Monday, December 17, 2012

Where's my VIN?

Did you ever wonder where to find the VIN number on your ATV?  You would be surprised how many times a day we get this question.  If you aren’t the original owner of your ATV, it’s always a good idea to check the VIN number to be sure you know exactly what make and model you have.  Knowing this will help you avoid the many headaches of finding and ordering the correct parts.  Believe me; your rebuild project will go much smoother and faster once you’ve figured this out!

Not all manufacturers put their VIN numbers in the same place.  However, it is usually stamped on the frame under the motor somewhere, usually on the left hand side.  Don’t confuse this with the number that is stamped on the motor, that’s the motor serial number, not the VIN number.  If the VIN number isn’t on the frame rail under the motor it could be somewhere else on the frame.  It could be attached as a metal plate, it could be a sticker.  Other places to look on the frame are near the a-arm mounts, around the top of the steering shaft or behind the air filter housing.  It could also be on the rail behind the brush guard or on the swingarm bearing tube.  If you are patient and thorough you will find it eventually.  Most importantly– it must have 17 characters.  If it has 17 characters you’ve found it!

The position of each letter and/or number in the VIN code reveals important information about where and when your ATV was made, the type of engine it has, the model or series of ATV, various equipment/attributes and its production sequence.

Here is a general breakdown of what your ATV VINs number means:

- 1st digit: represents the country in which it was made. 1 or 4 is for the U.S., 2 is for Canada, J is for Japan, K is for Korea etc.

- 2nd digit: represents the manufacturer. H is for Honda, K is for Kawasaki etc.

- 3rd digit: this position represents the vehicle type or manufacturing division which can vary by make of vehicle.

- 4th to 8th digits: these positions represent vehicle attributes such as body style and engine type (not to be confused with an engine code, every vehicle has one of those mounted on the engine).

- 9th digit: this is called a “check digit” and it exists for security reasons. This letter or number is derived mathematically depending on the previous 8 digits. It’s used to confirm that a VIN isn’t being fabricated.

- 10th digit: The vehicle year.

 - 11th digit: Assembly plant

- 12th to 17th digits: These ATV VIN numbers increase by one for each unit that rolls off the assembly line; the last four are always digits.

So, once you’ve figured out what you’ve got you can easily figure out what you need!  Of course, there are numerous free VIN Decoders on line.  Here are just a few…

Kawasaki VIN Decoder for ATVs and motorcycles

Honda VIN Decoder for ATVs and motorcycles

Yamaha VIN Decoder for ATVs and motorcycles

Suzuki VIN Decoder for ATVs and motorcycles

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Winterizing Your Dirt Bikes and ATV's

Boss Bearing


Once there starts to be a chill in the air, you know it’s the time to start thinking about winterizing your dirt bike or ATV. Here are some easy steps to get you on your way:

1. Clean your machine.

Spray down and scrub every inch of your dirt bike or ATV. An old toothbrush and old rags will do the trick. Dish soap works best for grease and oil. You can use a pressure washer but be absolutely sure you do not use it near your hubs. Forcing water into your wheel or axle bearings is the surest way to ruin them. Also, make sure everything is dry as a bone before storing. You don't want any metal parts rusting or corroding over the winter!  And if there happens to be any broken or worn out parts, replace them now. Trust me, you don't want to be stuck fixing them when Spring rolls around and all your buddies are out riding.

2. Change the oil.

Over time, the chemicals in engine oil have a tendency to become acidic and will eventually harm your engine rather than help it. So even when your dirt bike or ATV is sitting during the winter, you want to make sure that the oil sitting in it isn't going to wreck your engine.

3. Stabilize the fuel tank and carburetor.

There is some debate about which is better - draining or filling - your fuel tank and carburetor. We feel that a full tank of gas will keep moisture from building up and that you can keep the gasoline from stratifying by adding a fuel stabilizer. For ATV's, run your machine for a few minutes to allow the stabilizer to work through the carburetor. Then shut off the motor, turn off the gas valve and oil the chain. For dirt bikes, run your machine to allow the gas and stabilizer to mix together and once it’s through the carburetor and injectors turn it off. Don't forget to turn off the petcock. If you're storing your dirt bike or ATV for only a few months, the stabilizer should be enough to keep your carb from clogging.

4. Lube it up.

You will want to clean and lube any cables, like the clutch and throttle cables. Lube up any parts that pivot and all the bearings. Keeping everything lubed during the winter will help keep moisture from building up and rusting or binding to parts.

5. Pull out the battery.

Disconnect and pull out the battery. Charge it if it needs it. Clean the terminals. It's important to store the battery where it won't freeze. Did you know that concrete causes power drain in batteries? So don't store it directly on the concrete, stick it on a shelf or in a cabinet.

6. Store it.

Keeping your dirt bike or ATV in a shed or garage is best. But if you have to keep it outside, make sure you have a good cover or tarp. More importantly, find a way to get the wheels off the ground. You can use a stand designed for dirt bikes or even something like an old milk crate or cooler. It will relieve the bike and suspension making it last longer. For ATV’s, push them up on cinder blocks or a jack stands if you have them. For both you want to fill the tires to the correct psi so they don't crack. However, if you need to leave your tires down, it’s smart to put a piece of carpet under them to keep moisture from seeping into the tires from the concrete or the ground. They could also develop flat spots so rolling them back and forth every couple of weeks can help prevent that from happening.

7. Cap that exhaust.

Mice and other critters love to hide inside of exhaust pipes and make homes out of air filters. Plug up your pipes to you don't get any furry surprises when its time to ride again.