How Often Should I Start My ATV (Don’t, this is why)

Prepping your ATV for hibernation can be confusing, but if you follow these simple steps, you’ll have a trouble-free ATV.

It’s not necessary to start an ATV if it’s winterized correctly. To keep an ATV in great shape and ready to run at the touch of the start button, follow these four tips:

  1. Store bike indoors
  2. Use a gas stabilizer
  3. Keep gas tank full
  4. Use a smart battery charger

In this post, you’ll learn why you shouldn’t run your ATV engine for short periods. You’ll also learn how to keep your bike in top shape and ready to roll at a moment’s notice.

Don’t Start Your Bike

I don’t recommend you start your bike unless you’re going to ride it. Allowing your bike to idle for a few minutes few weeks does more harm than good.

An engine needs to get to operating temperature before it can burn off the moisture that naturally develops inside the motor. In addition, starting a cold engine requires a choke, which when repeatedly done simply causes raw gas to wash the cylinder, stripping it of its protective oil coating.

Allowing your exhaust to get warm and not hot will only cause condensation buildup, which promotes corrosion.

Starting, riding your bike until it reaches operating temperatures regularly, like every week, is a good thing. It will help keep the brakes clean, the cables operating, and the internals moisture-free.

Generally, machinery doesn’t like lying about. But there is a right way to do it.


Storing a bike in a heated garage would be the very best solution, and bikes stored indoors will cause the least trouble over their lifetime.

Failing that, a shelter or breathable cover is the next best option. But a breathable cover is important. A plastic sheet will cause condensation and lock it in, which is exactly what you don’t want.

Gas Stabiliser

Use a gas stabilizer additive in your gas if you don’t intend to ride your bike inside the next thirty days. Blended gas, which is most gas now, only stays fresh for about a month and regular gas about three.

After a month, the gas loses its zing, your bike will still run but won’t have the same punch. But add a few more months, and the gas starts to evaporate, and you’ll develop a sticky, gummy deposit t in the carburetor. The only way to fix this is carb removal, strip down, and thorough cleaning. You also need to replace components like float needle and seat.

All this can be avoided by using the gas stabilizer, you could use it year-round, but I only use it when the bike is hibernating.

It’s easy to use. Mix it with the gas to the ratio direction on the bottle and fill up the tank. Run the engine long enough to get the mix throughout the fuel system. That’s it fuel system protected for up to two years in some cases.

Keep Gas Tank Full

Keep your gas tank full to the top. It prevents moisture buildup and corrosion. This is great advice I got from an old-timer many years ago. In those days, gas tanks were sheet metal.

But the advice still stands for today’s plastic tanks. Gas tank corrosion has been eliminated, but water in the fuel system will still cause headaches.

The theory behind this is pretty solid. Keeping the gas tank full reduces interior gas tank surface area, and therefore nowhere for condensation to form.

Battery Charger

A flat battery is one of the biggest challenges with storing your bike. A battery, as you know, is designed to be charged and discharged continuously. That’s what keeps it vibrant.

Connecting and disconnecting batteries is a pain in the jacksie and isn’t practical. The solution is a smart charger. It’s called a smart charger because you plug it in as any normal charger and forget about it until you want to ride.

It continuously senses the battery state of charge and applies charge only when needed. It won’t overcharge your battery and is inexpensive to use.

No need to disconnect the battery, no need to start the bike to charge the battery. It’s plug a play kit and can be used on cars, trucks, riding mowers, etc.

You may find the following posts useful:

Okay, to leave bike in the rain?

Storing bike outside

Can you run bike without battery?

John Cunningham

John Cunningham is a certified mechanic and writer on I’ve been a mechanic for over twenty-five years, I use my knowledge and experience to write articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of ATV ownership, from maintenance & repair to troubleshooting.

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