I’ve been riding ATVs for quite a while and a question people who haven’t changed their spark plugs before or have a new ATV often need to know is when should you change your ATV spark plugs. I looked at the owner’s manuals for the most popular brands and thought I’d share when you should do it.
On average, every 6 months, 600 miles (1000 km), or 100 hours, whichever comes first according to the owner’s manual of popular ATVs such as Polaris, and Honda. A good rule of thumb is to inspect them every 6 months and change them as necessary.
Certain ATV models such as the Yamaha Kodiak say to check them after the first 1 month, and 3 months. So, there can be some variation depending on the make and model of the ATV. Today, I’ll explain the general procedure for inspecting and changing the spark plugs. As well as, what happens when an ATV spark plug is bad.
How Long Does an ATV Spark Plug Last?
Components in ATV engines wear out, and I’ve found routine maintenance every 6 months is about right. But, how long do ATV spark plugs last specifically?
Overall, ATV spark plugs last 6 months or 600 miles (1000 km), whichever comes first. They can last longer or shorter depending on how aggressively an ATV is ridden. If you regularly rev the engine to very high RPMs and put a lot of torque on the ATV it can shorten their life.
The same is also true if you ride your ATV very gently. But, on average every 6 months for most ATVs is about right. A spark plug is a mechanical component that has parts made of metal. Over time they can wear out, become corroded, or become very dirty.
Spark plugs are fairly inexpensive and very easy to change. Here’s a table that shows when top ATV brands recommended changing the sparkplugs:
|ATV Model||When to Inspect/Change|
|2020 Honda – Rancher||600 miles (1000 kms), 6 months, or 100 hours.|
|2020 Polaris – Sportsman 450||600 miles (1000 kms), 6 months, or 100 hours.|
|2020 Yamaha Kodiak 700||600 miles (1000 kms), 6 months, or 100 hours.|
The 2020 Yamaha Kodiak 700 is a bit different because in the user manual it says to check the spark plugs after the first month when you get it and after the first 3 months. Then periodically every 6 months similar to the other popular ATV brands.
This also shows that the exact time requirements for when spark plugs will wear out, and when to change them differs by make and model. In the first instance, you should always refer to your owner’s manual to see exactly when you should change/inspect them.
The owner’s manuals will also state what size, and what type of spark plug to use as a replacement.
Hours vs miles/km vs time and which to use
For each timeframe, they also give mileage and the time it has been operating in hours. The reason is that if you ride your ATV a lot then it will create more wear and tear on the spark plugs. And you should check them sooner. Certain ATVs have both an odometer and a meter that displays how many hours it has been used.
But, the engine can be idle and still running without putting on any miles or kilometers so the operating hours are also used as a gauge of wear and tear.
Now that you’re aware of when to change your ATV spark plugs, how do you know if they’re worn, and whether they need replacing.
An oil change, which includes changing the oil filter, needs to be done periodically. Many people wonder how often you need to change the oil and the oil filter on their ATV.
I explained this in another article by looking at how often it needs to be done for the most popular ATV brands to answer this question. As well as explain what’s involved in this article here about how often you need to change the oil on ATV.
How Do I Know If My ATV Spark Plug Is Bad?
Although the owner’s manual of popular ATVs recommends inspecting the spark plug and replacing it every 6 months, you may be wondering how to know if a spark plug on your ATV is bad. Here’s how to know:
Signs that your spark plug is bad are if your ATV is harder to start, the acceleration isn’t as good as it normally is, it’s consuming more fuel than normal, if the engine backfires, or if you notice it isn’t idling smoothly once warmed up.
These signs can be indicative of other issues. But, generally, they are clear signs there is an issue with one or more of your spark plugs. The spark plugs themselves can also be checked individually to see if they spark. Here’s a quick video that shows how it’s done.
What Will a Bad Spark Plug Do to a Four Wheeler?
It’s fairly easy to check if you’re getting a spark from a spark plug using the test above. But, what are the effects of a bad spark plug? And what does it do to a four-wheeler/ATV?
A bad spark plug will cause the engine to misfire, backfire, use more fuel, and not accelerate with the same power it normally does. The spark plug is responsible for igniting the fuel which turns the pistons. When it’s not creating a spark the fuel won’t ignite efficiently or smoothly.
A spark plug works by drawing electricity from the battery to create the spark which lights the fuel. If the spark plug is not working correctly it won’t spark consistently.
This can lead to fuel not being burned completely, which means the engine needs to use more oil. If you’re idling your ATV, and the engine is fully warmed up, the engine should run constantly and smoothly.
If the spark plugs are misfiring then the engine won’t vibrate consistently and you’ll notice it sputters. Due to some of the fuel not being used, there can be a build-up that will cause a loud backfire.