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Course Outline

An easy way to remember the items to inspect is the phrase “START-GO.”

Steering and Drive System

  • Drive chain: Check your owner’s manual for proper adjustment. Inspect and lubricate the chain regularly.
  • Drive shaft: Check for leaks, and consult your manual for proper lubricant levels.
  • Handlebars (or steering wheel) and footrests: Shake to make sure they’re secure.

Throttle and Brakes

  • Throttle: Make sure it moves smoothly and snaps closed. On an ATV, the throttle should snap back to idle.
  • Ignition switch: Check for wear and proper operation.
  • Engine stop switch: Test operation.
  • Brakes: Test to make sure controls operate smoothly. Check and maintain fluid levels.
  • Foot shifter: Make sure it’s attached firmly and positioned for safe operation.

Activate Lights

  • Headlights and taillights: Turn them on.
  • Brake lights: Press the brake, and have your riding partner make sure the brake lights illuminate.


  • Confirm that your registration is current.
  • Make sure your state OHV decal is attached.

Tires, Wheels, and Suspension

  • Tires
    • Always use a low-pressure gauge to check tire pressure on ATVs and UTVs.
    • Make sure pressure is equal on all tires. Do not exceed design specifications.
    • Check for damage that could cause air leaks.
  • Axle nuts: Make sure they’re tight and secured by cotter pins.
  • Bearings: Try to rock the wheel on its axle to check for wear.
  • Spark arrestor/muffler: Make sure it’s attached firmly and working properly.
  • Major fasteners: Periodically tighten all major fasteners with hand tools.


  • Gasoline: Make sure the tank is full.
  • Oil: Check while the engine is off and the vehicle is on a level surface.
  • Leaks: Check for fuel leaks.
  • Air filter: Make sure it’s clean, undamaged, and unblocked.
  • Spark plugs: Replace if necessary.

Operate Safely, Ethically, and Responsibly.

For other types of OHVs not specifically addressed in this chapter, be sure to consult the owner’s manual from the manufacturer for appropriate operating procedures.

Routine Maintenance

Off-roading puts a strain on your vehicle, so it’s important to perform the scheduled maintenance recommended in your owner’s manual. You can avoid a breakdown and possible injury.

Two riders inspect an ATV’s tires
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