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Storing ATV Outside (5 Top tips)

Storing your ATV outside isn’t ideal but I understand, some folks just don’t have the storage space. I have collected lots of old ATV’s and cars over the years and most aren’t stored indoors, but they are protected.

To successfully store an ATV outside, follow these five outdoor storage tips.

  1. Use a breathable cover
  2. Use a gas stabilizer
  3. Keep your gas tank full
  4. Use WD40 to protect
  5. Remove the battery for longer term storage

In this post, you’ll learn how to safely store your ATV outside without causing damage. I’ll also share my top tips for long-term ATV storage.

1 Use a Breathable Cover

When storing your four-wheeler outside, you need protection from the elements. A quality cover is by far the number one best investment you can make for the protection of your ATV.

Old ATV stored outside

Sure ATVs are designed to be rugged and durable and can be stored outside. But without basic protection like a cover, you’ll find before long your once reliable machine will develop lots of annoying problems.

Common issues with ATVs that live outdoors without suitable weather protection include:

  • Premature battery failure
  • Blown light bulbs
  • Electrical control switch failure
  • Ignition switch failure
  • Wiring corrosion
  • Sticking/seizing brakes & controls
  • Chassis & fastener corrosion
  • UV damaged plastic components

Nearly all of these problems are caused by moisture, and so if your ATV lives in a dry state, I’m jealous, lucky you. But for most, some weather protection is needed to keep your machine dry.

Don’t be tempted to cover it in plastic. It’s an honest mistake to make. But it does more damage over the long term as the plastic causes moisture to condense on component surfaces.

That’s where the damage begins. The moisture turns to corrosion which causes high resistance in electrical circuits and causes moving parts like cables and brake levers to stick and seize.

Buy a really good quality cover, and make sure it’s a breathable cover. This reduces condensation buildup. If you can, park your ATV somewhere sheltered from rain/snow but in direct wind. Sounds counterproductive, I know, but the wind helps dry off any trapped moisture on the machine.

And if you are the lucky reader in the dry state, the cover still applies, as you know only too well, the sun will kill your plastic and rubber components.

2 Use a Gas Stabilizer

What is a gas stabilizer, and what does it do? A gas stabilizer is an additive you mix with the gas. You can buy it in any auto parts shop. It prevents gas from stale and helps prevent moisture and gumming buildup inside the gas tank and carburetor.

ATV gas tank drain

Water in the gas is common with machines stored outdoors, and it causes all kinds of running issues. No starts, bogging down, no power, hesitation, etc. The only fix here is to drain the tank and flush out the carburetor.

Using a gas stabilizer will help prevent moisture buildup. Modern gas is, as you may know, a blend of ethanol and regular gas. The ethanol mix attracts moisture and can cause problems in atmospheric gas tanks.

Gumming of the carburetor is common, too, and a lot more work to fix. What is gumming? Gumming is a sticky solidified mess that congeals inside the carburetor, blocking up fuel jets and other mission-critical fuel delivery passageways.

What causes gumming? Gumming is caused by stale gas, which, when left in a fuel system for months, turns into a sticky deposit. It’s more common in vehicles that are stored outdoors, like tractor mowers, etc.

Gas stabilizer

Blended gas is more likely to cause gumming than regular gas, as blended gas may begin to turn stale after just one month under certain conditions.

3 Keep Gas Tank Full

ATV gas tanks are vented through the gas cap. The air is drawn in as the gas level in the tank drops. Moisture will condense inside a gas tank and isn’t a big problem if your ATV is used every day.

Refuel ATV

But moisture can accumulate in machinery suiting idle for long periods. The moisture in the fuel system will make its way to the carburetor, where it can corrode components.

The best advice is to use a gas stabilizer and keep your gas tank full. A full tank helps prevent moisture buildup. The idea is simple, less available air and surface area inside the tank equal less condensation on the walls of the tank.

4 Use WD40 To Protect

My favorite tool is WD40 penetrating oil. This stuff has fantastic properties. It repels moisture, prevents corrosion, protects plastics and rubber from UV damage.

If you’re storing your kit outdoors, you need to protect it from corrosion. Power wash your ATV and allow it to dry thoroughly in the sun with a breeze is preferable, and that’s important because WD40 can lock moisture in if your components aren’t completely dry.

I like to spray all the electrical components first and the controls, bodywork, and engine. It works great everywhere except the brake rotors.

5 Remove The Battery

Battery’s hate the cold, and they hate being discharged fully. So if you were storing your ATV outdoors for longer periods, go ahead and remove the battery and store it indoors. A battery doesn’t like being idle. It likes to be discharged and charged constantly.

Battery volt check

I use a smart charger on my ATV battery. The charger monitors the battery constantly and charges it as needed. This keeps the battery in top condition and will prolong the life of the battery.

A good smart charger might set you back about $100, but it is well worth the investment, especially if your ATV lays idle for a good part of the year.

For Longer Term Storage

If you’re hibernating your ATV for more than a couple of months, it’s worth sitting the chassis on some axle stands. Taking a load off the tires helps prevent flat spots and cracking the tire walls.

Plug your muffler with some steel wool and also the inlet to the airbox. Mice like to set up home here. Setting some bait around the machine helps prevent rodents from eating your wiring loom. They find wiring insulation irresistible.

Engine set to TDC

Remove your Spark plug and drop a cap full of engine oil in, spin over the engine to coat the cylinder with oil, and refit the plug. This prevents corrosion to the cylinder bore.

I also like to close the valves to seal off the cylinder – rotate the engine to TDC.

TDC ATV engine

Related Questions

Why does my ATV click when I try to start it? Your ATV clicks when you try to start it because the battery is flat. Other likely reasons include:

  • Failed battery
  • Loose battery connections
  • Faulty starter solenoid
  • Faulty starter motor
  • Faulty start relay
  • Faulty Ignition switch

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