Essential ATV/UTV Maintenance Tips

Whether you ride a Polaris RZR, Can-Am Renegade, Honda Rancher or another ATV or UTV, you likely push it hard,...

December 13, 2017

Whether you ride a Polaris RZR, Can-Am Renegade, Honda Rancher or another ATV or UTV, you likely push it hard, yet want it to deliver top-notch performance and last for years. Here are four things to consider when maintaining your ATV or UTV.

Accessories equal weight

It’s common to burden your ATV or UTV with accessories designed to increase power or productivity, especially for UTV owners. Enthusiasts often add roof and door panels, a winch, a plow, skid plates and other accessories. Plus, how often do you haul a load of gravel or pull a trailer or other implement?

This all adds weight, and a good rule of thumb is that extra weight equals extra heat. Heat, in turn, causes lubricants to break down sooner, which places your engine and differentials at risk of wear.

Heat invites engine wear

The oil’s primary job is to form a protective layer on metal parts to keep them separated so they don’t rub together and wear out. High heat from the stress you place on your machine, however, can cause oils formulated for standard service to become thinner (lose viscosity). Thinner oil than what your engine is designed for can fail to develop an oil film of adequate thickness or strength to protect against wear.

Plus, high heat invites sludge and performance-robbing deposits inside the engine. Sludge can clog oil passages and starve the engine of oil, while deposits can cause the piston rings to stick or interfere with proper valve operation, leading to reduced engine compression. What does that mean to you? Compression equals power, so over time your engine slowly makes less power. Eventually, deposits and sludge can wreck the engine completely.

Shift to better performance

The story is similar inside the transmission, differential and front drive. All the extra weight and stress of hard work and performance riding concentrates intense pressure on gears. The lubricant coats the gear teeth during operation, guarding against metal-to-metal contact and wear. The added stress, combined with high heat, can break the fluid film and literally squeeze the lubricant from between the gears, leading to wear. As with the motor oil, high heat causes the lubricant to thin, which negatively affects wear protection.

Upgrade to synthetic lubricants

So what’s the solution? Ride more conservatively? Haul lighter loads and work less?

Never. Upgrade to high-quality synthetic motor oil, differential and transmission fluid, front drive fluid and other lubricants, especially if you’ve modified your ATV or UTV for greater power or productivity. Synthetic lubricants don’t contain the impurities inherent to conventional lubricants, meaning they deliver better performance and last longer. Their naturally tough base oils resist extreme heat and maintain a strong protective film better than conventional products.

And don’t balk at the slightly higher initial price. Think of synthetics as just another performance upgrade. You don’t think twice about dropping a few hundred dollars on a snowplow or work trailer. Over the course of your machine’s life, the few extra dollars you spend per oil change or transmission/differential service is a drop in the bucket by comparison.

Plus, you can rest assured your rig is protected no matter how hard you push it.

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