ATV Lessons Learned

“I Learned About ‘ATVing’ From That!”


This is the page where our club members share the mistakes they’ve made ATVing, the errors of their ways if you will, their faux pas, and just plain old “Oops, can’t believe I did that”. It is also where we share some helpful hints, things others do to make their rides more enjoyable. We share this with you so that the rest of us may learn, have fun, and keep our trail rides safe.

Disclaimer – This is not the place to go and get information about how to improve the operation of your ATV/UTV, or reconfigure it to avoid some of the consequences that go along with pushing the envelope or just having some fun. We’ll leave that to the companies that design and build them, and to the certified techs that work on them. Kindly reach out to them for that kind of information.

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Hi Temp?…Limp Home?…What?”


“This is a blast! I gotta’ do that again”, I said as I turned my side by side back around to plow once again into the two-foot plus deep puddle of muddy water. I buried my front end in this mini-pond and watched a wall of coffee colored water rise up like a tsunami and splash on the hood of my machine. I blasted my way through to the other side as the rest of the group all took turns parting the waters, churning up the murky bottom, and hooting and hollowing with excitement. After almost half an hour and sufficiently satisfied with our playtime, we headed back onto the trail, eight machines strong.

About ten minutes out I came to a hill and depressed the peddle expecting a strong surge of power to negotiate the steep climb. “What the heck, man. No power?!”, I shouted. Am I in “eco” mode I thought? Did I put the eco-key in instead? I looked at my speedometer only to see the ‘Hi-Temp” message scrolling across the screen. Sure enough, my temperature gauge was pegged out. I pulled over and could hear my cooling fan running fine, but the temp was not coming down at all. I shut down my side by side. 

My wife’s cousin assessed the situation and grabbed a couple bottles of water. “Your radiator is plugged with silt from driving it through the mud puddle” he said. “It dried up in the baffles and is preventing your radiator from cooling properly.” He removed the cover on my hood to get to the radiator as best he could and started splashing water from the bottles on the front of the radiator. We all sat for several minutes to let our machines cool down and then continued on. Several minutes later it overheated again, but now I wasn’t alone as three more, and then soon after  one more machines overheated. We limped our way along and finally got to a road where two of the ATVs that were running were able to continue on to the park-n-ride and bring back the trailers to haul the rest of us out. Two of the side by sides had overheated enough to blow coolant. Thankfully, the story ended well. We all made it back and the machines that overheated were cleaned, serviced, and back on the trails again.

Helpful hint: You never know when you will be overcome by the urge to play in the mud and plow through pools of coffee colored water along the ATV trails. It is highly recommended that each machine bring along a couple of spray bottles of fresh water whenever you hit the trails. In the absence of a hose or a good power washer it’s the next best thing. Immediately after you saturate your ATV/UTV in these murky waters, take a few minutes to spray the front of your radiator and clean it out as much as you can before you get back on the trail when the silty muddy water will dry like concrete in your radiator. Hose it or power wash it down when you get back home or to your destination to make sure you’ve cleaned it up well. 


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“Running on Fumes!”


“Dude, you forgot to do what?” “I forgot to fill my tank before we left”, my friend confessed. So here we were, a good 20-25 miles from where we started our trek this morning and my buddy has a tank that’s less than one-quarter full. “For the love of peace, how in the heck could you forget to fill your gas tank?” He shook his head in disbelief that he forgot something so basic as to fill his gas tank, but chalked it up to the celebrating he did the night before after a long work week. Well, it made him feel a little better. To make matters worse he carries a jerrican of gas on every trip, but that too was empty, something he also fills along with his gas tank. I didn’t have an extra gas can with me, but I always carry a syphon as a back-up.

“I think I can assist my friend”, as I walked toward him and his ATV carrying the snake-like hose. “You are in luck as I did fill my tank, and my side by side hasn’t used much at all on this trip. I think I can spare a few gallons.” I deployed the syphon and got a good gas flow going from my machine to his. It would have made a surgeon smile watching this “blood transfusion-like” operation underway. With enough fuel to easily get us both back to start, we headed back to camp.

Helpful hint: Some of us misjudge that the gas we have will be enough for our trip, or the trip just is longer than expected. We can suddenly find ourselves in an extreme low fuel situation. Carrying an extra five gallon can of gas, while an obvious proactive plan, may not be practical, especially for some ATVs with limited or no space. A syphon hose is a good backup as it allows for easy transfer of fuel from one or more machines to the fuel starved ATV/UTV.