There are plenty of things you can do to your quad to make it run better, last longer, and be more reliable. We have come up with a lengthy list of items we know can help you prepare for the trail or track. Included is everything from basic carb jetting tips to how to set up your gear for your next long distance ride as well as some handy tools and devices.
So consult our list of 101 tips, products and procedures, and find the ones that will help improve the overall performance of your ATV or equipment. Read on and prosper?
1. If you ride in the mud a lot then you might want to add a set of wheel spacers to your quad. This will increase its stability on sidehills and allow you a wider track over the ruts left by previous quad riders.
2. Mud riders will also want to pay particular attention to their brakes and wheel bearings. If you ride in water and mud that is axle deep, you should remove the tires and brake drums and clean out any accumulation of grit. If you don’t, you will eventually ruin $200 worth of wheel bearings and brake pads before their time.
3. If you remove the brake drums on a Honda utility or 4×4 quad, make sure you apply a thick coat of water-proof grease to the rubber dust seal as this is the primary barrier to water entering the brake drum.
4. Do not run excessively low air pressure in your ATV?s tires. Too low an air pressure (3 pounds or less) can cause the bead of the tire to become unseated and flatten the tire. It will then be much more difficult to fix in the field. A good range is between five to seven pounds. Also, for severe mud use the higher air pressures since doing that will make your tires a little taller and add some ground clearance.
5. If you knock the bead off your tire in the field, carry a ratchet tie-down in your tool box. That way you can ratchet the tie down around the tire and force the bead back on. Make sure you also carry something to reinflate your tire.
6. Double check where your crank case breather hose is located. If you regularly ford water higher than the location of your breather hose, you should consider rerouting it to a higher location, preferably the airbox, if possible.
7. K&N and Uni-Filter both make a small filter for use on crank case breather hoses. Use one if possible when rerouting your breather hose to the airbox.
8. Always remember to turn your fuel petcock off. Believe it or not, gravity will cause the carburetor to flood. Be sure and always carry a spare spark plug in the correct heat range for your machine should it flood out.
9. Riding in lots of water could cause your foot brake pedal to eventually rust up. Soak the shaft in penetrating oil to help keep it from rusting and freezing up.
10. The good ol? boys at Hi-Lifter let us know about the benefits of STP?s Sun-Of-A-Gun protectorant. Spray this stuff all over your clean ATV and do not wipe it off. Return in an hour and the plastic and metal on your quad will be bright and shiny. It covers scratches particularly well and looks good until the next time you have to wash your quad.
11. When towing a friend out of mud, be sure to attach your tow strap (never use chains) at a low point on the quad that is about the same height as the axle. That gives you the best drive when pulling another quad.
12. If you own a Yamaha Warrior or Banshee you should definitely opt to install one of Pro Design?s Pro Flow attachments, along with either an Outerwear filter or PC-1 filter wrap. These will help keep sand and dirt out of your expensive top-end much more effectively than the stock airbox.
13. Looking for something to keep all those main jets in? Try one of Graydon Proline?s main jet holders. While you?re at it, get one of Motion Pro?s knurled knob main jet extractors. Both make working on the carburetor easier.
14. You should always keep a spare spring for your quad?s exhaust system in your ATV?s toolbox. It could spell the difference between making it back to camp with your pipe still attached at the exhaust mount.
15. Carry a set of spare brake pads with you for emergencies. Braking makes severe-duty pads that hold up to wear much better than normal OEM pads.
16. If your thumb fatigues on your ATV rides then invest in a Thumb Saver from CDS. They?re cheap ($12.95) and really help keep your thumb from cramping up.
17. High Lifter carries an engine cooling kit for both air-cooled ($69.95) and liquid-cooled ($99.95) 4-stroke ATVs, as well as 2-stroke, liquid-cooled ($105.99) quads. The kits consist of exhaust wrap tape, additives for the engine and coolants that help lower operation temperatures of these machines quite dramatically. They are a great way to keep your motor running cooler and cut down on heat-related horsepower loss.
18. SideWinder products makes a new chain lubricant called P-51. This chain lube is especially designed for O-ring chains and doesn?t fling off, dry out or attract dirt and grit like conventional chain lubes can. Also, unlike WD-40, which can dry out the O-rings and cause premature chain wear, P-51 keeps them lubricated and operating at peak efficiency.
19. If you use gas out of a plastic gas can, make sure you rotate the gas through it regularly. Gasoline deteriorates more rapidly in plastic cans than it does in metal cans.
20. If your machine starts sputtering and missing while crossing streams, then you probably need to either get a new waterproof spark plug cap or apply dielectric grease to the stock plug boot. You should be able to find the grease in any auto parts store.
21. To prevent damaging your ATV?s front bumper and front racks when pushing buddies out of the mud, consider cutting up a heater hose and attaching it to the front end. That will prevent contact from scraping either machine.
22. You can make your own race gas by mixing premium pump gas with octane extender and get an octane rating of around 104.
23. Be careful not to use powerwashers on your oil cooler or radiator fins. The high water pressure can flatten the tiny fins on your cooler or radiator decreasing flow and cooling efficiency.
24. When using your ATV?s winch, make sure the connections at the battery are not corroded. It is also a good idea to keep a small snatch block or pulley on hand which doubles the strength of your winch.
25. When winching another rider out of the mud, do not pull out some cable, hook it up and then back up suddenly. Winches are designed to work best with a slow steady pull, not a sharp jerking impact.
26. A general rule of thumb on correctly jetting the carburetor on a high-performance quad for the weather is that every 15 degrees of air temperature change, up or down, requires a main jet change. You can usually get by on one 15 degree change without rejetting but rarely two. This usually does not apply to 4×4 and utility riders of most four-stroke ATVs which can withstand varying temperatures all day long with no major changes.
27. Cold weather requires larger main jets (higher number) warm weather requires smaller (lower number) jet sizes. Example: if it?s 70 degrees and you run a 155 main jet, at 55 degrees install a 158 main jet. Generally, you need to compensate with the main jet more for cold weather than when it?s hot.
28. Another rule of thumb for sport riders. Every 1500 feet of elevation increase requires one jet size change down. Example: If you live at sea level and run a 155 main jet, then when you go to 1500 feet switch to a 152 main. The opposite applies if you?re jetted to run at a high altitude and then go down 1500 feet.
29. AV gas is not necessarily the hot setup for racing engines. The octane ratings on Aviation gas don?t include a motor knock test that is included in the testing of race and pump gas. This additional test can change the octane rating of the fuel and show AV gas as having a higher octane rating than it actually does. AV gas is also harder starting in cold weather. Therefore, it is not as good a value as some riders might think. Always consult your engine builder before using AV gas.
30. When discussing the carb slide needle clip position, number one is the top position and, therefore, the leanest setting. It is best to start your carb jetting procedures with the needle clip in the middle or #3 position. The needle jet controls the 1/4 to 2/3 throttle settings.
31. Remove your swing arm pivot bolt and grease it at the minimum at least once a year. If neglected, it can seize in place, costing billions to repair.
32. On 1985 through 1990 Suzuki LT 250 QuadRacers, the rear shock rocker bolt should be removed and greased every season. You should also check to make sure it is straight?if bent, replace it.
33. If you love jumping your ATV and you bottom your suspension regularly, you need to upgrade your shocks or rebuild them. Excessive bottoming will fatigue the frame and swingarm costing you even more money in the long run.
34. If you have adjustable suspension, to stiffen it, turn in the compression knob (it is the one on the shock reservoir). If so equipped, you can also adjust the rebound of the shock. This regulates how quickly the shock returns when it hits a bump. It is located on the shaft end of the shock.
35. If your chain has to be adjusted often or your sprockets show a lot of wear, it is always a good idea to change all of them out at once. You don?t want to run a new chain on an old sprocket or a new sprocket with an old chain.
36. Even though O-ring chains cost more, they are more than worth the extra money. Don?t skimp when it comes time to replace your chain.
37. Never use fabric (K&N) filter oil on a foam filter. It was not designed to oil a foam filter.
38. Change your gearbox oil regularly, the clutch will contribute contaminants to your engine oil and decrease its effectiveness.
39. Check your axle bearings at regular intervals. Pull the axle out. Turn the bearings with your fingers, if they roll smooth and even then they are good.
40. If you own one of Suzuki?s peppy LT 80 mini quads, you need the front clutch serviced regularly. It is very simple to take apart and grease. Do this at least once a season. If you neglect it, you will have to replace the entire clutch.
41. Cut the flap on the front of the rear fender on LT-80s. This allows you to access the spark plug much easier.
42. If you want to eliminate the oil injector and run pre-mix in your Yamaha Blaster, remove the pump, take out the plastic drive gear, and replace everything else. Replace the pump and clip the hoses.
43. Always soak new clutch plates in oil for a minute before installation.
44. If you didn?t tear your clutch cover gasket, it is okay to re-use it.
45. You don?t need special tools to remove a clutch basket. Simply leave the clutch plates in place, hold the top plate with your thumb and hit the center nut with an impact wrench. The nut will spin off. Tighten the same way. Don?t forget to bend the washer tabs to lock the nut.
46. You do need special tools to remove flywheels. In many cases if you remove a flywheel with a universal puller, it will ruin the flywheel. Use the right tool for the right job.
47. You need an impact wrench to remove or tighten a flywheel. If you stick something through the flywheel to hold it from spinning, 99 percent of the time you will ruin your stator.
48. If you are going to ride in dust, try using Moose Dust?r on your goggles. It really keeps the dust from sticking to the outside and inside of the lens.
49. Before riding in sand or dusty conditions put vegetable oil on the foam around your goggles. It will help keep debris from dropping in.
50. If your ATV gets stuck with one wheel spinning wildly in the air and one on the ground not getting any traction at all, try tapping the front brake. This will often be enough to activate the positive traction feature of your front axle and transfer power to the wheel with more traction.
51. After oiling your air filter, hold it up to a light and inspect it to make sure there are no dry spots or tears.
52. Don?t neglect your silencer. Repacking it with new material is cheap and easy and will allow your quad to run better.
53. Don?t forget to occasionally check the little debris reservoir at the bottom of your airbox. Cleaning it out is as easy as removing the clip and shaking out the junk.
54. The only way to properly lube your cables is with a cable luber. The difference it can make with clutch and brake action is incredible.
55. When adding aftermarket lights, run about 50 watts less than what your rewound stator can handle. This helps keep your lights brighter at low rpm.
56. Oversize tires suck up horsepower. Make sure you really need them before making the swap.
57. Shock covers not only look cool, but they keep abrasives from tearing up the seals and the shafts.
58. Once brake fluid has boiled, it will boil easier again. Change the fluid if you use your brakes to the point where they fade.
59. Aftermarket exhaust pipes generally add more horsepower to two-strokes than four-strokes. A good four-stroke pipe can bring in ten to 20 percent more horsepower, but most pipes make more noise as well.
60. Always check the gap on a new spark plug?there?s no such thing as a pre-gapped plug.
61. ATV salvage companies can save you money. You don?t always have to buy expensive OEM replacement parts from the dealer.
62. Lack of lubrication (not enough or worn-out oil) is one of the most common mistakes that will damage any engine, particularily a four-stroke.
63. The cheapest and easiest horsepower gain can be had by venting the airbox lid and re-jetting the carb. Remember to tape the lid back up if you?re going to run in the mud.
64. Any time you modify the engine, there is more load put on the clutch. Keep it in shape with heavy-duty clutch springs if you?ve added more than 20 percent to the horsepower.
65. Valve adjustment is often overlooked. Four-stroke racers should adjust them after every race. Trail riders should consult their owner?s manual and stick to that schedule.
66. Cams control the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves. There are aftermarket cams designed for more low-end, midrange or top-end power.
67. On a four-stroke, when the power starts falling off and surging, that?s an indication that the engine is running too lean.
68. If a two-stroke suddenly starts running lean, it is usually an indication of an air leak in the engine.
69. If your four-stroke is hitting the rev limiter a lot, change to larger-diameter tires to increase your speed without overreving the engine.
70. The angle of the clutch and brake levers may not be right for all riders. If you?re an aggressive rider and stand up a lot, angle the levers downward.
71. Tire sealant can save your day if you happen to get a small puncture on the trail.
72. The four keys to crossing a giant mud bog are momentum, traction, horsepower and ground clearance.
73. In real deep water crossings, if you feel the quad start to float, sit back on the seat to keep the air intake snorkel above the water line, stay on the throttle, and hope you meet solid ground real soon.
74. When you hit big muddy ruts, rock the quad back and forth to get traction.
75. One way to keep mud from building up on your quad is to spray a lubricant under the fenders and frame before the ride.
76. Check for worn axle bearings by putting your quad on a stand, grabbing the rear tire from the side, and wiggling it back and forth, looking for signs of sloppiness.
77. Check for worn ball joints or wheel bearings on the front end by doing the same check with your front tires.
78. On performance quads with rear shock linkages, don?t forget to lube them regularity.
79. The easiest and best way to apply safety wire is with a special safety wire tool available from White Brothers.
80. When removing bearings from cases use a propane torch to heat the case or housing, this will make the housing let go of the bearing. Freeze the new bearing prior to installation, it will easily drop into its bore.
81. Check the coolant level before every ride, sometimes you don?t know if the quad overheated and lost fluid until you look in the radiator.
82. Check the gearbox oil before every ride, sometimes the missing coolant can be found in the gearbox due to a water pump seal failure.
83. Worn footpegs can be brought back to life with a simple metal file and some elbow grease.
84. Shock pivot bearings need to be greased occasionally just like all other pivot points.
85. Tire repair kits can easily be carried along on a trail ride and can save the day. The handy Progressive Suspension Emergency Tire Repair Kit is available from White Brothers for $31.78.
86. TT and MX racers do a lot of custom grooving on their tires. The White Brothers Tire Groover Tool sells for $75.
87. Enduro jackets are one of the best-ever products for ATV riders. They last forever, look cool, keep you dry, and wash easily.
88. Newspaper bags or bread bags make good disposable filter handling gloves.
89. Malcolm Smith Racing?s spring puller ($4.95) saves time and knuckle skin when you remove or install pipe springs.
90. A variety of companies sell back-style watering systems. Once you try one in the middle of the summer you?ll wonder how you ever lived without one.
91. Tired of changing sprockets? SideWinder Stainless Steel sprockets last forever, but they?re expensive and heavy ($99- $120).
92. Malcom Smith Racing?s QuickSteel ($5) is a strong heat and fuel resistant epoxy that can patch all sorts of metal and plastic parts. Its neat putty form lets you carry it in a fannypack.
93. Are you getting fatigued while riding in the rough? James Lucky sells Vibra Stop Steering Stabilizers ($106) that really smooth out the ride.
94. Can?t think of a good birthday present for your riding buddy? Try one of the Quatros Locos or Heuvos Grandes extreme ATV videos ($25) from motovideo.com
95. GPS for under $100? Andy?s Motorsports sells the Magellan GPS Pioneer for $99.95.
96. OEM plastic costs too much? Check out Maier?s replacement plastic at www.hipersports.com
97. A four-ply tire rating is a good choice for general sport use. High-performance cross-country racers usually shoot for a six-ply.
98. Don?t leave your machine in gear to keep from moving in the back of your truck, this will damage the gearbox in a hurry. Utilize your parking brake, cinch it in place, or zip-tie around the front brake lever.
99. Lube your chain just after a ride while the chain is still warm, the lubricant will penetrate better.
100. If you ride aggressively or are bottoming the rear suspension regularity, have your shock revalved by a professional. You will go faster, safer and your machine will last much longer.
101. Teach a friend how to ride. We could all use more riding buddies.