MAINTENANCE ISSUES: Changing the oil in ATVs, Scooters and Motorcycles
At ATV Wholesale Outlet Inc, we keep the service department busy doing routine maintenance, basic repairs on banged-up vehicles and electrical issues. Unfortunately burnt up motors are large parts of what we see quite often. Most of these destroyed motors are due to owner neglect or careless operation of the vehicle, in other words self-inflicted damage.
We have a disclosure that we have all our buyers of new vehicles sign explaining how and how often to change their oil. Yes, big repairs like blown up engines make good money for our company, but, it still is not something we like to see. We do our best to educate our customers so we would never have to replace an engine again. We would rather make our money doing regular maintenance and oil changes.
Keep in mind: Oil Change is probably the #1 most important thing you can do to make your engine last a long time. But there many are other things that need checking, adjusting, and replacing as well, like valve adjustment, spark plug checking and possible replacement, air and fuel filter replacement, tire pressure checking, tire tread inspection, making sure all cables are lubed and chains are still good, and lubed, final drive gear oil checking and replacing, brake pads and fluid checking and replacing, CVT belt checking and replacing, and many more items.
Why is regular oil change necessary?
Dirt, carbon, partly burnt gasoline, water, and even shavings from the engine are collecting in your oil every time you go out. These contaminants float around in the vehicles life blood, Oil, and are washed over all the moving parts again and again. This is like finely grinding up your garbage from home, and dumping it into your blood stream.
When/how often should I change the oil?
Some recommendations are for every 600 miles or 100 hours. That’s probably better advice than “end of your riding season,” because some use their vehicles daily over many miles and others bring it out a few times in a “season.” What’s a season? That varies by rider habits and local climate. If you are a racer, it is probably a good idea to change oil after every race.
I have another rule of thumb for determining when an oil change should happen. Pull the dipstick, wipe off the oil onto a white paper towel, and look at the thickness, and color. If it is past yellow and getting into brown, then change it. When it is dark brown or black, you are in the extremely dangerous area, and may have already caused damage.
What kind of oil should I use in my ATV?
We recommend high quality 10/40 mineral oil-based oils in our Chinese made vehicles, and here’s why: synthetic oils damage piston rings, valves, bearings and more for the older type engines. Synthetic oils are more expensive and are not designed for the older technology engines.
Still, it’s a good idea to follow whatever the vehicle manufacturer recommends. Some vehicles can use something other than what is normal, and using an improper oil can lead to engine damage.
It’s also a good idea to check and change the rear end or final drive oil/lube every few thousand miles. At the very least, have the oil level checked. A dry rear end, and cause huge damage.
How do I change the oil?
First I would say, ask the dealer where you bought the vehicle, or go to the internet for “Do It Yourself Videos”. Maybe even check with your owner’s manual. If you do not feel comfortable doing the job, then take it to a qualified mechanic to make sure it is done correctly.
It’s a very easy process if you are mechanical, but you will need to locate several items before you get started.
Locate, and be ready to pull out the drain plug under your motor.
There may be several bolts under your vehicles motor that could confuses you as to what bolt is the actual drain plug. Check your owner’s manual for this, or ask the dealer where you bought the vehicle to point out the correct plug.
Have a drain pan ready and under your vehicle, and make sure the bike is standing level for the draining process.
Drain the old oil into the pan, and let the vehicle sit to drain all it can for roughly 10 minutes.
Put the drain plug/bolt back in the motor, and make sure you have a tight fit. No leaking.
Fill the oil until the site glass or dip stick say that it is up to the full mark.
What do I do with the old oil?
Collect it in a clean leak proof container and drop it off at a recycling center, service station or auto parts store that is a dirty/used oil collection station.
PLEASE Do No Dump your dirty oil in the drain, or a garbage can. Dirty oil is a horrible contaminant and contains many unhealthy chemicals that are dangerous for people, plants and animals.
Another reason proper disposal and recycling this old oil is important? Motor oil does not wear out; it just gets dirty, so recycling reduces the need for new oil. Used oil can be turned into fuel oils or used as a raw material for the refining and petrochemical industries. Recycling reduces pollution of lakes, streams and rivers. Oil contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals that pollute surface water and groundwater and endanger human and environmental health.
Please be responsible, and do not ignore regular maintenance of your vehicle. The factory does not produce a maintenance list in the owner’s manual just to make money. It’s made to help you keep the vehicle running good and dependably for many years to come. A poorly maintained vehicle will sell for less money, break down more often than normal, and could possibly be dangerous to ride.