The top 5 ways to maintain your side-by-side or ATV
Regular maintenance is the key to getting the most out of your ATV or side-by-side. Read on to find out more about choosing the right oil, coolant, and other essential maintenance tips to follow the proper upkeep schedule…
1. ENGINE OIL
First up… Engine oil. The oil that lubricates your side-by-side (SXS) or ATV engine runs at high temperatures and high RPM, operating under intense use for concentrated periods. To compensate for this demand, ATV and SXS-specific engine oil has special additives to dissipate heat and maintain consistency over longer use than standard vehicle oil.
Oil is vital for allowing the moving parts of an engine to function properly, and when you consider the extra work and wide range of conditions a SXS/ATV oil is subjected to, maintaining its oil level and changing it consistently is essential. Check the level of your engine oil before every ride or long days out on the fields and top it up if necessary. Consistently dropping oil levels may indicate a leak in the system, which should be promptly investigated and mitigated. A rising oil level, meanwhile, may indicate a buildup of contaminants in the oil sump or the crankcase, which also should be promptly dealt with.
Speaking of contaminants—byproducts of combustion, dirt, and other material are among the main reasons oil needs to be changed regularly. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended schedule; normal ATV or SxS use often requires an oil change every six months, 100 driving hours, or 1,000 miles. Your owner’s manual will also indicate the oil capacity for your particular machine. It should also suggest when the oil should be changed during the break-in period of a new engine.
Each Polaris model has its own type of engine oil which is listed in its owner manual and is widely available from Polaris dealers across the UK.
2. OIL FILTERS
Premium oils specially designed for ATVs and side-by-sides don’t do much good without the proper high-quality oil filters. The filter should be changed with every oil change, following the same maintenance schedule as the oil itself.
3. TRANSMISSION FLUID
As with motor oil, refer to your owner’s manual to select the best lubricant for your ATV or SXS transmission. It’s never a bad idea to check the transmission fluid level and appearance before each ride. The fluid should be somewhat clear; clouded or dark transmission fluid indicates contamination—potentially metal flakes from normal clutch/transmission wear that over time can cause significant damage— and should be changed out. A typical interval for changing transmission fluid in your ATV or SxS is 100 hours (or 1,000 miles, or every year—whatever comes first).
4. DEMAND DRIVE FLUIDS
The Demand Drive fluid recommended for POLARIS ATVs and side-by-sides is a lubricant for the front gearcase. These machines typically deal with extreme torque and heavy loads, requiring specialised front drive oil. The schedule for changing this lubricant is generally the same as for the transmission oil: 100 hours, 12 months, or 1,000 miles. And here again, periodically check the level and study the appearance of the front gearcase oil to identify potential leaks or premature contamination.
The coolant for your four-wheeler actually does more than the crucial work of keeping the engine cool: It also helps lubricate some internal components.
As we’ve already spelled out in the oil section, the intense conditions and loads under which SXS/ATV engines operate mean you really have to be diligent about maintaining adequate levels of the recommended coolant. Check the level before each and every ride and add coolant to the overflow bottle if necessary. You should check the coolant level in the radiator itself if the overflow reservoir is completely dry, which is a potential sign of a leak somewhere in the system. Periodically take a look at the radiator cap as well to make sure it’s in good condition. A degraded or poor-sealing cap will throw off the pressurization of the cooling system, which needless to say is not something you want to let go unattended. Whether to check the cap itself or the level of fluid in the radiator, only remove the radiator cap when the engine is cool.
Typically, your ATV or SXS coolant should be changed every 60 months.
Sticking to the recommended maintenance intervals laid out in your owner’s manual for all five aspects mentioned above is an easy way to maximise your chances of keeping your ATV or SXS running smoothly for the long term. Keep in mind that the kind of riding you do will influence this timetable; more intense or severe use of your machine warrants more frequent assessments and service. That kind of use includes regular recreational off-roading, racing, and the kind of high-load and low-speed operations often involved in farm work. So, check out your Polaris owner’s manual and perform routine checks so that, no matter what task is at hand, you’ll be ready.
If you want to take maintenance one step further, why not add your Polaris to your list of things to spring clean? Take a look at our top tips for cleaning your side-by-side or ATV here…