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How can water get in my ATV’s gas tank?

There are many ways in which water can get into your ATV’s tank. If you go out for a ride, for example, there are higher chances that you drive your ATV through puddles, which makes the water splash and reach the gas tank.

Driving through areas where there are streams or rivers means a higher risk of exposing the ATV to water. Also, you might sometimes forget to close your ATV’s gas tank before parking it. If it rains outside, even a little bit, water can get in the tank.

The more you use your ATV, the more you expose it to different off-road conditions. These vehicles are resistant, and they are made to be driven on bumpy roads. However, they too can get damaged, and water in the gas tank could harm your ATV’s engine.

To increase your chances of protecting your gas tank from water, you should not ride the ATV too deep and always strive to keep the air filter and the exhaust out of the water. If you cross a stream or puddle, try to do it at a point where the water level is beneath these elements.

Another possible cause of water in the gas tank is a faulty tank cap that doesn’t seal properly. In this case, the water can also condense and reach the gas tank. If you want to avoid this, simply check the tank cap to make sure it seals correctly and it is tight.

Regardless of how water got into your gas tank, you should eliminate it before you start the engine. It is not hard to do this, and it doesn’t take a lot of time either. By following the steps we will provide below, you will be able to do this quickly.


Can I start my engine if there is water in the tank?

However, before you learn how to get water out of your ATV’s gas tank, you might want to know what the possible consequences of not doing this are. Could your ATV get damaged and stop working? Will it ruin your engine? The answers are ‘yes’ and ‘yes’. Your engine can get damaged because of the water in the tank, consequently making it impossible for you to ride your ATV.

Here are some of the possible damages water in the gas tank may cause. It can ruin your piston or piston ring: the piston’s role is to help the engine ignite; this happens automatically when there is a combination of air and fuel in the combustion chamber that makes the piston move up in order to enable compression and the subsequent ignition.

In the presence of water, the piston will still try to perform the same task and fail because water cannot be compressed. If the piston’s ring gets damaged in this process, you will need to replace it, which takes more time and effort than eliminating the water in the gas tank.

If there is much water in the tank, it is also possible to have your engine hydro-locked. This means that it will not start at all as it cannot ignite. The engine’s internal parts, such as the crankshaft rods can suffer damages in this situation, requiring thorough examination and repairs.

However, having your engine completely blocked happens rarely, more precisely, only if there really is a lot of water inside the combustion chamber. And if you believe this might have happened, you can check to see if the crankshaft still works by unscrewing the spark plug.


How do I know there is water in my gas tank?

There are a few signals your engine will send out if it becomes affected by the water that leaked through the gas tank. If there is water in the combustion chamber, you will get a weaker explosion as you try to ignite the engine. Alternatively, the spark plug might not be able to cause any explosion at all. 

As a result, there could be several issues that signal this problem. One of the most common is feeling that the ATV has a rough acceleration. Another potential symptom of water in the gas tank is getting a slower acceleration. Because of the water in the chamber, the engine’s power is diminished, and your acceleration becomes weaker.

Another signal is getting misfires, which are caused by the water that found its way into the combustion chamber. You might also see steam coming out of the exhaust as a result of the water in the chamber that evaporates.


How do I get water out of my ATV’s gas tank?

To get the water out of your gas tank, you should first start by checking the air filter. If this is wet, you will not be able to successfully get the other steps done correctly and start the engine back again. If you see the filter is wet, which is quite likely, get it out of the air box, wipe it wait until it dries.

It is possible to use the same filter if it can dry completely, both inside and outside. If you don’t want to wait or it’s not possible, you can proceed directly to changing the air filter.  

Step number two is draining the fuel tank and the fuel lines. After you do this, you should also clean your engine’s carburetor, and remove the oil filter, which automatically implies draining the oil too.

After the oil filter is removed and there is no more oil in your engine, you have to proceed to step three – removing the water from the cylinder. To do this, you will first have to take out the spark plugs. Then, you need to turn the engine over. Do this a few times in a row.

If there is any water left, it should come out at this stage. However, most of it should have been eliminated already in the previous steps. After you are done, it’s time for the engine to be filled again. Refill it with the necessary amount of oil and then install a new oil filter. Next, turn the engine over, but make sure that the spark plugs are not back on yet.

This is recommended because you will want to check the oil again after you’ve waited for a couple of minutes to verify if there is any water left that might get mixed with the new oil. If there is any, you will see some areas of white color on the oil’s surface. It is unlikely to still have water in the gas tank, but if this happens, you should resume the same steps to eliminate it.

Finally, once you’ve gone through all these stages, it is time to reattach the spark plugs, refill the tank with fresh fuel, and start your engine. Let it run for a couple of minutes and if everything seems alright, you’ve done a good job eliminating the water from the gas tank.  


Can I keep water from getting into the gas tank?

If you don’t want to let water get to your gas tank, you should avoid taking your ATV out on or right after rainy days and also be careful when you drive it through muddy soil or nearby rivers. Nonetheless, you have to accept the fact that there will be areas where you will not be able to avoid water completely.

Another possibility you can opt for is equipping your ATV with a snorkel kit. This would allow you to cross areas that are covered by water, while protecting your gas tank and, therefore, your engine from any related damages.

Driving your ATV might be your favorite pastime, so it is worth paying attention to every detail related to this vehicle if you want to be able to enjoy it in the long run. Making sure you eliminate the water from your gas tank is one way of taking care of your ATV.  



A passionate admirer of all-leather Harley merchandise, Irina can help readers better understand the world of motorcycles. From the latest fashion trends to trip ideas for your next bike vacay, you will find everything you need to know about your two-wheel passion on this website.

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