Can I Use Regular Oil in My ATV?

Choosing the right motor oil for any vehicle is important, but choosing one for your ATV is even more so. Choosing the right oil can be a lot like standing at the Starbucks coffee counter not really sure whether a cappuccino, latte, or mocha is the right drink to fuel you for the day.

There is so much choice and not a lot of information on which is the right one or wrong one for your situation. Unless you are a barista you are unlikely to know how much coffee goes into a cappuccino, latte, Americano, or mocha, much like you are unlikely to know which oil has what you need for your ATV. That being said, making the incorrect oil choice is going to have much more adverse effects than if you choose the wrong coffee. 

When it comes to oils, synthetics are really the better choice. It is also good to understand what synthetic oil is and what makes it best for you. The definition of synthetic, semi-synthetic, or mineral oil is determined by this base stock of the oil. 

All oil has a base stock. In synthetic oil this is like a jug of stones, but these stones are all smooth and the same size, if it is mineral oil then the majority of these stones are different sizes, and there may be some that have slightly rough edges too. They are for the most part the same size, but the molecular structure varies among them. If the oil is semi-synthetic, then it is a mixture of both of these jugs of stones. 

In any oil the bulk of its content are the base stock (these hypothetical stones), so with 4-stroke, ¾ of this would be base stock, and the fest will generally be a viscosity modifier and some other additives. There will be a variety of different levels and qualities of synthetic base stocks, so it is very difficult for any buyer to know which they are getting. 

So, oil is oil then? Nope. You could not use 4-strove car oil in your ATV or UTV. The ATV/UTV oil environment is much more savage and severe than that use for cars and other automobiles. ATV’s run at higher RPM’s, and run hotter too. They have a lower oil volume and many will use a common sump for the engine, clutch and transmission. This means that the harsh multi-faceted environment means that this oil has a lot more jobs to do throughout a more broad range of conditions than you would find for automotive oil. 

You see, the additive package is what makes oil function, and due to the more severe and demanding conditions of ATV’s, the oil for ATV’s demands a very different set of additives than the oil for your car does. ATV oils are generally formulated to help in the prevention of rust and corrosion from happening inside the ATV engine. This is because ATV engines that are run for repeated and short periods of time, or end up sitting for longer periods of time make for the ideal breeding ground for rust and corrosion as this type of operation will often result in condensation. 

Engines in cars and automobiles of any other type are typically run every day for extended periods, so the oils in these engines do not need to address the same situation as ATV oils does. In short, the oil is manufactured to tackle the biggest issues that face the type of engine and vehicle. 

How often should you change oil on an ATV? 

As nice as it would be to have a direct answer to how often you should change the oil in your ATV, it is not quite as simple as that. The answer to this question really depends on your ATV. However, in general you are supposed to perform an ATV oil change after every 100 hours of use, or at least once per year.

However, you should, like with many other things, check your users manual or manufacturers guide for more specific information about your personal ATV. You should also read the manual and guide for more information, such as which type of oil and filter to use, and then buy these.

It is important that you use the correct ATV oil and ATV oil change supplies to keep your vehicle running properly. So, avoid making any assumptions about what you could use, and just trust in the manual. If you do not, you could end up only creating more issues for yourself. 

To change your ATV oil you need to first ensure that you have all the adequate supplies you need. Then you should start up your ATV’s engine and let it run for around 10 minutes. This will warm up the oil inside so that it will release from the drain easier. You should then check your manual to find out which panels you will need to remove to access the oil filter. 

For many ATVs an oil change will include removing the seat, pulling a latch to unfasten the tabs nearly, as well as snapping off the panel on the right side of the vehicle, which will reveal a cover that has bolts you will need to remove also. 

You will need to drain the old oil, so you will need to find the drain plug which will be at the bottom of the engine. Ensure that the hole is clear before you drain the oil and put a drain pan underneath it. Once the old oil is drained, put the plug back in place and add in your new oil. 

ATV oil changes are not all that different from many other automotive vehicles, but you must make sure that you use the correct oil to do so. You do not need to change the oil in your ATV too often, unless you use it a lot. Many ATV oils have anti-corrosive properties which gives them longer life.