Winterizing Your ATV: Expectations vs. Reality

ATV being used in snow

A quick Google search using the key phrase “How to winterize my ATV” will give you dozens, if not hundreds, of tips on how to do it yourself. As you go through each of these tips, you visualize how easy it is to keep your ATV in tip-top shape during the cold season.

But let us tell you now: ATV winterizing is best done by experts. A simple Google search will show you the most reliable professionals when it comes to winterizing ATVs. Just search for “ATV winterizing” plus the location (e.g., ATV winterizing Salt Lake City).

But if you insist on doing it yourself, here’s what may happen:


Here are some of the items you need to take care of to winterize your ATV:


Whether it’s transmission oil, engine oil, or a differential fluid, you need to change it if it’s already dirty.


Some fuels contain ethanol. When you don’t use your ATV for a certain period, the ethanol will separate from the gasoline and will stay at the bottom of the tank. This may cause problems when you start up the engine. To avoid this problem, add a fuel stabilizer.


Since batteries may also freeze, you need to remove yours from your ATV and store it where it won’t freeze.

ATV's on the road


The steps enumerated above seem very easy to follow. However, you need to make these extra measures to ensure that you’re doing it correctly:


Apparently, changing the oil is not enough. You also need to apply a protective coating to the other parts of the engine, such as the valves, piston, and cylinder. There are two ways to do this:

  • Remove the spark plug. Pour a teaspoon of oil into the spark plug hole, and then reinstall the spark plug without putting back the cap. Crank the engine a few times until the oil is spread to the necessary components.
  • Use fogging oil. Begin by removing the air filter, and then starting your engine immediately. While it is running, spray the fogging oil into the intake manifold or intake tract. Once you see the oil coming out of the exhaust, stop the fogging process and turn off your engine.


While protecting the fuel from the winter spell seems straightforward, the fuel stabilizer you need to buy should be alcohol-free. It seems pretty simple until you find out the alcohol-free stabilizers are difficult to find. In addition, it doesn’t stop at adding the stabilizer. You need to run the engine for 5-10 minutes until it is warm, so the stabilizer is evenly distributed. Then, you have to top up the fuel until it reaches the bottom of the filler neck to prevent condensation.


Some batteries are hard to remove and replace. For them, you need to buy and install quick disconnect leads. In addition, while storing them, you must hook them to a trickle charger to keep them from being discharged.

ATV winterizing can surely be a DIY thing. But unless you know what you’re doing, it’s better to ask an expert to do it for you. It saves you time and assures you that everything is done right, so when spring comes, you can rev up your engine and take off right away easily.

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