When the temperature gets well below, it’s important to warm your engine before tearing it up.
ATV warm-up time will depend on ambient temperatures and where your ATV is stored. A typical winter warm-up time is five minutes at idle.
In this post, you’ll learn why warming even a modern ATV engine makes good sense. I’ll also share the one thing you should never do to your ATV, especially in cold weather.
I warm my ATV for about five minutes, which is plenty long to get the oil pressure up and everything oiled.
Never gun the throttle when the engine is cold. This is what causes piston and cylinder wear. Most ATVs are four-stroke, and that means they have a conventional oil pump pressurized lubrication system. Oil takes time to move around the engine. Engine load needs to be at a minimum until oil pressure builds.
Two-stroke engines, as you know, use a lubricant in the gas to help cool and protect. No matter two or four-stroke, all ATVs should be warmed up a little before taking the RPMs above idle.
There’s no need to let your engine idle for longer than five minutes, as your engine is now safe to use and will reach optimum operating temperature more quickly on the move.
Storing your ATV in a heated garage would be pure luxury and would reduce warm-up time to pretty much start and go. But that’s not practical for most. A second-best option is to use an insulated blanket and an insulated board under the bike.
This actually works quite well and makes a difference to bikes stored either outdoors or in an unheated garage. Consider fitting an oil pan heater. Anyone living in very cold climates is very familiar with plugging their car into the mains at night, not to charge it, but to stop it from turning into a block of ice.
The oil pan heater is an electrically heated pad with a cord. You stick it to the oil pan and plug it in at night. It keeps your engine toasty all night. Like an ATV electric blanket, feel that love!
Oil Change Before Winter
A four-stroke ATV engine has an oil sump filled with oil and an oil pump which pumps and sprays oil on all the internal moving components. Without oil, as you know, your engine is at risk of serious damage.
After shut down, the oil drains back to the oil pan, and so your engine is always at the most risk of damage, right at start-up.
The longer it takes the engine to get the oil moving, the more the risk. This is an issue in winter and summer but a much greater risk in winter as the oil is heavier and won’t move as quickly as warm oil.
OK, so you know oil is the most important defense against engine damage, especially on cold starts. So it makes great sense to check your oil level regularly and change your oil, clean/change the oil filter before the colder morning temperatures set in.
Oil Type is Important
You’ll need to use the oil type specified in your user’s manual and pay particular attention to the oil charts. The oil type for your engine is recommended by the manufacturer, but they also include an oil ambient temperature chart.
Your region’s ambient temperature dictates the oil type you should use. Modern synthetic engine oils are engineered to cope with cold weather starts. The oil is designed to cling to metal components even after shut down and remains viscous even in low temperatures.
But ATV owners will only have this protection if they use the correct grade oil and change it regularly.
I tell my customers, “Never use incorrect oil in your engine,”, especially in the colder months. Single-weight oil isn’t up to the job of protecting your engine. Different grade oils shouldn’t be mixed for top up’s either.
Changing your oil is great, but don’t forget to clean or change your oil filter, whichever your engine has. The oil is pumped around your engine in a circuit and passes through the oil filter where the contaminates are caught.
Although your oil filter incorporates a safety bypass valve, if the filter clogs, oil can still get to where it’s needed, but that’s not something you want to test, right!
ATV won’t start in cold weather? Check that your choke control is working correctly. A choke will be needed in cold temperatures. In extreme conditions, moisture in the fuel lines can freeze, blocking fuel flow.
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John Cunningham is a technical writer here at ATVfixed.com. He’s a Red Seal Qualified Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience. He’s worked on all types of mechanical equipment, from cars and trucks to ATVs and Dirt bikes.