7 Easy De-Winterizing Steps For Your Motorcycle, ATV, or Side-by-Side/UTV
Spring is right around the corner, and soon, the snow will melt, songbirds will chirp, and it’ll be time to take to the open road or trail again. After a long winter season where our motorcycles, ATVs, Side-by-Sides, and other Powersports vehicles sat parked in hibernation, we’ll need to do our due diligence and de-winterize them before pulling them out of cold storage and going for a ride.
If you followed our handy Winterizing 101 guide, then you’re ahead of the curve. For everyone else, we’ll cover how to get your machine running like a top in a few easy steps.
Of course, de-winterizing is made that much easier if we’ve all been astute owners and winterized our beloved toys. The reality is de-winterizing follows the same protocols that any rider or driver should take to prepare their vehicle’s roadworthiness after sitting under the covers for an extended time. You can utilize these procedures when buying pre-owned bikes or cars laid up for a while.
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Things like fuel pumps, fuel filters, inlet strainers, fuel pressure regulators, O-rings can break down over time, especially when a vehicle isn’t being run regularly. Regardless of how well we maintain our vehicles, any fuel system needs to be inspected, cared for, and serviced. QFS offers everything you’ll need to complete the job in our massive catalog.
While this isn’t a time-consuming process, you’ll want to dedicate a few hours to complete de-winterizing like a pro.
Detective Work: Grab Some Shop Rags and Get on with the Inspections
Always start with the easy stuff. While it seems like you’ll only be spending time giving everything a spit shine, this step is one of the most crucial. Begin by pulling fairings and wiping all the critical components of your vehicle down. Keenly inspect for any trouble spots.
Over a long winter or storage period, cracks can form in rubber cooling hoses, seals could have failed, allowing fluids to weep or leak, and unnoticed wear and tear can be spotted before it becomes a potential hazard.
The tell-tale sign of a leak will be drips of fluid beneath or dribbling down various components. Take special care when wiping down, paying extra attention to suspension and engine components. Likewise, inspect your entire braking system by starting at the master cylinder and working your way down to the calipers or drums.
For anything with an advanced ABS, you might not be able to do that quickly, but run a rag over every major connection to make sure they’re fastened properly and not leaking.
Curious critters enjoy nesting in vehicles during the winter. So, break out a flashlight and peek into every nook and cranny. We always recommend plugging exhaust outlets when storing any vehicle, so be sure to go through and remove all those protection bits.
Sound-damping materials inside bodywork, mufflers, and airboxes serve as 5-star accommodations for any rodent. You’ll need to ensure no animals or insect colonies now call your machine home. This is a crucial step as a favorite pastime for rodents is chewing into wiring harnesses, which will cause numerous headaches down the road.
Once again, if you’ve been a diligent owner, you’ve already restricted access for our furry friends. You’ll need to reverse the process and be well on your way to your next ride or drive.
Get Charged Up
Batteries can be fickle. They don’t like being stored in the cold or sitting around unused for extended periods. This is valid for old-school lead-acid or lightweight lithium-ion types. The winter months mean you’re combining its two most minor factor activities, and the only workaround is to maintain proper voltage with a battery tender.
If you didn’t, don’t fret! Just pop it on a charger; if it’s not too far gone, it’ll be ready for action soon enough.
Fluid Levels, Lubricants, and Air Filters
It is imperative to thoroughly check and confirm that all your vehicle’s fluid and lubricants are at their proper levels. Beyond that, consider the age of coolant, engine/transmission oils, and brake fluid. Even if you haven’t achieved mileage that would warrant a change typically, refreshing these fluids yearly isn’t a bad habit. This can be done at the start of your riding season.
Brake fluid is hydroscopic and absorbs moisture, which lowers its efficacy over time. If your brake reservoir looks brown instead of a golden hue, then it’s time to refresh it.
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On the same note, air filters must be regularly checked, cleaned, and reoiled to ensure they capture particulates. Once again, doing this at least once a year is a good practice, even if you haven’t racked up miles.
Cleaning and lubricating your vehicle’s chain final drive will help prevent premature rusting. Our Winterizing 101 guide explained that parking a motorcycle or ATV with a thoroughly lubricated chain will prevent rust and keep the o-rings in good health. For those that didn’t, now is the time to break out those brushes. Make that chain shine, and give it a good coat of lubricant.
The Right Rubber
Tires age naturally. While properly kept tires can last for several years, those living in icy environments will want to inspect their tires for any cracking thoroughly. In some cases, a tire can be adversely affected by freezing temperatures. The tire can become brittle and break down.
If you see any signs of cracking due to age or cold temperatures, it’s time to replace those rubbery hoops.
What’s Inside Your Tank?
When prepping your vehicle for winterization or long-term storage, you have two fuel-related choices: Drain the tank or add a fuel stabilizer. Those that choose fuel stabilizers can turn the key, start the engine, and burn through what they have available.
However, if you leave fuel in your tank for several months, it is wise to drain the tank and replace it with fresh gas. Fuel varnish and fuel separation can occur, which will cause poor engine performance or gunk up critical components.
It’s also a good idea to peek inside the fuel tank with a flashlight and inspect if your filters are in decent health. Make sure no debris has accumulated inside the tank. Remember, QFS has fuel pumps, strainers, and filters ready for nearly every make and model on the market.
Fire It Up!
Ah, you’ve checked all the fluids, oils, and lubricants or changed them. You’ve gone over every inch of your motorcycle, ATV, or Side-by-Side and made sure that everything is in working order. The battery is charged, there’s fuel in the tank, and you’re ready to go!
Once you’ve gone through this essential de-winterization checklist, it’s time to go for a decent ride or drive to get the engine up to proper operating temperature. Simply starting an engine and idling for a bit won’t do, as moisture from the air inside your engine’s crankcase will create condensation. To avoid that issue, bring your vehicle’s engine up to the full operating temperature, where it will evaporate.
Pulling a motorcycle, ATV, or Side-by-Side/UTV out of storage for the first time also requires care for both rider and machine. It’s been months since you last rode, so take things slow and get back into the swing of things. Likewise, hammering an engine immediately isn’t the best way to treat anything.
Need New Fuel System Parts to Help You De-winterize? We’ve Got You Covered!
Quantum Fuel Systems is open Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. PT. Our helpful staff can take your order over the phone or place an order via our extensive catalog. Be sure to use our support page for any detailed technical questions, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.