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A utility or sports quad can last for more than a decade, but only if it’s frequently serviced. That’s why it’s important to know how to clean an ATV engine since failing to do so can shorten the vehicle’s lifespan.
It is important to distinguish between the cleaning of external and internal parts of the engine, as these are two very different processes. However, I don’t recommend cleaning the internal parts of your ATV’s engine before consulting with your mechanic.
On the other hand, cleaning the engine’s exterior is a straightforward process that doesn’t take too much time or effort. So, in this article, I am going to show you how to clean an ATV engine and recommend several products you can use to remove different types of dirt.
Go through our guide to the best ATVs to learn more about the best models on the market.
Signs That Your ATV’s Needs Cleaning
A simple visual inspection should be enough to determine if your ATV’s engine needs cleaning. Mud and dust accumulation will change the color of the engine’s exterior so that a dirty engine will have a brownish color instead of silver metallic.
Most engine blocks are made of cast aluminum, so the product you choose to clean a cast-aluminum engine mustn’t have corrosive properties. Scratching this material is relatively easy, and you shouldn’t use hard brushes during the cleaning process as they might scratch the engine’s surface.
You will notice a broad spectrum of symptoms that range from improper heat disposal to lower fuel mileage if the internal components of ATV’s engine are dirty. You shouldn’t ignore the vehicle’s engine power and performance loss, as failing to address these issues can damage the engine permanently.
Go through our guide to ATV replacement parts if you need to replace one or more of your quad’s original components.
Cleaning The Inside of an ATV Engine
Hiring a mechanic to clean an ATV’s engine can cost more than $700, which is the reason why some quad owners prefer to go through this process alone. Dirty engine oil is one of the most obvious signs that the engine needs cleaning.
Also, you have to check if the air filter is dirty to ensure that the air that goes into the engine doesn’t contain pollutants. Oil for ATV engines contains cleaning detergents that dissolve sludge and carbon buildup generated by fuel combustion.
Nonetheless, frequent oil changes are sometimes not enough to remove carbon deposits from the engine. Aside from changing the air filter and the engine oil, you can also use motor treatment products to clean the interior of an ATV engine. Here’s how you can use oil additives to get rid of carbon deposits.
- Step 1 – Switch on your quad and let it run for approximately ten minutes to warm up its engine oil. Next, go through the owner’s manual to find out the location of the vehicle’s oil drain plug, then remove this plug and drain the old oil. Don’t forget to take off the oil filter after draining the oil.
- Step 2 – Get a bottle of cheap ATV oil that will help you dissolve and collect the carbon residue in the engine. You should also buy an oil additive like Marvel Mystery Oil or Sea Foam. Proceed to return the oil drain plug in its place and add the recommended amounts of engine oil and motor treatment product.
- Step 3 – Start the vehicle’s engine and let it run for up to ten minutes, then switch off the quad and let it cool down. Open the oil drain plug again and drain the oil. Afterward, you can add the oil you’re normally using to the engine and continue using your vehicle.
You should replace the air filter every time you add new oil to the engine, usually after 300 miles. Nonetheless, it is advisable to check if the air filter is clean whenever you ride your ATV through mud, sand, or other types of challenging terrains.
Read our guide to the best ATV gear if you need riding equipment or ATV clothing.
Reasons to Flush an ATV Engine
Besides motor treatment, you can also use engine flush products to break up carbon deposits and flush them out of the system.
The application method depends on the product you decide to use, but in most cases, you’ll have to add a small amount of this fluid to the engine oil and then let the engine run for a while before removing the old oil from the engine.
These products can damage engine seals and cause oil leaks, so you shouldn’t use them before consulting a mechanic. In most cases, it is easier to remove the engine from the vehicle, clean it thoroughly, and put it back on than risking damaging it with strong chemicals.
Go through our guide to the best ATV tires for snow if you’re planning to use your ATV during the winter season.
Cleaning The ATV Engine’s Exterior
Unlike the process of cleaning the engine interior, cleaning the exterior of an ATV engine doesn’t require any technical knowledge. You need to know which cleaning product to use and then apply it to the parts of the engine you want to clean.
The cleaner you choose should be able to degrease a surface and remove grime without facilitating corrosion. Most products recommended for cleaning ATV engines contain an acid-based formula that decomposes the dirt and allows you to wash it away.
ATV engines usually get dirty because of prolonged mud and dust exposure, which is the reason why they require cleaning every once in a while. Let’s go through the steps you need to take to clean an ATV engine.
- Step 1 – Get the cleaning supplies you need to clean the motor and make sure you have access to a water hose. Products such as Duragloss 860 Automotive Aluminum Cleaner or Valvoline Eagle One Mag Cleaner are equally effective, so you should choose the option that best fits your budget. A high-pressure spray nozzle like the Turbo Jet Power Washer can be a useful accessory, as it will allow you to handle persistent dirt more easily.
- Step 2 – Remove the ATV’s engine cover and spray the cleaning product over the parts you want to clean. Let the product rest for 30 seconds to two minutes before washing the engine with a power washer. Do not use brushes to scrub the dirt off because doing so might leave scratch marks on the surface.
- Step 3 – Reapply the cleaning product to remove lingering dirt and then use a power washer to wash it away. Repeat this process as many times as necessary until you remove all dirt and grease from the engine.
You will have to take out the engine if the cleaner you chose fails to restore the engine’s exterior to its original state and use a power tool to scrape the dirt and rust off the engine. It isn’t advisable to do this on your own if you don’t have the necessary experience to complete the task.
Check out our guide to the best GPS for ATV trail riding if you’re looking for a way to upgrade your quad’s navigation system.
The Best ATV Engine Cleaning Products
The search for products you can use to clean the exterior of an ATV engine can be confusing since cleaners, aluminum brighteners, and degreasers aren’t produced solely for this purpose.
Hence, in most cases, you’ll be looking for an aluminum wheel cleaner or an automotive aluminum cleaner instead of a product designed specifically for cleaning ATV engines. Although vinegar can remove grime from the engine’s surface, you shouldn’t use it because it may cause corrosion.
Motor treatment products that allow you to remove sludge and carbon deposits from the engine are usually universal, but you still need to check if you can use them to clean the interior of your quad’s engine.
I shortlisted some of the best ATV engine cleaning products, so let’s take a closer look at their features.
ATV owners often opt for the Valvoline Eagle One Mag Cleaner because it is effective and affordable. Although this product is designed primarily for aluminum alloy wheels, you can use it on all aluminum parts of your quad.
The application method is straightforward, as you just have to spray the product over the area you want to clean, leave it for 30 seconds, and then rinse it with water. You can use a soft sponge to scrub persistent dirt, but keep in mind that applying too much pressure may scratch the surface.
Be careful not to apply the cleaner to the parts of the vehicle that contain paint because you might damage it.
You won’t have too much trouble removing mud stains, greasy oil, or dirt from your vehicle’s engine if you get the Purple Power 4319PS Cleaner and Degreaser. The product is remarkably easy to use since you just have to apply to the engine’s exterior and rinse it after 30 to 60 seconds.
This industrial-strength cleaner is biodegradable and doesn’t contain aerosol or phosphate. It is also non-abrasive, so you don’t have to worry about applying it on aluminum alloy surfaces.
It is very important to rinse the product properly since allowing it to rest on an aluminum surface for too long can have unwanted effects.
The Sea Foam SF-16-6PK Motor Treatment can help you restore your quad’s fuel efficiency or acceleration capabilities by decomposing sludge and carbon buildup in the engine.
Even though the manufacturer claims that the product is safe to use with trucks, cars, and ATV engines, you still need to check with your mechanic if it is safe to use it on the quad model you own. This motor treatment is equally effective on diesel and gasoline engines.
The Sea Foam’s product doesn’t contain abrasive chemicals that can damage the engine’s components, and it can help stabilize the engine’s fuel. It also lubricates the engine’s moving parts and prevents corrosion.
Frequently Asked Questions About ATV Engine Cleaning Process
Answer: Changing the oil and air filter every three to six months should keep the engine’s interior clean and eliminate the need to use motor treatment products. Checking if the engine’s exterior is dirty after every ride will enable you to know when is the right moment to clean it.
Answer: You can find these products in all auto supply stores or order them online.
Answer: You don’t have to use a pressure washer to rinse an ATV cleaner off the vehicle’s engine, but you should keep in mind that you might struggle to remove all dirt with a regular water hose.
On the other hand, a power washer might push the dirt to the areas where you cannot reach them, so the best way to avoid this is to stand a few feet away from the vehicle while washing its motor.
Answer: There are no restrictions in terms of the amount of the cleaning product you can apply to an external part of the engine, but you must check how much of the motor treatment product you should add while cleaning the engine’s internal parts.
Cleaning the exterior part of an ATV engine is a routine procedure that doesn’t take more than 20 minutes of your time. You just need to know which cleaner, degreaser, or aluminum brightener to use, then simply apply the product and rinse it with a pressure washer.
The process of removing sludge from gasoline and diesel ATV engines is a bit more complex, and you shouldn’t go through it before consulting a mechanic.
I recommend choosing the Valvoline Eagle One Mag Cleaner if you want to remove mud stains or grime from the engine’s exterior or the Sea Foam SF-16-6PK Motor Treatment for cleaning the engine’s interior components.
I hope that this article has helped you find the best way to clean an ATV engine. Let me know in the comments or continue reading our Honda Pioneer review to learn more about the ATV’s features.