My first and only ATV is a Kawasaki
650. Just as I'd been snookered by the appearance of my first car (nearly 30
years prior!), a yellow, convertible MGB; I was smitten when I laid eyes on the
camouflage skin of my ATV.
Plus, it had a winch for the wench to operate, along with a plow, front
racks, a set of new tires and rear storage basket. Although it was several
years old, it had no dents and low hours.
Proudly, I brought home the best toy I'd ever bought. But soon, I found
myself reluctant to use it. It had sounded fine when I looked at it, but back
at home, it had started running very roughly. What was wrong?
I'd done the damage myself. Given the price of gas, the man who'd been
selling it hadn't kept the tank full. As soon as I parked it in my shed, I
gassed it up -- using gas from the same container I'd been using during the
summer for the lawn mower.
The moral of this story: Don't put gas in your ATV (or other small engine)
if the gas is more than 30 days old! Here's why.
The majority of gas stations in the United States are using gas which
is about 10 percent ethanol. If you live in or near a big city, you may be able
to find a gas station which sells "regular" gas. But for most of us, the gas we
buy is a mixture, which is not the same as regular gas.
Love it or hate it, you need to understand the basic properties of ethanol,
in simple terms. Ethanol is an oxygenated fuel, which
means it pulls in oxygen. It also pulls moisture from the air. After a period
of time, when the ethanol in the gas mixture has drawn oxygen and moisture to
itself, the ethanol can no longer remain in suspension/mixture with the gas. It
instead morphs into a blob of stuff that can lodge somewhere in your system,
causing clogs and blockages.
There are a myriad of gas additives, which are designed to "stabilize" the
gasoline, in other words, keep the ethanol in suspension in the mixture. If you
go to a large store and check out the display area for gas additives, you'll
have a hard time choosing one.
Before shopping for an additive, talk to an ATV mechanic or professional and
ask for recommendations. Yes, they will most likely recommend what they stock
in their shop, and it may cost more than what you'd find at the big stores. But
the additives are mixed by the ounce, and a small container will last you
through many gallons.
What's the best advice? If you have gas on hand, which is more than 30 days
old, pour it into your vehicle -- don't take a chance on creating a problem
with your ATV. Calculate how much gas you use per month in your ATV, and resist
filling its tank. Just add enough gas to take it through the task, so that none
of your ATV gas -- in the container or in its tank -- gets old past that 30-day
For a fine assortment of ATV Accessories, click here.