How To Align ATV Handlebars

If the front alignment of an ATV is not right then the rider will face some troubles 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 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 just lend them from 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.

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 for swapping the tie rods. The same is suggested in that case too, tie rods are thus deeply connected to the vehicle’s front end alignment.  

An ATV tire distance getting measured for handlebar alignment problem.
An ATV tire distance getting measured for handlebar alignment problem.

The Process for Aligning the front-end of the ATV

 

Levelling 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 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 levelled 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 atleast make sure the two front side tires are having near about equal tire pressures. 

Handlebar Securing Task

 If you have a friend who can help you out by sitting on the ATV seat then 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 step in the frontend alignment process. 

The measures act more accurate 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 to not fasten the bar so tight that it causes damage to the ATV. Just secure it enough that the handlebar remains steady even if very negligible movements occur.  

Camber checkout

 The camber present in the front tires of your ATV needs to be adjusted for getting the frontend 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 centre portion abutting the axle.

 The bubble needs to be taken into the centre 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 be 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 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 is done the cotter pin and the castle nut need to be fitted in the original format. There are some ATVs that would require bringing out the ball joint from the specific spindle where it gets fixed. 
A group of professionals fixing the ATV adjustments of the handlebar and front-end.
A group of professionals fixing the ATV adjustments of the handlebar and front-end.

 

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. Among these two toe alignments, you need to consult the vehicle service manual. 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 to not 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 right. If the measurements are unequal then adjustments would be required to be implemented in the tie rods for equalizing the measurements. 

Tie Rod Manipulation- Toe rod adjustments if required, you can accomplish it 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 it source it from a friend because if two wrenches are not used the vehicle can get damaged. 

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 would 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 the rods in opposite directions without being unequal in the bending. But when this happens that the Bars are not aligning with the wheels then ATV experts claim that you probably have bent an essential part. For identifying 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 then most probably the pitman has got 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’s going to be the pitman arm. In most ATV forums where this sort of alignment problem of bars with the wheels is mentioned it later on often has been found the fault was with the pitman arm or the steering stem coupler. 

 

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