When to Change ATV Oil & Biggest Mistakes to Avoid


Changing your ATV oil on time is essential to keeping the engine in top shape. If the oil is not changed on time, then you will have to deal with serious engine problems that will cost a fortune on repairs.

ATV oil needs to be changed every 100 hours if you are a casual rider. If you ride the four-wheeler on rough terrains, then you will need to change the ATV oil at the 70 to 80 hour mark. The tell-tale signs that your ATV needs to be changed are a dark color, weird engine noise, low performance, and obviously, a low oil level indicator.

Now that you know it’s essential to change your ATV oil regularly, the question that remains is how to do it and what mistakes you need to avoid. So, let’s gear up and learn the ins and outs of proper ATV oil maintenance.

How Often to Change Your ATV Oil?

pouring oil

Right from the start, I need to highlight that there is not a one-size-fits-all answer for how often to change your ATV oil. The frequency can depend on how hard you ride, the conditions you’re tackling, and what the manufacturer recommends. A good rule of thumb is to change the oil every 100 hours of ride time or at least once a year, whichever comes first. But if you’re constantly pushing your ATV to the limits, you might need to do it more often.

In general, it’s best to change the oil every 100 hours if you ride in normal conditions. If you are often riding on challenging terrains and bad weather conditions, then you should do it more frequently. I recommend changing the quad’s oil every 70-80 hours. Remember, these are just guidelines. Always check your ATV’s manual for the final word on oil change intervals. It’s your go-to resource for keeping your ride in prime condition.

Why It’s Important to Change ATV Oil Regularly

Think of regular oil changes as your ATV’s personal fitness routine—it keeps everything running at its best. Old oil can gather dirt and debris, which spells trouble for your engine. It can wear down engine parts, reduce performance, and even lead to engine failure. Not what you want when you’re miles from the nearest road.

Regular oil changes keep your engine clean and well-lubricated, reducing friction and preventing overheating. It’s like giving your ATV a fresh dose of energy, ready to tackle whatever trail or task you throw at it. Plus, it’s a great way to spot potential issues before they turn into costly repairs.

How Do You Determine if Your ATV Needs an Oil Change

Knowing when your ATV is thirsty for an oil change doesn’t require a mechanic’s know-how—it’s all about staying alert to what your ATV is telling you. First off, the oil itself is a tell-tale sign. If it’s lost its golden or amber transparency and turned into a dark, thick sludge, it’s time for a change. This darkening is a clear indicator that your oil has been contaminated with dirt, dust, and engine grime, which can happen pretty quickly if you’re a regular on dusty trails or muddy tracks.

Another clue is the oil level. If it’s consistently low or you’re topping it off more than usual, it’s a signal that your ATV is either burning oil too fast or there’s a leak—both scenarios warrant a closer look. Here’s a quick checklist to help you decide if it’s time for a change:

  • Visual Inspection: Check the oil’s color and consistency.
  • Oil Level Check: Monitor the oil level on the dipstick; low levels could indicate leaks.
  • Performance Check: Notice any changes in your ATV’s performance.
  • Engine Noise: Listen for any knocking or ticking sounds from the engine.
  • Riding Conditions: Consider if you’ve been riding in harsh conditions recently.
  • Time Since Last Change: Has it been a while since your last oil change?

How to Change ATV Oil

Difference between ATV Oil and Car Oil

Changing the oil in your ATV is a key task that can keep your machine in prime condition. It’s a simple process that doesn’t require much time or a garage full of tools. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you through it:

First, gather your supplies. You’ll need the right type of oil, a new oil filter, a wrench, an oil pan, and some rags for cleanup. Make sure your ATV is on a flat surface and the engine is cool before you start.

  1. Locate the Oil Drain Plug: This is usually under the ATV. Place your oil pan beneath it.
  2. Remove the Drain Plug: Use your wrench to loosen and remove the drain plug. Let the old oil flow out into the pan.
  3. Remove the Old Oil Filter: While the oil is draining, remove the old oil filter. Some oil might spill out, so have your rags ready.
  4. Install the New Oil Filter: Once the oil has drained, replace the drain plug and install the new oil filter. Make sure it’s secured tightly.
  5. Add New Oil: Find the oil filler cap, remove it, and pour in the new oil. Check your ATV’s manual for the correct amount.
  6. Check the Oil Level: After adding oil, use the dipstick to check the level. Make sure it’s within the safe range.

Once you’ve completed these steps, start your ATV and let it run for a few minutes. This circulates the new oil. Turn off the engine and check the oil level again, adding more if necessary. Also, inspect for any leaks. If everything looks good, you’ve successfully changed your ATV’s oil! For the best results, always refer to your ATV’s manual for the recommended oil type and change intervals.

Can You Use Regular Oil for ATVs?

When it comes to the lifeblood of your ATV’s engine, not just any oil will do. Sure, it might be tempting to grab that bottle of regular car oil you’ve got sitting on the shelf but resist the urge. ATVs are beasts of a different nature—they run hotter and work harder than your average car, especially when they’re hitting those off-road challenges. Regular car oil isn’t formulated to handle the high-stress conditions of ATV riding, which can lead to inadequate lubrication and, ultimately, engine damage. Read more about the differences between ATV oil and regular oil.

So, what’s the best type of oil for your quad? You’ll want to look for oils that are specifically formulated for ATVs or motorcycles. These oils are designed to protect against the high temperatures and unique demands of your ATV’s engine. They often include additives that help keep your engine clean and free from sludge and deposits.

Here’s a breakdown of what to look for:

  • Synthetic Oils: These are engineered to perform and protect at a wide range of temperatures and are great for reducing engine wear.
  • Mineral Oils: A more budget-friendly option, but may not offer the same level of protection as synthetics, especially under extreme conditions.
  • Semi-Synthetic Oils: These offer a good middle ground, with some of the performance benefits of synthetic oils but at a lower cost.

Wrapping It Up

In the end, keeping your ATV’s oil fresh is a simple but powerful way to ensure your rides are always epic. Don’t cut corners on oil changes—it’s not worth the risk to your engine or your adventures. Stay on top of maintenance, use the right oil, and your ATV will thank you with years of reliable, rip-roaring fun.

Before you hit the trails again, give your ATV a little TLC with a fresh oil change. It’s an easy step that makes a big difference. And if you’re looking for the best products to keep your ATV running like a dream, we’ve got you covered with options that are just a click away. Keep riding, keep exploring, and most importantly, keep your ATV’s engine purring with the right care.

Bob Kelly

Hey there, my name is Bob and I've been riding ATVs, dirt bikes, and UTVs for most of my life. Going on outdoor adventures has always been my passion. I love sharing tips and tricks with beginners who are getting ready to join the world of outdoor enthusiasts. You can reach me at bobtheatvguy@gmail.com if you want to get in touch.

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