Hunters use their ATVs and UTVs heavily during the season, and should take time beforehand to do needed maintenance. The lull between deer and turkey seasons is rapidly approaching, so get ready now to prep your machinery for the next season.

Right now is the time for a comprehensive checklist of ATV inspections and maintenance checks. Don’t delay on this or you may find yourself stranded far from camp. Be sure to check over everything on your machine or just take it in to a local reliable dealer or repair shop for a complete checkup.

Friend Gary retrieved his ATV from storage under a shed at camp. One tire was already flat and from last year there was a terrible grinding noise somewhere in the rear end. I helped him take the unit to my 4-wheeler mechanic. Within a day, Steve called to say the tire was beyond repair and the rear brakes were shot. He got the brakes fixed to stop the noise, but Gary is still trying to get the tire fixed or replaced.

Last season my own 2000 Honda 450ES was barely running. It was hard to crank and hard to keep running. After the season was over I left it at my mechanic. He rebuilt the carburetor which was way past due. He said the longtime use of ethanol fuel had finally degraded the seals and rubber parts in the carb. I have now switched exclusively to non-ethanol gas and regularly put in a gas additive to take out moisture and gummy grime. Now it runs like a top.

Before the season, change the oil and oil filter. Clean or replace the air breather filter. Charge the battery and tighten its connections. Make sure brakes work. Check headlights and tail lights. Inspect tires for wear, cracks, or worn valves. Air them up to proper inflation. If you have an ATV rack gear box, add a can of tire repair for emergency field use.

If you haul your ATV on a towed trailer, inspect it, too. Same for loading ramps and security straps. Use extra safety and care in driving an ATV up a loading ramp. Secure the machine to hold down points in the bed with quality straps front and rear.

Going through an ATV checklist now just could very well save you a breakdown in the field. When you’re trying to hunt is no time to have to worry about ATV maintenance.

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