Waterproofing Your ATV-April’00

Water can be your enemy, boot. If you don’t drink it, wash in it or flush it, consider it a hostile force. Got that? Water is a carrier. Water permits the easy access of foreign agents like dirt, mud and sand into your zooter. If you don’t reinforce your outer perimeter, you will have a security breach and your next paycheck will be overrun!

Water mixes with other things to create different kinds of trouble. Here are some equations for you. Water + oxygen + ferrous metals (steel) = rust. Water + salt + aluminum = white corrosion. Water + dirt + grease/oil = grinding compound. Do these equations make you nervous, boot? Good! Then do something about it!


Outer seals must be in good condition. Note, boot, that these are “dust seals.” Their job is to stop dust, and they barely do that! If properly maintained, the seals will stop splashed water from entering. But these seals will not stop pressurized water entry! The inner rubber seals of the bearings won’t stop water entry either. Water will travel down an axle shaft between the axle and the bearings’ inner race. It will pool in the area between the bearings and attack the bearings from the inside out.
A bearing filled with waterproof grease is your best line of defense.
If the bearing is full of grease, then there is no room for water! My
bayoublasting buddies at High Lifter use Slick 50 grease and they recommend that you repack the bearings after every serious water ride. For your ball joints, king pins, suspension bushing and needle bearings, a waterproof grease, injected via a grease needle, will prevent water entry.


The engine oil should be checked daily and also immediately after a dunking for the presence of water. “Immediately” means now, boot?not when you go riding again! If the oil is a milky white foam, you will be court martialed. Several oil changes may be necessary to completely remove the water. Each time bring the motor up to full operating temperature then change the oil. Repeat until the white is gone. A slight graying of the oil isn’t quite as bad as long as extreme demands are not placed on the motor and its oil. Instead of spending your time correcting a problem, you may want to consider putting in some effort to prevent the problem.

Check the position of your crankcase breather hose. If the end is open or it has one of those worthless flat valves, it must be modified. Measure the hose OD (that’s “outside diameter,” boot, not olive drab) and drill a hole in the carburetor’s airbox that is 1/32 inch smaller. Use a lubricant like WD-40 or similar to lube the hose and insert it into the airbox. Inside the box, position the hose above the filter element, if possible, and install a K&N breather filter element on the end of the hose.

If you have followed these orders to the letter, water will not be as likely to enter the crankcase next time the motor is under water. And that’s only if the airbox breather is kept above the water and the airbox drain valve is functioning properly.


Have you removed the entire airbox in the quest for airflow and horsepower? That is a white flag maneuver, boot. You don’t have a prayer of waterproofing the intake system. If you aren’t willing to reinstall the airbox, the best you can do is to install a water-resistant nylon outer covering (popularized by Outerwears) to help keep the filter dry.
If your factory airbox and intake system is intact, make sure the lid gasket (if your quad’s lid has one) is in place and in good condition, the drain valve is working correctly, intake hoses are installed properly and free from cracks, and the clamps are not over tightened. For the best water protection, the air inlet pipe should be positioned ahead of the fuel tank and up near the handlebars.

Paper filter elements should be removed and used for target practice.
Don’t embarrass yourself by using anything other than an appropriate foam or pleated gauze cleanable filter element. Your cleanable filter must be sprayed with a waterproof filter oil and the filter element covered with a nylon prefilter.

Special note to owners of Yamaha Warriors, Wolverines, Grizzlies and Banshees: Dump the factory air filter seating system and replace it with an aftermarket unit that is not dependent on the proper positioning of the air box lid. Pro Design makes a fine unit.


Any zooter that is constantly exposed to water will eventually get water buildup in the cables. Regular lubrication with Dri-Slide will prevent corrosion from starting. Detach the upper end of all the cables and, using the included needle applicator, drizzle the product inside the cable cover. Don’t forget the handlebar lever pivots. Even the hydraulic brake lever pivot needs a shot. The left handlebar brake cable should be removed and sun-dried. The loop formed as it rounds the steering neck and heads past the carb collects water that must be removed immediately.

Also keep an eye on the choke cable. If you have a cable-operated by-starter type (as opposed to butterfly type), this especially important. “What’s a by-starter?” asks a boot in the back. A by-starter consists of a cable pulling up a piston that opens up a new circuit in the carb to add extra fuel to richen the mixture strength to allow a cold weather start.

Here’s how you maintain it: The black plastic fitting on the carburetor body should be unscrewed and the cable and piston removed. Then the bore should be checked for corrosion. The brass by-starter piston can corrode and freeze to the aluminum walls in the down position if water runs down the cable and pools on top of the piston. A too-lean mixture = no start = you walk.
A note to boots on Blasters: The equalizing bar of the front brakes, as well as the cables themselves, are especially susceptible to waterborne grit. Without frequent lubrication with Dri-Slide, the front brakes won’t engage evenly from side to side. Don’t let me catch you letting this happen.


Drum brakes that are consistently wet because water has entered through the seals should have the drain plug removed permanently. Sure, water will get in. But more importantly, it can get out! That allows the hub and shoes to dry out when you aren’t submarining.
Once a year, remove the brake shoes and pivot cam. Lube the pivot cam and pivoting ends of the shoes with Never-Seize. If the brake cam utilizes a cheap felt seal instead of a rubber one, remove the outer brake arm from the pivot cam, remove the felt and coat both sides liberally with oil before reinstallation.


Remove the calipers and the pads. Clean the calipers and pads. Check the pads for wear and replace them if their tour of duty is up. Slip the pads back on. If you can’t slide the caliper left to right on its slide pins, then the slider pin boots must be removed, the slide pins pounded out and cleaned. Relubricate with marine-grade Never-Seize and install.


For the best possible water protection for your breather hoses, including those for drum brake housings and shaft drive housings?front and rear?position the hoses at least as high as the bottom of the handlebars. There should be a loop of hose with the end pointing back towards the rear of the machine. This creates an air bubble that, on shallow dives, can keep water from entering and running back down the hose to contaminate the housing.


Check your CV boots daily for any tears. Water entry will spell disaster for a CV joint. To prevent destruction of the expensive joint, a replacement boot and grease kit should be installed immediately.


Just as in the crankcase, any water in the oil for the gear cases or differential will discolor it gray or white, depending on the amount of water present. Water in the oil reduces the oil’s film strength and allows metal-to-metal contact of the gears. If this happens in a multi-plate, limited-slip front differential, the friction clutches won’t slip properly during a turn and will create inconsistent steering sensitivity. Fix this problem the same way you fixed it for your motor oil?change it, and keep changing it, until it runs clean. For best results, add one ounce of GM Limited Slip Differential Fluid to the new oil.


Remember, boot, it is easier to keep the enemy outside the wire than to beat them back through a perimeter breach. A machine that is taking on water like the Titanic will leave you stranded, empty your wallet and make me extremely angry with you. Your zooter is depending on you to keep it dry?don’t disappoint it or me!

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