Common Oil Change Mistakes
Of all the tasks on your ATV maintenance schedule, changing the oil should rank highest on the list. You should always check the fluid levels before taking your ATV for a ride and change the fluids as needed. Over time, oil can become contaminated by tiny particles of dirt, metal, and other substances. Although the oil filter is designed to tackle any issues that can come from contamination, but the filter can't do its job properly if the oil isn't regularly changed. Without new oil or proper filtration, you can wreak havoc on your internal engine components. Although changing your oil is relatively simple and straightforward, you will want to avoid common oil change mistakes that many novices make. If you are determined to change the oil on your own, this guide will give you a few considerations and hazards to keep in mind.
Common Oil Change Mistakes
Keeping Track of Oil Changes: Unless you frequently ride through puddles, rivers, and streams, you should always change the oil after a certain number of miles or a certain number of months. When you fail to keep track of how many miles you've ridden in the off-road since last changing the oil in your ATV, you may be in for a bit of trouble. Changing the oil too soon or too late can damage the engine. If you wait too long to change the oil, you might cause long-term problems or even total engine failure. You should change your oil at least once every month or every 50 hours if you ride on a regular basis. If you don't ride your ATV very often, you should change the oil at least once every year.
Using the Wrong Oil: Depending on the model and type of ATV you own, you will need to find an oil with the right viscosity for the season. Using conventional oil or synthetic oil on the wrong engine can do more harm than good. In warm weather, you need a thick oil. In cold weather, you need a thin oil, because oil thickens. As a rule of thumb, the oil has to be able to flow through the engine in order to keep all the internal components properly lubricated. If the engine is new, you can probably use either conventional or synthetic oil. If the engine is old, you should only use the type of oil it requires. As always, you should consult your owner's manual to see what the manufacturer recommends.
Putting the Filter On Incorrectly: As we mentioned before, the oil filter of an ATV helps remove the contaminants that accumulate over time in your engine oil. When an oil filter is installed incorrectly or you choose the wrong size, it can put your engine at risk. Once you tighten the oil filter by hand, you should take an oil wrench and give it a quarter turn to tighten the filter all the way. Over-tightening the oil filter may strip the threading or even break the O-ring.
Not Changing Out the O-Ring: An O-ring is a doughnut-shaped seal that is used to block the passage of oil when it is pressed between two mating surfaces. Most oil filters come with O-rings that are meant to go on top of the filter and act as a seal. Over time, the O-ring in your ATV can wear out or break relatively quickly. Every time you change the oil filter cartridge, you should also be changing the O-ring on a regular basis. Lubricate the O-ring with some of the oil before you start to tighten the filter into place. Lubrication will help the O-ring survive the initial torque from tightening.
Over or Under Filling the Oil: Once the oil is drained and the oil filter has been changed out, it is finally time to put the new oil in. However, you have to be careful of putting too little or too much oil. Underfilling the oil will mess with the hydraulic pressure and lubrication of the engine's internal components. Overfilling the oil poses the risk of foaming up inside the engine and reducing hydraulic pressure. Check the owner's manual to determine how many quarts of oil it takes to fill the tank. Instead of filling to the maximum line, fill the tank to just beneath the maximum line.
Maintaining an ATV engine can seem like a big job, which is why many ATV owners take their machines to trained professionals. However, you can safely and successfully change your ATV's oil at home by keeping these common oil change mistakes in mind. Can-Am Parts Nation offers an extensive selection of engine parts and accessories for a wide variety of Can-Am ATV models. If you have any questions about this guide or would like help finding the right oil for your Can-Am ATV model, please feel free to contact us for additional information.