What Type of Oil and Gas Should You Put in an ATV?

Studies show that many American ATV owners are under the age brackets of 30-49 years.

This stat confirms that ageingng and getting richer are two factors that can motivate people to buy four-wheelers. Even so, an ATV is an excellent investment for any kind of person, young or old. Yes, the reliability, flexibility and productivity of an all-terrain vehicle are worth your hard-earned money.

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What is the Right Fuel, Gas and Oil for ATV?

But for the investment to bloom, you’ll need the correct user information for your ATV model. Here’s a comprehensive guide on ATV fuels and oils:

What’s the Right Fuel for Your ATV?

Well, there many factors that determine the appropriate fuel for your specific ATV model.

Nonetheless, most ATVs guzzle regular 87 octane gasoline but can perform optimally with the pricier 91 or 89 octane fuel. In other words, the higher the quality of fuel, the better your engine will perform.

Also, some four-wheelers only use premium fuel. So filling them up with regular fuel can damage their engines. Check the manual to confirm your quad’s model, then use that piece of info to determine what grade of fuel is best to use.

Another factor that determines what oil and fuel to put in your ATV is whether it’s a 2-stroke or 4-stroke. Generally, a 2-stroke ATV is more complex than a 4-stroke one because it requires you to mix the gasoline and oil together since the engine lacks an oil reservoir.

As such, it’s advisable to use only premium fuel for two strokes because they operate at a greater compression rate. This means not buying anything lower than 91 octane fuel.

What’s the Octane Rating?

Also known as octane number, octane rating simply stands for the amount of compression a specific kind of fuel can withstand without igniting.

In other words, the higher a fuel’s octane rating, the more compression it will withstand. If fuel gets compressed until it lights up, the resultant fire will damage the engine. This is a phenomenon that’s quite prevalent with gasoline ATVs and its one reason you ought to be extra careful about the fuel you buy.

Other reasons why you should only the right fuel for you quad include:

Engine Knocks

Theoretically, miss-fueling your ATV is like pouring poison into the body.

It causes serious malfunctions with one of the biggest hazard being engine knocks. Knocking occurs when there’s an incorrect fuel-air mixture. This makes the fuel ignite in uneven pockets, instead of a uniform burst.

Left untreated, knocking will cause cylinder wall and piston damage.

Poor Engine Performance

Many a time, miss-fueling will ultimately lead to a reduced ATV engine performance.

This comes in the form of uneven power delivery, erratic engine reactions, and frequent emission of white smoke.

Reduced Fuel Economy

Lower octane fuel burns faster than higher octane gas.

In this case, buying cheaper fuel can actually turn out to be an expensive endeavour.

The Preference for High-Grade, Non-Ethanol Fuel

Many ATV enthusiasts believe that 87-grade gasoline (with or without ethanol) is all that you require for your quad.

To them, buying a better grade is merely a waste of money. These guys even assume that the 87-grade gasoline is ideal for all ATVs because it doesn’t burn too hot, thus posing less risk of combustion through the piston.

On the other hand, some preach that non-ethanol gasoline, and especially 91-grade fuel, is the best for ATVs. This stems from the belief that ethanol gasoline can affect your engine’s fuel economy and power. Additionally, they fear that using lower grade gasoline results in many little engine issues.

At the end of the day, it’s best to settle for what the manufacturer recommends.  But if your engine is experiencing some knocks, buying a higher grade fuel can cure it.

Bad Fuel Symptoms

If you’re yet to experience fuel problems when riding your ATV, here a several signs to watch out for:

  • You always have to extend the ignition choke for the quad to start
  • The engine fails to rev properly and behaves like it’s starving for fuel
  • The engine keeps stumbling before dying out, especially as it idles without any throttle input. This is usually a sign that the fuel you’re using has debris or water.
  • Fuel leakage from the carburettor even if the petcock is on.

Other symptoms of bad fuel include hard starts, surging, and loss of power.

How to Prevent ATV Fuel Problems?

 On top of buying a higher grade fuel, you ought to:

Use Additives

Additives are extremely reliable when it comes to protecting your engine from lower octane fuel.

Remember, low-cost octane fuel has contaminants that pose a great risk to ATV engines, and especially carbureted ones. This is because carburettors normally have jets (small tiny ports) that can clog up quickly. If anything, additives go a long way in cleaning these the jets.

What’s more, additives also act as fuel stabilizers and thus help reduce engine knocks in addition to increasing fuel economy. One of the most popular additives used by quad enthusiast is Seafoam.

This highly recommended product is easy to find at your nearest repair store. Alternatively, you can go for STA-BIL, an additive designed to keep fuel fresh for longer. STA-BIL is quite useful for guys who don’t ride their quads often.

All in all, you might want to use an engine cleaner if your four-wheeler is showing signs of bad fuel use. But don’t use too much as it will cause piston damage due to the excess heat.

Hack the ECU Computer

Most modern ATVs come with ‘car’ computers known as ECUs.

These components control essential functions of the bike and you can hack into them to change your quad’s preferred gas source. You can visit ATV forums to confirm if your model has any performance-based ECU tune.

So if you can’t afford to purchase high-grade fuel all the time, this is one option that will save you when using low-grade gas.

Can You Use E85 Gas in ATV?

The E85 is a high-level ethanol-gasoline blended gas that contains 51% to 83% ethanol.

There’s this belief among many ATV enthusiasts that E85 gas can ruin the engine. But it all depends on the ATV model you’re using. Most old models don’t show any signs of problems with E85.

Which is the Best Oil for Your ATV?

With an ATV, you have the liberty to choose which type of motor oil to utilize.

But some oils work better with specific types of engines. Even so, there are three main types of oil you can use:

  • Conventional Motor Oil- Formulated from mineral (all-natural) base stocks.
  • Synthetic motor oil- Made using man-made, chemical compounds. Synthetic motor oil can withstand rigorous conditions and are easier to make than conventional oils.
  • Semi-synthetic motor oil- These oils are a blend of synthetic and conventional oils. They are basically seventy per cent conventional oils and thirty per cent synthetic oils.

What’s more, motor oils for UTVs, dirt bikes, and ATVs, get made using similar principles to those truck or car oils.

The Society of Automotive Engineers rates all these oils as per their viscosity, using then following grades: 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, and 60. Grades 0 to 20 oil products have the sign ‘W’, which stands for winter.

For instance, in a 10W30 oil, the number ten stands for the flow rate of the oil when it’s cold. The number 20 represents the flow rate when the oil is hot.

As such, higher viscosity oils work best in a hotter climate, since the main job of a motor lubricant is to minimize heat.

Choosing ATV Oils

Most quad engines feature a lot of plastic, which is why you ought to go for a product that will match the hot temperatures in a covered engine.

If you happen to put the wrong oil, your machine won’t function optimally. What’s more, you may face issues like overheating problems, stuck piston rings, extensive cam wear, bearing failure, wet clutch application, poor fuel mileage, poor throttle response.

So it’s advisable to always buy premium oils to help your engine perform adequately. With many 4-strokes, the 10w40 will work best. But be more careful with 2-strokes, as these quads demand that you only use gasoline and oil specified for them.

If your quad features a wet clutch, makes sure to use wet-clutch compatible oil only.

Conclusion – Use Appropriate Oil and Gas

Clearly, the fuel and lubricant you choose determine how well your quad will function.

To figure out the best products for your ATV model, first, start by looking at the manufacturer’s specifications in the manual. You can also ask around in online forums to realize your quad’s engine specifications. If you find that your four-wheeler requires premium fuel, avoid using anything less as it will breed engine problems.

All in all, you can prevent fuel and oil problems by being hands-on. This includes being alert for any tale-tell signs of problems and taking the necessary measures to mitigate them.

Josh Berry - MotoShark Editor
Josh Berry
I'm a off-road enthusiast, extreme sport fan and the editor of MotoShark. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding this article, please leave a comment or contact me.

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