While some people power their 4-wheelers through any type of weather thrown at them, others prefer to save their favorite motorized outdoor activity for sunshine and warmer days. Alas, fall is over. It was fun while it lasted, but sometimes it’s best to store and winterize your 4 wheelers until the fairer months of spring return.
Just like any vehicle that sits unused for some time, some preparation is necessary to make sure it will fire up for you when you’re ready. Here’s a checklist to let your monster hibernate in peace over the winter.
1- First, Check your Manufacturer’s Guide
Some winterizing steps are universal, and some will be specific to your vehicle’s make and model. When in doubt, check with the manufacturer as they will know what’s best for your 4 wheeler.
2- Clean It
Typically, mud and dirt sprayed all over your 4 wheeler are signs of a successful day of riding and should be worn with pride. But not over the winter. Then you just look like a slob who doesn’t care about their expensive toys. Mud, leaves, and bugs left to sit on your vehicle can destroy the paint finish and upholstery, as well as corrode engine parts. Not only that but the longer that mud is left to cement on your vehicle the harder it will be to get off.
Do both you and your 4 wheeler a favor by giving it a thorough wash before storing it. Lubricate chains and moving parts that are prone to rust. Get out the WD40 and a rag and wipe down upholstery, plastic parts, and exhaust pipes.
3- Deal with the Gas
There are differing schools of thought when it comes to the problem of storing gas. While it’s true that old gas can gunk up an engine, does that mean that you should drain what’s left in the tank? Not necessarily. Empty metal gas tanks can be prone to rust, but plastic gas tanks can deteriorate if left filled with gas for a long time. This is an excellent place to consult with your manufacturer’s guide or check with the dealer in your local area. How you should proceed depends on the make of your vehicle and what the climate is like where you live. In general, metal gas tanks shouldn’t be left empty over the winter. Fill it up, and put in a fuel stabilizer. Run the engine for a bit to get the stabilizer through the fuel system.
4- Change the Oil and Filter
If you’ve recently changed your oil, then you’re probably okay to let it sit for a few months until spring. Otherwise, old oil isn’t good to sit in your 4 wheeler for a long time either. The dirty by-products can collect and corrode engine parts. Change the oil and oil filter before you store your vehicle so you can save time later and won’t have to worry about dirty oil ruining your engine.
5- Disconnect the Battery
Even an idle 4 wheeler in storage can pull electricity from your battery leaving you with a dud when you’re ready to start it up in the spring. This is especially true for newer models with gadgets, clocks, and radios. When winterizing your 4 wheeler pull the battery out and connect it to a trickle charger in your garage. A trickle charger will maintain the charge and extend the life of your battery at the same time.
Tires will slowly deflate over time, so inflate your tires to the maximum capacity when winterizing your 4 wheeler. Elevate your 4 wheeler on blocks to take the pressure off your tires. Prolonged pressure on idle tires can lead to uneven or flat spots which will damage the tires. If you can’t elevate your 4 wheeler, then it’s a good idea to rotate your tires once a month to try to even the pressure out.
7-Where to Store it?
Now that you’ve taken the time and care to winterize your 4 wheeler properly, it’s time to decide, if you haven’t already, on the right place to store it for the next several months. A locked garage is the best case scenario. Enclosing your 4 wheeler in a building to protect it from the rain and snow will do more to extend the life of your expensive recreational vehicle more than any other step on this list. If you don’t have a garage, a covered carport will work too. If neither of these is available, then you’ll want to invest in a good tarp to cover it and ropes or bungee cords to secure it in place. Don’t forget to stuff a rag into the exhaust pipe, or cover it with an exhaust cover to keep animals and debris from falling in. Put down a parking mat to protect the floor or driveway from oil leaks.
One of the many good things about renting with a peer storage host is that you won’t be locked into a year-long contract like you would with a commercial storage facility. You can rent it anywhere from one month to several months.
Another option is to find a garage for rent. Renting a garage from a peer-to-peer storage host like Hopperstock is more affordable than you might think. One of the many good things about renting with a peer storage host is that you won’t be locked into a year-long contract like you would with a commercial storage facility. You can rent it anywhere from one month to several months. When scanning the databank of available garages make sure you look at the dimensions of the garage and the know the size of your four-wheeler. Also, make sure the garage has properly locking doors. After spending so much effort taking care of your vehicle, the last thing you want is for someone to steal it. Talk to the storage host, tell them your plans for storing a 4 wheeler and ask questions.