7 Good Reasons Not to Leave Mud on Your ATV

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The cleanup afterward is undoubtedly my least favorite part of ATV mudding. I understand how it can be tempting to leave the ATV as it is, full of mud; after all, it’ll get just as muddy the next time, right?

In this post, we’ll look at why cleaning your ATV after a muddy ride is more important for more than the bike’s appearance and why it is a bad idea to leave your ATV covered in mud for extended periods. 

The ATV Becomes Harder to Clean

Allowing layer upon layer of mud to build up and dry will make it much harder to clean your ATV later. 

Depending on the composition of the mud, it can become as hard as concrete when it dries up, and you are much better off cleaning it off while it is still fresh.

Mud can be washed off relatively easily from most surfaces while still wet, but removing it becomes much more challenging once it dries, even with a powerful pressure washer.

So, unless you enjoy the tedious task of scrubbing down old mud stains thoroughly embedded into the plastic surface, make it a habit to clean it after every ride.

Related: How to Keep Your ATV Clean and Looking Like New

Mud Can Stain Paints

Depending on the soil composition, the mud can be acidic or alkaline. Acidic dirt can etch, and damage painted surfaces. Mud with excess alkaline pH levels leaves a chalky film that is hard to remove. 

Mud Can Stain Aluminum

Depending on mineral composition and pH level, mud mixed with acid rain can stain and etch unpainted aluminum surfaces like wheels or the engine block.

Technically speaking, what happens is a form of corrosion that can only be removed with proper polish.

In severe cases, polishing is insufficient to restore the factory’s shine. Your best bet to keep your aluminum parts from corroding is to keep them as clean as possible.

Mud Is a Breeding Ground for Corrosion

Mud, dirt, and grime hold moisture for a long time, promoting and accelerating corrosion in exposed metal parts of your ATV.

This includes nicks in the paint on the frame, brakes, bolts, and suspension components. 

That is why removing mud and not allowing it to sit is essential to preventing corrosion on your ATV.

Increased Wear in Joints, Bearings, and Bushings

An ATV packed with mud is more likely to get dirt into bearings, bushings, axle joints, drive chains, and other moveable parts, increasing the wear rate and reducing the service life of the affected components. 

Mud Can Reduce ATV Performance & Handling

Mud buildup in the brakes can severely reduce the ATV’s braking performance, and mud caked into the wheels or suspension components can negatively affect handling. 

Mud buildup near the air intake can restrict airflow into the engine, negatively impacting performance. 

Mud Can Contaminate the Air Filter

A clean air filter is essential to maintain engine performance and prevent premature engine wear.

When an ATV is full of mud, there is a higher risk of dirt entering the airbox and contaminating the air filter or possibly getting into the engine, where it can cause severe wear and damage. 

How to Prevent Mud From Sticking to Your ATV

To make your life easier, it might be a good idea to coat your ATV with a sealer before you go mudding.

The sealer prevents the mud from sticking as much, and the ATV becomes much easier to clean. Your future self will thank you. 

The Bottom Line

Leaving an ATV covered in mud will deteriorate its appearance rapidly, negatively affecting its resale value. Additionally, this can lead to damage and increased wear due to corrosion or dirt infiltrating the moving parts of the ATV.

Whether you care about the looks of your ATV or not, you should clean it thoroughly each time you’ve been playing in the mud. 

Related: 7 Ways Mudding Is Bad for Your ATV & How to Avoid Damage

Haavard Krislok
Haavard Krislok
Haavard Krislok is an ATV and off-road enthusiast with a rich background spanning two decades in owning, maintaining, repairing, and utilizing ATVs for farming, logging, and hunting. Outside his professional life as an engineer and project manager, he cherishes recreational trail riding and is the creative force behind BoostATV.com, serving as its owner, editor, and content creator.

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