On average, manufacturers suggest you replace the spark plugs in your ATV every 200 hours or 4,000 miles. At least, this is what Can-Am suggest for their Outlander line of ATVs in 2023.
What I, personally, do is replace the spark plugs every year, no matter the miles, when I do my annual service.
A lot of these manufacturers keep pushing back service intervals just in the name of marketing, and I’m not a fan of that.
Spark plugs are cheap insurance, shoot, I carry an extra pair when I go ride.
I know in some models it can be a pain to replace the spark plugs, but if I’m knee-deep in doing a service anyway, it’s not a huge deal.
What Causes Spark Plugs To Fail
A spark plug in an ATV or side by side can fail for any reason.
While spark plugs are simple, they take a lot of abuse, so replacing them yearly just make sense.
Most of the time, a spark plug fails out of the blue with no warning. You’ll know the spark plug is bad if the engine doesn’t run right, loses power, or struggles to start.
In fact, if I have an ATV that comes in for not starting or running rough, I always replace the spark plugs and 80% of the time that was the problem. You’ll be amazed by how many people spend troubleshooting, and it was something as simple as a bad plug.
Use These Spark Plugs
You want to stick to the spark plugs the manufacturer suggests. Usually, it’s the NGK Spark Plugs. (ad)
Do not buy fancy platinum tipped or whatever BS plugs someone is trying to upsell you on, they’re not worth it.
The boring NGK Spark Plugs are what the manufacturer designed the engine around and work the best. Your time and money is better spent replacing these plugs every year then buying some BS fancy plug that is more like snake oil than anything else.
Do ATV Spark Plugs Get Weaker Overtime?
The spark plugs in your ATV will get weaker over time, but most won’t notice it until the spark plug goes completely bad.
The spark plugs build up carbon on the tips, and over time it gets so baked on that the plugs will stop firing. The carbon will also affect the clearance of the plugs and affect the arc it gives off, leading to worse combustion.
Overall, I suggest replacing the spark plugs every year, especially when you do your routine oil change and service.
A Bad Spark Plug Will Keep An ATV From Starting
A bad spark plug will keep an ATV or side by side from starting.
A bad spark plug will make a engine not idle right or even backfire.
If your ATV has any running or starting issues, one of the first things you should replace are the spark plugs.
Avoid Reusing Spark Plugs, Come on, They’re Cheap
You can reuse the spark plugs, but it’s a bad idea.
Cleaning the spark plugs in your ATV may help, a little, but it’s not worth the effort. If you’re going through the trouble to remove all the plastic to get the plug out, you might as well put new plugs in.
Cleaning the plugs may be worth it if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere, but as a general advice, it’s not smart to clean spark plugs to reuse them.