The Mudslinger

Learn How to Winterize ATVs So Spring Start-Up Is A Cinch

Nov 23, 2019 12:00:00 PM / by Rusty G.

You’ll want to start preparing your quad for winter hibernation.

Especially if you live in a part of the U.S. that isn’t giddy about below-freezing temperatures.

The winter months may bring unlimited amounts of hot cocoa and toasty evenings spent by the fire, but they also bring bitterly cold weather that isn’t conducive to outdoor recreation, including riding our four-wheelers. 

I may not speak for everyone, but the moment the mercury in my thermometer starts dipping below the 32-degree Fahrenheit mark, I’m all but sprinting to the garage to start the process of winterizing my quad so that it’s properly stored while Mother Nature runs her course. Waiting until the last minute to prep your machine is “unnecessarily hard on our rides,” warns, so make time to care for it before conditions become too harsh. 

On that note, if you’re planning to store your ATV during winter, complete this list of easy steps so that your quad is ripe and ready for spring riding. Here’s how to winterize ATVs:

Winterize ATVs

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Whether fuel-injected or carbureted, unattended quads that sit for extended periods with gas still in the fuel tank will have problems come riding season. There are two routes you can take to avoid this:

  1. Turn off the fuel completely, run the machine until all of the gas is used up, then siphon out any remaining gas and store in an approved container; or
  2. Leave the gas in the fuel tank but treat it with a stabilizer to prevent “phase separation” and varnishing. Then, run your machine for several minutes, ensuring the treated gas has made its way through all fuel-related components. (Note: If your four-wheeler has a carburetor, you’ll have to turn off the petcock and drain the float bowl.)


ATV battery charging for storage

As so lovingly put it, “Batteries are like relationships – they need constant attention.” So, buy a charging plug that you can connect to your battery. Then, remove the battery entirely, insert the plug (i.e. “trickle charger”), and store the battery in a safe place during its prolonged charging session. Completing this step will not only extend the life of your battery, but it will also save you from having to purchase a brand-new component for spring. 

CVT Clutch

All of God’s creation is seeking shelter from the brutal months of winter, and that includes mice and other small critters. To prevent your transmission from becoming a haven for rodents galore, be sure to plug up any inlet ports according to the instructions found in your service manual. Just don’t forget you’ve put them there, or else you’ll be serving roasted critters for supper. 

ATV storage for winter

Air Filter

After a full season of day-to-day riding, your air filter is going to need a little TLC. The folks at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC warn that leaving your air filter dirty from the previous riding season will cause a rough engine start when it’s time to take your ATV out of hibernation, and that any leftover oils can cause the filter to deteriorate. If you’ve recently replaced your air filter per the service schedule in your owner’s manual, then you should be in the clear!


When it comes to engine oil, coolant, and other fluids your ride needs, either flush the remainder out and replace entirely, or be diligent about servicing your quad in the months leading up to winter because you might not need to perform this winter maintenance at all. 


If you have the equipment to do so, you may want to consider elevating your machine to protect the tires from developing flat spots while in storage.

After you’ve completed the steps listed above, clean and wash your off-roading buddy to prevent the chassis, seat, and other hard surfaces from oxidizing over time, and invest in a ventilated cover if your machine won’t be stored in the garage. 

ATV winter storage

Need a few ATV riding tips for winter? Check out Winter Riding: The Ultimate List of ATV Trails Open All Year and Winter is Coming! Are You and Your Four-Wheeler Prepared? for destinations and ATV trail riding tips!

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Topics: Articles, ATV and Off-Road, Mudslinger

Rusty G.

Written by Rusty G.

I live to go off the beaten path. Whether it's about ATVs, UTVs, or dirt bikes, I write fun and interesting off-road articles that teach and hopefully inspire you to hit the trail or the track.