Gas in oil atv

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Studies show that many American ATV owners are under the age brackets of 30-49 years.


What is the Right Fuel, Gas and Oil for ATV?

This stat confirms that ageingng and getting richer are two factors that can motivate people to buy four-wheelers. Even so, an ATV is an excellent investment for any kind of person, young or old. Yes, the reliability, flexibility and productivity of an all-terrain vehicle are worth your hard-earned money.

But for the investment to bloom, you’ll need the correct user information for your ATV model. Here’s a comprehensive guide on ATV fuels and oils:

What’s the Right Fuel for Your ATV?

Well, there many factors that determine the appropriate fuel for your specific ATV model.

Nonetheless, most ATVs guzzle regular 87 octane gasoline but can perform optimally with the pricier 91 or 89 octane fuel. In other words, the higher the quality of fuel, the better your engine will perform.

Also, some four-wheelers only use premium fuel. So filling them up with regular fuel can damage their engines. Check the manual to confirm your quad’s model, then use that piece of info to determine what grade of fuel is best to use.

Another factor that determines what oil and fuel to put in your ATV is whether it’s a 2-stroke or 4-stroke. Generally, a 2-stroke ATV is more complex than a 4-stroke one because it requires you to mix the gasoline and oil together since the engine lacks an oil reservoir.

As such, it’s advisable to use only premium fuel for two strokes because they operate at a greater compression rate. This means not buying anything lower than 91 octane fuel.

What’s the Octane Rating?

Also known as octane number, octane rating simply stands for the amount of compression a specific kind of fuel can withstand without igniting.

In other words, the higher a fuel’s octane rating, the more compression it will withstand. If fuel gets compressed until it lights up, the resultant fire will damage the engine.

This is a phenomenon that’s quite prevalent with gasoline ATVs and its one reason you ought to be extra careful about the fuel you buy.

Other reasons why you should only the right fuel for you quad include:

Engine Knocks

Theoretically, miss-fueling your ATV is like pouring poison into the body.

It causes serious malfunctions with one of the biggest hazard being engine knocks. Knocking occurs when there’s an incorrect fuel-air mixture. This makes the fuel ignite in uneven pockets, instead of a uniform burst.

Left untreated, knocking will cause cylinder wall and piston damage.

Poor Engine Performance

Many a time, miss-fueling will ultimately lead to a reduced ATV engine performance.

This comes in the form of uneven power delivery, erratic engine reactions, and frequent emission of white smoke.

Reduced Fuel Economy

Lower octane fuel burns faster than higher octane gas.

In this case, buying cheaper fuel can actually turn out to be an expensive endeavour.

The Preference for High-Grade, Non-Ethanol Fuel

Many ATV enthusiasts believe that 87-grade gasoline (with or without ethanol) is all that you require for your quad.

To them, buying a better grade is merely a waste of money. These guys even assume that the 87-grade gasoline is ideal for all ATVs because it doesn’t burn too hot, thus posing less risk of combustion through the piston.

On the other hand, some preach that non-ethanol gasoline, and especially 91-grade fuel, is the best for ATVs. This stems from the belief that ethanol gasoline can affect your engine’s fuel economy and power. Additionally, they fear that using lower grade gasoline results in many little engine issues.

At the end of the day, it’s best to settle for what the manufacturer recommends.  But if your engine is experiencing some knocks, buying a higher grade fuel can cure it.

Bad Fuel Symptoms

If you’re yet to experience fuel problems when riding your ATV, here a several signs to watch out for:

  • You always have to extend the ignition choke for the quad to start
  • The engine fails to rev properly and behaves like it’s starving for fuel
  • The engine keeps stumbling before dying out, especially as it idles without any throttle input. This is usually a sign that the fuel you’re using has debris or water.
  • Fuel leakage from the carburettor even if the petcock is on.

Other symptoms of bad fuel include hard starts, surging, and loss of power.

How to Prevent ATV Fuel Problems?

On top of buying a higher grade fuel, you ought to:

Use Additives

Additives are extremely reliable when it comes to protecting your engine from lower octane fuel.

Remember, low-cost octane fuel has contaminants that pose a great risk to ATV engines, and especially carbureted ones. This is because carburettors normally have jets (small tiny ports) that can clog up quickly. If anything, additives go a long way in cleaning these the jets.

What’s more, additives also act as fuel stabilizers and thus help reduce engine knocks in addition to increasing fuel economy. One of the most popular additives used by quad enthusiast is Seafoam.

This highly recommended product is easy to find at your nearest repair store. Alternatively, you can go for STA-BIL, an additive designed to keep fuel fresh for longer. STA-BIL is quite useful for guys who don’t ride their quads often.

All in all, you might want to use an engine cleaner if your four-wheeler is showing signs of bad fuel use. But don’t use too much as it will cause piston damage due to the excess heat.

Hack the ECU Computer

Most modern ATVs come with ‘car’ computers known as ECUs.

These components control essential functions of the bike and you can hack into them to change your quad’s preferred gas source. You can visit ATV forums to confirm if your model has any performance-based ECU tune.

So if you can’t afford to purchase high-grade fuel all the time, this is one option that will save you when using low-grade gas.

Can You Use E85 Gas in ATV?

The E85 is a high-level ethanol-gasoline blended gas that contains 51% to 83% ethanol.

There’s this belief among many ATV enthusiasts that E85 gas can ruin the engine. But it all depends on the ATV model you’re using. Most old models don’t show any signs of problems with E85.

Which is the Best Oil for Your ATV?

With an ATV, you have the liberty to choose which type of motor oil to utilize.

But some oils work better with specific types of engines. Even so, there are three main types of oil you can use:

  • Conventional Motor Oil- Formulated from mineral (all-natural) base stocks.
  • Synthetic motor oil- Made using man-made, chemical compounds. Synthetic motor oil can withstand rigorous conditions and are easier to make than conventional oils.
  • Semi-synthetic motor oil- These oils are a blend of synthetic and conventional oils. They are basically seventy per cent conventional oils and thirty per cent synthetic oils.

What’s more, motor oils for UTVs, dirt bikes, and ATVs, get made using similar principles to those truck or car oils.

The Society of Automotive Engineers rates all these oils as per their viscosity, using then following grades: 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, and 60. Grades 0 to 20 oil products have the sign ‘W’, which stands for winter.

For instance, in a 10W30 oil, the number ten stands for the flow rate of the oil when it’s cold. The number 20 represents the flow rate when the oil is hot.

As such, higher viscosity oils work best in a hotter climate, since the main job of a motor lubricant is to minimize heat.

Choosing ATV Oils

Most quad engines feature a lot of plastic, which is why you ought to go for a product that will match the hot temperatures in a covered engine.

If you happen to put the wrong oil, your machine won’t function optimally. What’s more, you may face issues like overheating problems, stuck piston rings, extensive cam wear, bearing failure, wet clutch application, poor fuel mileage, poor throttle response.

So it’s advisable to always buy premium oils to help your engine perform adequately. With many 4-strokes, the 10w40 will work best. But be more careful with 2-strokes, as these quads demand that you only use gasoline and oil specified for them.

If your quad features a wet clutch, makes sure to use wet-clutch compatible oil only.

Conclusion – Use Appropriate Oil and Gas

Clearly, the fuel and lubricant you choose determine how well your quad will function.

To figure out the best products for your ATV model, first, start by looking at the manufacturer’s specifications in the manual.

You can also ask around in online forums to realize your quad’s engine specifications. If you find that your four-wheeler requires premium fuel, avoid using anything less as it will breed engine problems.

All in all, you can prevent fuel and oil problems by being hands-on. This includes being alert for any tale-tell signs of problems and taking the necessary measures to mitigate them.

Updated: March 31, 2020


It seems like a stupid question, but I felt like a complete idiot the first time I drove up to a gas station to fill up an ATV and realized I had no idea what type of gasoline to put into it.  Prior to that point I had always driven ATVs that were full of gas and I was never the person in charge of buying the gas or adding oil.  So if you are reading this article, don’t feel like a complete newbie, we have all been there before!

Luckily, the answer here is pretty simple…mostly.  For most four-stroke ATVs, you can use regular gasoline, grade 87 or above, from your local gas station.  If you don’t know the recommendation for your ATV, opt for 89 grade unless the 87 grade is ethanol free.  For oil, simply use 10w40 and change it a couple times a year.  If you have a two-stroke ATV, the answer is a little more complicated.  On a two-stroke ATV, you will need to mix gasoline with oil specifically designed for two-stroke engines and then use that gasoline-oil blend in your ATV.  While the answer seems mostly simple, there are a lot more considerations with putting gasoline into an ATV than with filling up your average car.  With those considerations, there are also some different and strongly-contested opinions.  While I will do my best to address all the key points, you should consult your owner’s manual or a mechanic if you have concerns about your specific ATV.

Read Your Owner’s Manual

To be sure you are putting the right kind of gasoline in your ATV, the easiest thing to do is consult your owner’s manual.  Of course, I would recommend reading your owner’s manual first thing with a new ATV regardless so that you can be confidant with how everything works on your specific ATV.  If you are lucky, your ATV might also have a sticker on the actual body of the ATV that tells you the minimum grade gasoline to use.  That comes in handy, especially when you are not riding your own ATV or when you buy a used ATV without an owner’s manual.  It is worth noting, however, that you will probably be able to find the owner’s manual online for most any ATV our there so if you buy a used ATV or are really worried about putting the right gasoline in a borrowed ATV, that is a resource you can use.  Most manuals I have seen recommend 87 grade or higher so you can be pretty confident with that unless you are riding a high-performance ATV or UTV.  It should be noted, however, that many of the ATV manuals will only recommend 87-grade gasoline if there is no ethanol in it, but actually recommend 89 or 91 grade gasoline if it has ethanol.  If you have an added performance kit with your ATV, it should tell you if a higher grade gasoline is needed.

4 Stroke Versus 2 Stroke

As discussed above, the big difference when it comes to gasoline and oil depends on whether you have a 4-stroke or 2-stroke ATV.  The 4 stroke is going to be much easier to maintain and is probably the right choice for ninety percent of ATV riders.  With the  4-stroke ATV, there is a lubricating oil pan, typically located at the bottom of the engine, that makes it so that you can use straight gasoline from your local gas station and  only need to change the oil a couple times a year.

The 2-stroke ATV is much more needy.  Because the 2-stroke engine does not have an oil reservoir to lubricate moving parts, they require oil to be added to the burning gasoline so that the internal parts are coated with oil during combustion.  While this requires more work, it does not have to be a huge burden as you can mix the oil and gas in a gas can ahead of time to ensure you have an even mixture and to save time when you need to refuel the ATV.

As I said above, the 4-stroke ATV is going to be desirable for most ATV riders that want to keep it simple to operate with lower maintenance and cheaper cost.  They also tend to have a higher top speed and can generate more power for towing heavy loads or carrying more weight.  That being  said, there are some very good reasons why some ATV riders prefer owning a 2-stroke ATV. A 2-stroke engine will rev quicker, causing it to accelerate faster because it takes fewer rotations of the crank to complete a cycle.  Because of this, 2-stroke ATVs are often favored by those that race ATVs.

Preference for Higher Grade, Non-Ethanol Gasoline

This a pretty heated debate among ATV enthusiasts.  Many claim 87 grade gasoline, with or without ethanol, is all you need and buying anything more is just a waste of money.  Some will even claim 87 grade is better for your ATV because it does not burn as hot, thereby posing less risk of burning through your piston.  Nevertheless, even those that believe higher octane gasoline is not necessary usually recognize that the higher-grade gasoline is a good cure for an engine experiencing a case of the knocks.

On the other side, there are many ATV enthusiasts that preach non-ethanol gasoline and generally prefer at least 91 grade gasoline for most ATVs. Many claim that there are many little engine issues that can stem from using lower grade gasoline with ethanol.  There are also claims that the ethanol in the gasoline will rob your engine of both power and fuel economy.  Another thing to be aware of is that a carbureted engine is more likely to be affected by low-grade gasoline than is a fuel-injected engine.

I generally come down in the middle somewhere.  I don’t mind shelling out a few extra dollars for better gas, but I also won’t insist on it for most normal ATVs where 87-grade gasoline is recommended by the manufacturer.  That being said, there are high-performance ATVs and UTVs out there that really do require higher-grade gasoline.  In the end, I say just go with what your manufacturer recommends and you will probably be safe.

If you decide non-ethanol gasoline is your preference, Pure Gas is a dang helpful website that lists gas stations around the country that offer non-ethanol gasoline.

A Few Points on Oil

For most 4-stroke ATVs, 10w40 oil is going to work just fine, but, once again, you are going to want to check your owner’s manual.  As addressed above, oil in a 2-stroke ATV is a different ball game.  With a 2-stroke ATV, you need to make sure you are using gasoline specifically made for 2-stroke engines.  Another thing you need to be aware of if you have a high-performance or racing ATV is that the ATV may have a wet clutch.  If it does have a wet clutch, special wet-clutch compatible oil is required.


While not very common, there are diesel ATVs and UTVs available. A diesel engine is going to be available more with UTVs than ATVs, but with a diesel engine, you are obviously going to want to put diesel gasoline in it.  Diesel engines can be desirable to some because diesel engines produce more torque, and thus more power, for towing and hauling. Additionally, diesel engines typically get higher fuel mileage, which makes them great for camping and or longer trail riding.

Gasoline Additives

Gasoline additives are very popular with ATV riders, especially fuel cleaning additives when using gasoline with ethanol.  Running gasoline additives in every tank is said to counteract the negatives of the ethanol.  This is because the additives act as a fuel stabilizer and help clean the carburetor and combustion chamber.  While many ATV owners use the additive in every tank, others only think it is necessary if your engine is acting up or experiencing the dreading knock.

Seafoam is probably the most popular gasoline additive used by ATV enthusiasts.  It is going to be easy to find  at your local store and most ATV owners swear by it, but there are some who prefer other brands such as Restore Fuel System Restorer.  Some signs that you probably want to use a fuel cleaner:

  • The ATV is hard to start, meaning the engine takes more time to get started than it used to.
  • The engine only runs with the choke fully pulled out. This could also be a sign that the carburator needs to be cleaned, but it is worth it to try fuel cleaners to see if it solves the problem.
  • The engine does not rev up as quickly or powerful as it used to.
  • The engine does not idle smoothly or just shuts off when in idle.

STA-BIL is another additive you should know about.  STA-BIL is designed to keep gas fresh as long as possible. Because of this, STA-BIL is great for those that don’t get to ride their ATVs very often.  So, if you plan on leaving gasoline in your ATV for more than a month between rides, or if you store spare gasoline in cans, it is helpful to add some STA-BIL to the gasoline to keep it fresh.

A warning about engine additives.  You do want to avoid using too much octane booster in your ATVs as they cause added heat that can actually burn a hole in the top of the piston.

It seems like a stupid question, but I felt like a complete idiot the first time I drove up to a gas station to fill up an ATV and realized I had no idea what type of gasoline to put into it.  Prior to that point I had always driven ATVs that were full of gas and I was never the person in charge of buying the gas or adding oil.  So if you are reading this article, don’t feel like a complete newbie, we have all been there before!

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A lot of times, in a carbureted engine, the oil will smell like gas because it probably does get a little gas in it, over time, especially if it's not jetted right or if it floods sometimes. Fuel injection is going to be more accurate at delivering the correct amount of fuel to the engine than the carb is.

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Subsequently, one may also ask, why does my four wheeler oil smell like gas?

1. Fuel mixture too rich. The main cause of why your gas is getting into the engine oil is that your fuel mixture is too rich. There could be several sensors or other problems causing the fuel mixture to get too rich.

Additionally, what happens if gas gets in oil? If a large amount of gasoline does get into the engine oil; change the oil immediately upon fixing the problem that has allowed this to happen. This results in a significant reduction in the oil's viscosity, which affects engine lubrication and causes scoring of the cylinder walls along with bearing failure.

Likewise, is it normal for oil to smell like gas?

Causes Why Oil Smells Like GasBut a small amount of fuel leaks into the engine oil through that seal, which is completely normal. A great amount of fuel can flow down into the oil pan when the piston rings are worn or the cylinder chamber does not ignite correctly.

How can you tell if you have gas in your oil?

Drip some of the dipstick on a clean piece of paper towel and if there is a different shaded ring around the outside you have fuel in the oil. If you fudged a seal the crank level will fill in short order, few minutes it should be obvious.


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Atv oil gas in

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Seafoam ATV Update

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