What To Do When You Sink Your Four Wheeler

Submitted by on Mon, 03/08/2021 - 17:29

Riding around in an ATV is one of the best experiences one can have. Driving around new landscapes without the worry about roads is a great feeling. However, it is not all fun and games, as an ATV is still a vehicle that can have problems or break down. ATVs face even more risks than the usual vehicle due to the common off-road driving. Submerging or sinking your ATV is one of these risks that can cause a lot of damage to an ATV. That is why it is important to know what to do when you sink your four-wheeler; though, using four-wheeler snow tracks can help prevent sinking in all sorts of terrain.

Bike Out of Water

The first thing to do after an ATV becomes submerged is to make sure the rider is alright. Check for injuries and deal with them appropriately. The first step after that is to get the ATV out of whatever it is submerged in. To start this process, you will need to turn off the ATV. Do not attempt to turn the ATV back on until you have gone through the steps you need to fix the vehicle. Once the four-wheeler is off, put it into neutral to allow the wheels to turn without power. The last thing to do is to pull the ATV out with a winch or another vehicle that can hook up to it. Do not try to use just your own strength to avoid hurting yourself.

Air Filter

Once the ATV is no longer submerged, you will need to take out the air filtration box as it normally filters air going to the engine. However, it can fill up with liquid in these kinds of incidents; removing it will prevent liquid from leaking into the engine. Removing the air filter can be a bit different on each ATV model, so make sure you know how to do it for your model. It often requires that you remove the seat to get access to the air filtration box. You need to drain the box of any liquid and let it fully dry. It is also possible that you will need a new filter for the box and possibly a new filter box if you cannot clean it fully.

Tilt the Bike

This step will most likely require few friends for help. You now need to drain all the liquid you can from the motor and the exhaust. The best way to do this is to tilt the bike backward, so the front of the bike points up. If there is liquid in the motor and exhaust system, you should see it drain out as you lift the ATV. You can put the vehicle down once the liquid stops draining from it. The ATV should be ready for a tow to wherever you need it for the next part of the repair process.

Cleaning the Air System

Once you have the ATV settled in a workspace, you will want to start cleaning out the air inlet. This process changes a bit depending on the model, but you will need to clear out any mud, grime, and liquid from the inlet. This will help to prevent any engine damage when using the ATV later. You will also need to disassemble the breather tubes to wash them with water. Let them dry fully before putting them back together.


The stator is a common place for liquid to gather when a vehicle is waterlogged. To clean the stator, you need to start with removing the cover on it. Use some form of air compressor or liquid vacuum to remove all the liquid you can from the stator. After you remove all the liquid you can, use a hot air blower, like a hairdryer, to dry any of the remaining liquid. Do this carefully, as hot air can damage some parts of the stator. You can also let the stator airdry, but this can take a while.

Belt Housing

If your bike has a belt transmission, you will need to drain it of any liquid that got in. the method of draining changes based on the model of ATV, but most have a drain plug. If there is no drain plug, you will need to open up the housing cover to clean it of any liquid. You may have to do this if the liquid that is in your ATV is not just water.

Replacing Liquids

Any liquid that gets into an ATV will often contaminate the cooling system, the gas tank, and the carburetor. You will need to drain and clean each one of these parts multiple times to get your ATV back in working order. The carburetor often needs extra attention and is worth removing to fully clean. Once everything is back in place, you should refill the vehicle with the recommended liquid.

Drain the Cylinder

To drain the cylinders of any liquid that has gathered, you will need to remove all the spark plugs and plug wires. This will prevent possible damage to the engine during the next steps. Now, start to turn the engine several times until liquid stops leaving the cylinders. Once drained, put all the parts back where they belong and let the ATV idle for a few minutes. Apply lubricant to the air inlet as it idles to replace any lost lubricant. The ATV may smoke as it idles, but this is not something to worry about, as long as it stops after a few minutes.

Replace Spark Plugs

It is not unusual to have ruined spark plugs after submerging an ATV. Get a few spark plugs and replace your old ones. As you start up the vehicle, some remaining liquid might damage your new spark plugs— just replace these as needed. Keep going until the bike can fully start and you see the spark plugs working properly.

Final Fluid Replacement

Before taking your ATV out for another trip, you will need to replace any other contaminated fluids. You will most likely need to check the engine oil for contamination. If it needs to be replaced, use cheap diesel to clear out the bad oil and drain it. Repeat this process until the diesel oil is clear when you drain it. You can also repeat this process with cheap engine oil a few times and then replace it with the kind of oil you want in your engine. You will need to check the differentials and transmission for dirty oil as well. If dirty, you will have to drain it and replace it with cheap oil like the engine. Once the cheap oil drains clear, you can fill up with your normal oil. Replacing the brake fluid requires no test or cleaning. Just drain the bad brake fluid and pour in new brake fluid at the same time to prevent air from entering the system. Stop draining fluid once you see clean brake fluid start to drain.

Once you have done all these steps, your ATV should be ready to drive again. It can be quite a hassle to deal with a submerged ATV, but that is why it is so important to know what to do when you sink your four-wheeler. When you are all done, you should only be out a few hours to fully fix your ATV if you have the part.

What To Do When You Sink Your Four Wheeler


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