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For many, Old Man Winter’s arrival simply means that it’s the season to install a snow plow or tracks. But for others, it’s time to put the machine in storage until spring rolls around with better weather. If your ATV or UTV will sit around for the winter, there are a few things you can do to winterize it so that when it’s time to ride again, your machine is ready to go.


Most gas from the pump has up to 10% ethanol, which attracts water – and you don’t want that in your fuel tank, whether you have a fuel-injected machine or a carbureted machine. After fuel has been sitting around or a while, it either varnishes or goes through a process called “phase separation.” This means that the ethanol actually separates from the gasoline, moving to the bottom of the tank. When you start up your quad or side-by-side in the spring, you can end up with problems. Fortunately, treating the gas with a fuel stabilizer can easily prevent this problem.

Once you’ve treated your fuel, you need to run it through your machine. Start up your quad or side-by-side and rally it around for at least five minutes to ensure that the treated gas has made its way through all of your fuel-related components. If your vehicle has a carburetor, turn off the petcock and drain the carburetor’s float bowl.


Pouring Fuel Stabilizer into the Gas Tank

Air Filter

Service your air filter or replace it with a new one. That way, when you pull the machine out of storage, it’s ready to go. You might want to block off the inlet ports to the air box to prevent any critters from building nests inside. If you do, make sure to leave an indicator reminding you to unblock them in the spring.


Blocking Off the Air Box Inlet Port


If you’ve kept up on your machine’s standard maintenance, you’re probably okay to just store your ATV or UTV without replacing the coolant. For most powersport vehicles, the recommendation is about every two years, but you should check your owner’s manual to double-check the recommendation for your machine. Even if you’ve keep up on maintenance, it’s not a bad idea to flush the cooling system and replace it with new coolant if you plan on storing the quad or side-by-side for an extended period of time.

  • Engine Coolant
  • Replacing Coolant

    Engine Oil and Other Oils

    If your engine oil, transmission oil or differential fluid is particularly dirty, you should replace it before storing your vehicle. However, if you’ve kept up on your maintenance and your oils are still relatively clean, you should be fine just storing it.

    If you’re going to store your machine for an extended period of time, consider fogging your engine. To do this, remove the air filter and start the engine. While the engine is running, spray the fogging oil directly into the intake track. It won’t take long for it to be combusted. (You can see it come out of the exhaust.) The fogging process applies a protective coating to the internal components (such as the piston, cylinder and valves) that helps prevent rust and corrosion.

    If you don’t want to go the fogging-oil route, there is an alternative. Begin by pulling out the spark plug. Pour a teaspoon of oil and dump it inside the spark plug hole before reinstalling the spark plug. However, do not replace the spark plug cap as you don’t actually want to start the engine. Crank the engine a few times. This coats the internal components with oil to prevent rust and corrosion.


    Fogging the Oil

    CVT Clutch

    CVT clutches have an inlet duct and an outlet duct. You need to plug these off before you put your machine into storage to prevent mice and other critters from building nests inside them during the winter. Just remember to leave some sort of reminder to unplug them when you pull the machine back out of storage.


    Blocking Off the CVT Ducts


    When putting an ATV or UTV into storage, it’s always good to pull the battery from the machine and place it on a trickle charger or similar device to keep it in a good state of charge. It’s not a bad idea to install quick-disconnect leads, especially for those batteries that are difficult to remove and install. This makes it easy to keep your battery in a state of charge because you can simply plug it into the trickle charger.


    Removing Battery


    If you have the means to do so, it’s never a bad idea to elevate the machine to get the vehicle’s weight off the tires. This helps prevent them from getting any flat spots and prolongs the life of the tires, especially if the ATV or UTV is going to be in storage for an extended period of time.


    Lifting Machine


    Before you put your vehicle away in storage, it’s a good idea to clean it, wash it and spray it with polish. This helps protect your plastics, your seat and other surfaces, preventing them from oxidizing. If you don’t have a garage or trailer to store your machine, consider getting a vehicle cover. Depending on your geographical location and the types of winters you experience, you might want to look into getting a cover with ventilation to make sure you’re not trapping any moisture inside. The cover protects the ATV or UTV from snow, rain and sun.


    Covering UTV


    Tell Us What You Think

    Properly preparing your quad or side-by-side will keep your machine in good shape until the next time you decide to ride. Do you have any tips for winterizing your machine? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!