10 Fixes Even the Mechanically Challenged can Conquer

Save Money & Do It Yourself

My Dad once shot the hood of our family car sighting in his Remington 30-06 rifle. The bullet ricocheted off the hood and flew haplessly off target. For years later, he drove that car around with a big giant rust spot on the hood in the shape of a glancing bullet to remind him of his momentary lapse of reasoning. My Uncle once got hit in the head with the top of a tiki bar he was helping his friends disassemble. I'm sure it had nothing to do with "over-hydrating" at the Jimmy Buffet party he was attending/ To make matter much worse, he was wearing a kilt. So, in essence, he nearly got "kilt".....in a kilt!

I'm sure our readers can relate to situations like this, and probably have many more stories that would make my "role models" look like Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton. There's hope for those folks that fit the mold I speak of, because even they should be able to complete the list of menial tasks we've compiled. Not only will having the skills to complete these challenges save you a few bucks, they might even provide the confidence to do other really amazing things....like buckle their helmet and boots all by themselves.

Plugging a Flat Tire:

Don't waste your money taking a flat tire to a tire store. Drop what you're doing, run out to the nearest store you can find and hunt for a Tire Plug Kit. After finding the puncture, run the reaming tool into the hole to prep it for the plug. Simply place the plug in the plug insertion tool, put a little rubber cement onto the plug, then jam that sucker into the hole. If the hole is large and still leaking, add a second plug.ATV Rider

Replace a Broken Winch Cable:

A winch cable can typically be replaced with no tools whatsoever. Before starting, I'd recommend disconnecting the battery. This will prevent anyone accidentally actuating the switch and ripping your fingers off! (All joking aside...this is a real possibility). The first step is pulling the old, broken cable out by allowing the winch to free-spool. Next, you'll want to thread the winch line into the opening on the drum of the winch enough for the drum to get a good bite on it. With your hands free of the winch, hook the battery back up. It is imperative that you either get help to put pressure on the winch cable, or attach the cable to an immovable object. WIth pressure on the cable, hit the winch switch and allow the winch to self-spool the cable back onto the drum.ATV Rider

Oil and Filter Change:

The process of changing your oil and filter is simple. Remove the drain plug to drain the oil, replace the filter, fill it back up with new oil and you're good to go. Although the process is the same, knowing where your oil drain plug is, whether the crankcase and transmission oil is separate, where the oil filter is, and what type of oil and the capacity are typically the missing links. Always refer to the owners manual for oil type and capacity requirements. As far as changing the oil itself, I'd rely on technology. With any popular machine, someone has already utilized YouTube to create a video, or the steps are posted in a forum somewhere.ATV Rider

Replace Grips:

Removing old grips it usually as simple as grabbing a utility knife and cutting them off. To put on new grips, I always remove extra glue with a utility knife first. I'll then wipe the bare bars down with brake cleaner to remove any oils or residue. Glue is imperative to secure the new grips. You can either buy actual grip glue, or for a fraction of the price grab yourself a tube of 3M weatherstrip adhesive. I apply a generous amount of the adhesive to the bars, then use the blowgun on my air compressor to blow air into the grip as I "float it" onto the bars. The floating technique works amazingly well!ATV Rider

Air Filter Service:

If you own a screwdriver and you can find the airbox, you can service the air filter yourself. If you have a paper filter, simply throw it away and replace it with a new one. If, on the other hand, you have a foam filter, they can be cleaned and reused. I use a typical powdered laundry detergent mixed with hot water and bath that filter in that mix for five or ten minutes. The detergent will eat away the dirt and crud, leaving you with a fairly clean filter. I prefer to sit the filter in the sun and air dry it. After dried, I place the filter in a large plastic bag and coat it with a liberal amount of filter oil. You may want to use gloves because the stuff is STICKY! The final step is to wring the extra oil out of the filter and place it back in the airbox.ATV Rider

Adjust Chain:

If you still have a quad with a chain, rest assured keeping it in good operating condition is a piece of cake. Lube the chain liberally and frequently will ensure a long life. In the event that the chain needs adjusted, most ATV's just require the rear axle carrier bolts to be loosened and the carrier to be rotated, which takes the slack out of the chain.ATV Rider

Bleed Brakes:

In the event that hydraulic brakes get hot, the brake fluid can become overheated, and in turn loose their stopping power. Bleeding the brakes is easy. The first step is to open the master cylinder and fill it with a quality brake fluid. The most important thing to remember is never allow the master cylinder to be pumped dry. If you do that, you'll fill the lines with air and make the bleeding process more difficult. Having a partner to help makes the process infinitely easier. Position yourself in a convenient location to access the bleed valve on the caliper. Have your helper pump the brakes three times, then hold the brake on. With the brake being held, crack open the bleeder valve. Make sure your helper doesn't let go of the brake yet. Once the fluid or air escapes from the bleed valve, close it. Now your helper can pump the brake again, repeating the process over and over until no more air comes out of the lines. If there are no more calipers attached to that master cylinder, you're good to go. If there is a second caliper, that one must be bled as well.ATV Rider

Simple Shock Tuning:

Even an ATV or UTV with basic shocks has the ability to be tuned. For instance, adding a heavy accessory like a winch or a snow plow can significantly affect the performance and handling. By adding more preload on the shock, you can tune the shock to improve your situation. Usually new machines come with a spanner wrench. To adjust the shocks, it's easiest to jack the wheels being adjusted off the ground. By spinning the shock a little tighter, the shock becomes compressed, which in turn raises the spring rate, which will most likely help out. If your machine has compression and rebound dampening, this process is more involved. If you own a high performance machine, it's likely it comes from the factory with high and low speed compression and high and low speed rebound dampening in addition to preload. Adjusting these shocks requires a tutorial of it's own.ATV Rider

Hammer out a Dented Wheel:

If you bend a wheel, it's not always destroyed. If the wheel is cast, it's pretty much a goner. However, in the case of rolled aluminum and steel wheels, you might be able to save them. I always remove the wheel from the machine. Next, grab a trusty deadblow hammer. They are filled with lead shot that keep the hammer from bouncing upon impact. This directs all of the energy into the wheel. Deadblow hammers also tend to be rubber coated, which will help from marking the wheel too much. The deadblow hammer technique won't work for every damaged wheel, but I've saved many wheels with this technique that I thought were a lost cause.ATV Rider

Drain a Wet CVT:

If your ATV or UTV spends time in the water, you most certainly have ended up with water in the CVT system. The lifeline of a CVT is cool intake air and the ability to get rid of hot air caused by friction. Unfortunately, since water follows the path of least resistance, if you take your machine swimming, the CVT intake and exhaust make an easy path for water to access the CVT. It's a great habit to pull the CVT drain plug after a day of wet wheeling. If you don't know where yours is, find the lowest possible location on the bottom of the CVT. Since gravity pulls the water down to the bottom, that's where the drain plug will be. If I notice water escaping, I'll also start the machine up with the drain plug removed. The spinning clutches will act as fans and help push any remaining water out, while also helping to dry the CVT out with airflow.ATV Rider