How to Inspect Your ATV's Steering
No matter how new or old your ATV might be, having a maintenance checklist is an important part of responsible ATV ownership and riding. Before hitting the trail, you have to perform a pre-ride inspection to determine which parts may need to be adjusted, aligned, lubricated, tightened, or even replaced. Of all the items you should check regularly on your ATV, the steering is one of the most important and often overlooked. Some of the small items in an ATV’s steering assembly, such as the ball joints, tie rod ends, and wheel bearings, can wear pretty fast on a machine that is used often. Fortunately, this guide will teach you the basics of inspecting your ATV’s steering to provide the peace of mind that comes with knowing your favorite machine is in tip-top shape and ready for the trail.
How to Inspect Your ATV’s Steering
Ready to start inspecting the steering mechanism of your all-terrain vehicle? Find a level spot in your garage or the driveway. Place some kind of wheel chocks behind the rear wheels to keep the vehicle from rolling away, especially on a slope. Using a jack with an appropriate capacity, lift the machine up using the center of the chassis in the front. Place the jack on the flattest part of the chassis up front but far enough back so that it doesn’t slide back once it is lifted in the air. Lift the ATV so that the wheels are barely off the ground and they can spin freely. Put both hands on each wheel, at approximately the 9 and 3 o’ clock positions. Gently push the wheel to the front and back, simulating the steering motion. You will want to look for any troublesome signs, such as looseness. Place your hand at the 12 o’ clock position on the wheel and push in at the top to reveal loose wheel bearings. If there is any movement at the slightest touch, you may have a wheel bearing issue on your hands. You should also hold the upper and lower control arms to the wheel hub or steering knuckle, pull out, and push in at the bottom of the wheel to observe the arms and reveal loose ball joints. Don’t forget to check the interior side of your wheels where they connect to the ATV for damage or weathering.
Bad Ball Joints: A ball joint is the part of a steering mechanism that connects the ATV’s wheels to the suspension system. More specifically, the ball joints connect the control arm of an ATV to the steering knuckle. As with all ATV parts, ball joints can wear out fast due to extreme weight or regular use. Bad ball joints may produce clunking noises that come from the front suspension that get continuously louder until they completely fail and break. If you start to notice uneven tire wear or that your steering wheel is wandering to the side, your ball joints may need to be replaced.
Tie Rod Ends: When the tie rod ends in the steering mechanism of an all-terrain vehicle start wearing down, it is practically guaranteed that mysterious noises are soon to follow. These internal components are the part of a steering mechanism that transmit force from the steering center link to the steering knuckle, causing the wheels to turn. When the tie rod ends are on their last leg, they may have a drastic effect on handling and overall stability. A worn-out tie rod end can mess with the suspension’s geometry, cause the wheels to fall out of sync, produce a popping sound on hard turns, and make the steering seem loose or shaky at times. You might also have trouble maintaining a straight line. Should you start noticing any of these symptoms, it is time to replace your failing tie rod ends with an OEM equivalent.
Wheel Bearings: Wobbly wheels can quickly ruin a perfect good day on the trail, but they can also increase the potential for accidents and injuries. A bad wheel bearing typically produces a snapping clinking noise, especially when making sharp turns. Occasionally, a bad wheel bearing can make a harsh grinding sound or rumbling noise that is caused by vibration or damage and calls for immediate replacement. If your ATV tends to pull to the side when braking, this may mean that your calipers are defective or the wheel bearing is excessively loose. Uneven tire wear and wobbly tired are also tell-tale signs that your bearings need attention. Luckily, replacing your wheel bearings is relatively simple!
When you need nothing but the best in affordability and quality to meet the needs of your particular ATV model and year, we have all those needs covered with a vast selection of OEM parts for Can-Am all-terrain vehicles. If you have any questions about inspecting your ATV’s steering or need help finding the right replacement parts, please feel free to contact Can-Am Parts Nation today for additional information or further assistance. We are happy to help!