If the front alignment of an ATV is not right, then the rider will face some trouble while riding. The most common problem riders face is the inclination of the ATV towards the side, along with slight shaking of the handlebars when riding off-road.
Expert ATV riders also stated that the faults in the front alignment would also bring deterioration to the tires of the vehicle. The wearing of the tires will be in uneven format leading to replacement needs.
This means an ATV front alignment fault isn’t something that you can ignore and carry on with smooth riding. But don’t get too stressed either; this kind of fault can be fixed on your own if you read the rest of the process that will be mentioned here.
The front-end alignment fixation of your ATV can be done by yourself without leaving your ATV at a sophisticated garage with heavy expenditures on the way.
Only some basic tools will be required, which you already might have in your garage; if not, then lend them to somebody.
According to the instructions given by several ATV companies after purchase, the ATV would be needing a front alignment every month.
But expert mechanics and ATV enthusiasts also claim it to be much more than needed. Getting it done every six months would be perfect for keeping your ATV in perfect shape.
The Process for Aligning the front-end of the ATV
Many ATV owners suggest the yearly maintenance never gets skipped, and getting it done before the trail riding season seems to be the ideal choice.
The expert mechanics recommended another suitable time for setting the front alignment of your quad. If the tie rods go through any kind of change in your vehicle, then doing an alignment check is the ideal next step. Many times the necessity arises for the ATV rider to swap the tie rods.
The same is suggested in that case, too. Tie rods are thus deeply connected to the vehicle’s front-end alignment.
Leveling the All-Terrain Vehicle
This means finding a smooth and even spot without elevation or inclinations and parking your ATV there. Make sure it’s not a spot in the driveway to the roadway where the necessity of removing your vehicle would arrive in just a few minutes.
The ideal place would be in your house garage or front driveway, where you often park your ATV or car. If you live in a region where there isn’t much of a road and the region’s ground is very wild, then the preferred option should be to use a jack.
Just like you do in case of a puncture, elevate one side of the ATV and try to make it properly leveled for moving onto the next step of front-end ATV alignment. The next step will be a checking process of the tires.
The pressure in the tires needs to be checked if they are in the normal inflation state, which you keep while riding into the wild trails. Just make sure the side-to-side tire pressure is equal or not. The backside and the front side usually wouldn’t match, and that’s perfectly fine.
Do not waste time trying to equalize all tire pressures. Even if the backside tire pressures do not match, at least ensure the two front-side tires have nearly equal tire pressures.
Handlebar Securing Task
If you have a friend who can help you by sitting on the ATV seat, you can ignore the task of securing the handlebars.
Sometimes the handlebar shifts in position several times throughout the process and distorts the measurements which you might have been working with.
The task of the person sitting on the ATV would be to just hold the handlebars straight. Having a friend has another advantage for this particular front-end alignment step.
The measures act more accurately as during the riding time there also be someone at the seat. You need to get an elastic strap. Otherwise, that can be used to cover both the hooks present at the handlebars and then extend the ratchet through the grab bar present at the rear.
Be sure not to fasten the bar so tight that it causes damage to the ATV. Just secure it enough that the handlebar remains steady even if negligible movements occur.
The camber present in the front tires of your ATV needs to be adjusted to get the front-end alignment of the vehicle to be completed properly.
Even at times of maintenance service, the camber is oftentimes ignored. You should do it yourself and don’t depend upon mechanics and garages for this. A level needs to get placed against the tire side in a vertical format while being much close to the center portion abutting the axle.
The bubble needs to be taken into the center of the level, and this has to be carried out after the level is placed against the bottom end of the tire towards the outside region.
Measurement needs to be carried out after this gap measurement between the top portion of the tire and the level top.
Based on the type and size of your ATV, the measurement should be a range of 0.2 to 0.8 inches. You need to know that depending upon the brand and the capacity of the ATV, cambers are going to differ.
If you witness the camber not being within the proper measurement, you can need to make adjustments by the following steps.
- First, you need to check on the castle nut present in the camber. You need to get the cotter pin out from the nut present at the ball joint right where the connection to the upper arm happens.
- The ball joint requires to be adjusted using the ideal size of the wrench. By screwing the ball joint towards the inside or outside, an ideal value point can be reached for the camber.
- After the adjustment, the cotter pin and the castle nut must be fitted in the original format. Some ATVs would require bringing out the ball joint from the specific spindle where it gets fixed.
The dual-toe measurement
After adjusting the camber, you are much done with the vertical alignment of the vehicle. For the horizontal adjustment, you need to provide ATV with a ‘toe out’ or ‘toe in kind’ alignment process.
You need to consult the vehicle service manual among these two toe alignments. This step would let you perfectly align the wheels even if more than one turns out to be faulty in adjustments.
An iron rod type of straight object is required that would be strong enough not to bend on any portion. This object needs to be held against the front side tires and also the rear ones.
The distance needs to be measured with precision from the rear to the front tires, and then it needs to be checked-in value with the distance from the left tire to the right. If the measurements are unequal, then adjustments would be required to be implemented in the tie rods to equalize the measurements.
Tie Rod Manipulation- Toe rod adjustments, if required, you can accomplish only with the tie rods.
First, you need to loosen up the tie rod ends by making the lock nuts get loosened by wrench use. Get two wrenches for this task, use one to get the lock nut out, and the other wrench will be used for holding the tie rod in a single position.
Don’t try this by using only one wrench; if you don’t have one, source it from a friend because the vehicle can get damaged if two wrenches are not used.
Once the task with the lock nut is finished, you can adjust the tie rods. The tie rod adjustments can be implemented by anti-clockwise spinning or clockwise spinning as well until the desired toe measurement is achieved.
After the toe-out or toe-in has been adjusted perfectly to the ideal position, it becomes possible to tighten up the far-end nuts in the tie rod, and the process will get completed.
When Bars are not aligned with the wheels
The tie rods can be easily adjusted when the bars are not well aligned. You need to adjust both rods in opposite directions without being unequal in the bending.
But when the Bars are not aligning with the wheels, ATV experts claim that you probably have bent an essential part. To identify it, you need to know that it’s probably between a steering shaft, tie rod, or handlebars.
If you don’t find a bent among these, the pitman probably has slipped, or the threads along the tie rod are pulled.
If, from basic alignments, you are able to determine that the fault doesn’t remain in the bars and tie rods, then most ATV experts suggest checking the coupler of the steering stem.
If that also seems fine, then it will be the pitman’s arm. In most ATV forums where this sort of alignment problem of bars with the wheels is mentioned, it has often been found that the fault was with the pitman arm or the steering stem coupler.
What are the common problems faced by riders if the front alignment of an ATV is not correct?
If the front alignment of an ATV is not right, riders often face issues like the ATV inclining towards one side and slight shaking of the handlebars, especially when riding off-road. Incorrect alignment can also lead to uneven tire wear, necessitating tire replacement.
How often should the front alignment of an ATV be checked or adjusted?
While some ATV companies recommend a monthly front alignment, expert mechanics and ATV enthusiasts believe that getting it done every six months is sufficient to keep the ATV in optimal condition.
What is the significance of tie rods in ATV front-end alignment?
Tie rods play a crucial role in the vehicle’s front-end alignment. If there’s any change in the tie rods or if they are swapped, it’s essential to check and adjust the alignment. They are deeply connected to the vehicle’s front-end alignment process.
How can one ensure that the ATV is properly leveled for front-end alignment?
To level the ATV, find a smooth and even spot without elevation and park the ATV there. Use a jack to elevate one side of the ATV if the ground is uneven. Ensure that the tire pressures are nearly equal on both front-side tires.
What steps should be taken if the ATV handlebars do not align with the wheels?
If the handlebars are not aligning with the wheels, it’s possible that an essential part, such as the steering shaft, tie rod, or handlebars, is bent. If these parts are fine, the issue might be with the pitman arm or the steering stem coupler. Adjustments can be made to the tie rods, but if the problem persists, it’s recommended to check the steering stem coupler or the pitman arm.