specified level. For most off-road models, coolant can be replaced every five years, depending on how often you ride and the conditions. A majority of ATVs and UTVs use ethylene glycol-based coolant/antifreeze for aluminum engines that’s mixed with distilled water at a 1:1 ratio.
4. Brake Fluid
Off-road vehicles have hydraulic braking systems, which means they need brake fluid to properly function. If you have to change your brake lines, you should be prepared to collect any brake fluid that comes out of the system. Repairing your brake lines may also require you to bleed your brakes to remove any air from the fluid. If you aren’t comfortable performing this type of maintenance, you can always take your vehicle to a certified mechanic.
Before riding, you should ensure that the brake fluid is above the minimum level mark. Brake fluid can degrade, so it’s important to follow your manufacturer’s instructions to know how often you should replace the fluid, as well as the specific type of fluid to use.
5. Gear Oils
Gear oils can have different names, such as transmission and differential oil or gearbox and gear case oil, but perform the same function. These oils lubricate the gear train and prevent corrosion.
For some ATV and UTV models, the transmission is located within the engine, so it will use the same oil. However, others have a separate transmission which requires different oil. Much like the engine oil, you should check the levels of your transmission oil before every ride.
The differential oil, however, can be inspected at least once a year, according to many manufacturer recommendations. Whether your off-road vehicle has a transmission, front differential, or rear differential will depend on the type of ride you have.
Following the proper upkeep for these fluids can help extend the life of your off-roader. Checking these fluid levels should also become part of your pre-ride inspection. As always, we suggest sticking to the recommended maintenance intervals and procedures laid out in your owner’s manual to increase the longevity of your quad or side-by-side.