The(REVISED) Spring Cattlemen’s ATV prep

As the season approaches for those long nights watching the herd, we both know that you will need your four wheeler more than ever, so let’s talk about your four wheeled saddle horse.

First off if you plan to take your 4X4 steed to the professionals do it early; we do greatly appreciate your business, the problems come from every one needing them at the same time, so a little early planning prevents two week backlogs in the schedule.

If you do your own repairs and maintenance I will offer these pointers.
• It easy to forget things like the air filter when doing basic service, (this includes cleaning and re-oiling for most foam units). We saw more dirt inhalation damage last summer than the last five year combined; the dry dusty conditions are a real concern. If it is a paper type filter it needs replaced not cleaned. Check it over for tears; this is a small deal now that could be a big deal later.
• Both front and rear final drives should be changed and if it’s a muddy spring check them every week if they are getting submerged. Check to see that you are using the proper lube, some models have very unique demands.
• When doing any service on an ATV put the 1/2” drive ratchet back in the tool box and get a ¼” socket set. Most engine bolts are 6mm bolt that have an  8 or 10mm head, the torque on a bolt like this is about 6 foot pounds, the drain plug may have a 17mm head but about 15 foot pounds is all they can take. In the worst cases we have to tear the motor down to repair the striped drain plugs. 
• Another bad oops on some motors is to install the oil filter backwards this starves the motor of oil and equals costly repairs (this true of the 300 Honda and many others). While on the oil subject, the oil you pick is very important. Most ATVs share the engine oil in the transmission and clutch, each of these jobs require certain additives, motorcycle (ATV) oil is the only application that mixes all three in one. Don’t forget to check your manual for a viscosity recommendation; some models are sensitive to running the proper viscosity. 
• Don’t overlook things like setting valves and cam chains, check your manufacturers’ maintenance schedule for what needs done and when. A service manual is also necessary to get torque and clearance specifications.
•  The weak point on some units seems to be wheel bearings and brakes, so give these points special attention. In some cases the bearing has spun inside the housing (knuckle) and you will have to replace the casting with the bearing.  
 For the most part we are talking about good old TLC, but if you are staring with a good solid machine that is all it should require for thousands of miles of steadfast service.

I hope this can be helpful in reducing the inevitable stress that the long days and night watches that are all part of the calving season.