I bet you’ve noticed that a lot of your machine is held together with bolts. I would argue that most of your machine is held together with bolts. And unlike the other things that hold your machine together (welds), bolts are designed to come apart. They go on the machine and stick pretty well, and they come off the machine without too much fuss whenever you want them too.
Well the convenience of having fasteners that can be unfastened means that while you can do your own maintenance without busting out the grinder, sometimes those bolts will come loose of their own accord. And that can be a problem considering the aforementioned ubiquity of bolts on your machine.
Check your bolts often
So make sure you check your bolts. Most people do a check just once a year, but you should be checking your bolts every few rides at least.
It’s easy. Just grab a wrench and walk around your machine. Check every bolt you can – A arm bolts, tie rod bolts, shock bolts, bumper bolts, etc. If any of them feel loose just tighten them up! Your most common problem bolts will be your shock mounting bolts (pretty important) and your A arm bolts (even more important). Although any bolt can come loose at any time, and I guarantee that the bolt you don’t check is the bolt that will come loose.
Now after you check all your bolts and tighten the 2 or 3 that were loose, you take your machine out for a ride and hear a noise. Every time you hit a bump you hear a loud clunk! Maybe you have a stick or a rock wedged somewhere. Maybe you blew a shock. You know it couldn’t possibly be a loose bolt since you just tightened them all this morning.
Well you’d be wrong. That shock bolt that you tightened this morning is loose again. Now why would that be? Turns out the culprit is your nuts – your nyloc nuts.
Nyloc nuts, if you don’t know, have a nylon collar inside them so that the bolt becomes locked to the nut when it’s tightened down. They’re great and cheap and they’re much more secure than a standard nut.
So yesterday when you took the nyloc nut off of your shock to mess with your A arms, you damaged that nylon collar. This morning it was loose again and when you tightened your loose nyloc nut, the repeated threading of the bolt through the nylon collar deformed it so much that it no longer locks down on the bolt effectively. Now on your ride today, you were just a few bumps away from your shock coming loose and wrecking a lot of stuff when you started hearing the clunking.
Some people will argue that nyloc nuts can be reused over and over again without losing their locking ability. In our experience, that’s not the case. And honestly, we here at SuperATV don’t care about those arguments. One of the most trivially easy things we can do to ensure our ride is safe is to replace nyloc nuts every time we take them off. We’d like to be better safe then sorry, and we’re OK with dropping $5 for a bag of nyloc nuts that will last us months.
So, don’t reuse nyloc nuts! They’re disposable.
Just to make sure we’ve covered all our bases I want to remind you specifically to make sure you check your lug nuts when you check the rest of your bolts. You really don’t want to have your wheel fall off in the middle of a ride for no good reason. Trust me.
I already mentioned the characteristic clunk of a shock mount bolt coming loose, but your machine can make all sorts of noises as you let it fall to pieces. A arm bolts make more of a rattling noise. If your lug nuts are loose it might be more a thumping noise.
You really need to pay attention to the noises of your machine – learn to speak its language made of metal and strain. Then you can hear precisely when your vehicle needs to stop and when it can go a little further.
What if it’s too late to check my bolts?
Maybe it’s too late for you. Maybe you went one day to long without doing a bolt check and now you machine is sitting in your garage in a dozen pieces waiting for replacement parts to come in. Your significant other is complaining because that heap of junk is filling up the garage and they have to park outside and walk through the rain.
If that’s you then SuperATV will be more than happy to help you get out riding again and get your machine healthy enough to move back to the shed. We’ve got a ton of stuff to get your vehicle looking and performing better than ever, and we have super fast shipping so your downtime can be days instead of weeks.
If that’s not you then just be safe and stay in one piece! Have fun riding and leave your worry at home knowing you took care of your machine before you put it on the trailer.