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Things to Check Before Riding an ATV

Tanmay Tikekar
Monstering the terrain with a beast of an ATV is one of the greatest joys wheels can bring. But not making some preliminary checks on your ATV before riding it can lead to disastrous consequences. This post enlists some crucial checks that are an absolute must before riding an ATV.

Protect Your Noggin!

Riding an ATV without a helmet is much riskier than driving other vehicles without a helmet, due to the rough-and-tumble nature of the terrain ATVs are usually ridden on.
ATVs are built to be much stronger and more durable than most other vehicles. ATVs are built for the commuter, the farmer, the racer, and even the soldier, all in one! They are built to withstand minor-to-moderate knocks, and stand right back up as if nothing ever happened in the first place.
And then, the fact that some armies use ATVs as a recon vehicle is a perfect testament to their all-round capability and durability.
But even these zippy, resilient streetfighters of the automotive world need some regular maintenance and checkups, in order to be able to flash the gear-crankshaft-chain muscles when required. Here's a vital ATV pre-ride inspection checklist.


Easily the most obvious, fuel ranks high among the variables to check before riding your ATV. A fuel check is not limited to checking whether the vehicle has any.
ATVs are often ridden sporadically, with large intervals in between. In such cases, the fuel needs to be drained out from the tank and the carburetor. Fuel degenerates if left in the tank for a long time, and damages the engine - possibly permanently - if used in such a condition.

Oil and Other Lubricants

Oil keeps the engine working in excellent condition. If regular refills are not done, the lack of a lubricant causes an engine to overheat from the unchecked friction.
Similarly, other fluids such as the brake fluid and chain lube are essential in maintaining the respective components in perfect condition. Checking other lubes before every ride may be a bit excessive and unnecessary if the ATV is in regular use, but oil checks should be done regularly.


A vehicle designed to be used on rugged, unstable ground, must have its brakes in absolute top form.
Worn brake pads must be replaced as soon as possible, and discs should always have sufficient lubrication. For a basic check, press both the pedals, and check if they are too hard or too soft.

Tires and Wheels

The tough tires of an ATV are made to suffer heavy strains due to the vehicle's rough use.
Regular checkups like air pressure are necessary, but if you are going out in the woods, it is important to check if the tires or wheels are damaged in any way. Checking if the wheel lugs are fastened properly is also an important factor not to be missed.


Before sloshing about in the mud while imagining yourself as an expert dirt biker, the steering should be checked for any signs that it is not ready to take the abuse.
Just make a few turns either way; if it feels too tight or too loose, make the necessary repairs first. Also, check if the essential controls, i.e. the lights, the indicators etc., are working properly.


Imagine getting stranded in a mud patch because the battery died, and the engine can't burn fuel any more!
Nothing more annoying than a failed battery, and nothing more tiring than pushing a heavy ATV with a dead battery. Try out the electric items on the vehicle, such as the horn or the headlight.
If either of the two is weak, it may be a problem with the horn or light itself (which is a big deal anyway), or a warning sign that the battery is about to breathe its last.

Chain / Driveshaft

ATVs use chains or driveshafts, which should be maintained in perfect condition always.
Driveshafts can't be checked without the specified equipment, but chains should be checked for lubrication, deformations, and tightness.
Riding an ATV is a fantastic experience, but staying safe is more important. All these basic checks can go a long way towards reducing the chances of an unfortunate tragedy, and thus must be performed before riding an ATV.