How to service a Honda ATV

They’re one of the most used pieces of kit on any livestock farm, but when was the last time you paid attention to maintaining your ATV? Emily Padfield asks ATV experts Fieldens of Suffolk for their advice

The machine featured in this article is a Honda Foreman 500, but most of the pointers will apply to all Honda ATV models. Those running a different brand of machine could probably pick up a few tips, too.

When brand new, a Honda Foreman 500 should have its first service at 20 hours and then every 100 hours after that.

Common niggles to look for before pulling into the workshop are as follows:

  • What does it sound like? Is it rattling? Does it idle smoothly?
  • What’s changing gear like? Is there a jerk when shifting up or down?
  • Do the brakes stick? Is there any excess travel?
  • Are there any leaks or loose parts?

Engine oil and filter

    • Check the brake fluid level (on this bike it’s the right side of the handlebar)
    • If it’s low there could be a leak or something wrong with the brakes. Brake fluid is DOT 4
    • Brake maintenance depends on whether the bike is fitted with drum brakes or discs and pads

Front pads

    • Remove the front wheel and carry out a visual inspection of hoses and discs
    • Pads need to be checked regularly, particularly if operating in wet and muddy conditions
    • If the wear indicator aligns with the reference arrow, both pads need to be replaced
    • Check the rear brake pedal moves freely – it should have 15mm to 20mm travel

Rear drums

  • Remove wheels and look for the red inspection plug
  • REplace if missing otherwise there’s a risk of contamination
  • Using a flat headed screwdriver, screw the adjuster outwards until you feel resistance
  • Then screw back four or five notches to get the correct tension
  • To adjust any free play, turn the rear pedal adjusting nut on the brake operating rod
  • Make sure the cable is taut and mounted correctly on the brake arm pin


  • Tyre pressures are extremely important on ATVs
  • Under inflated tyres will wear unevenly and have an adverse affect on handling
  • Over inflated tyres are more prone to damage and ride badly
  • Each ATV varies, but this Honda should have 3.6psi in both front and rear tyres
  • Always check pressures when cold and look out for any splits, cracks or bulges
  • Replace when tread depth reaches 4mm


  • Check springs are in tact and not broken
  • Bushes shouldn’t have any play in them
  • Check that CV boots aren’t split
  • Examine springs at the rear and top and bottom of the shock absorber mounts
  • Also check swing arm bearing wear and look for play in bearings and joints
  • Examine the front drive shaft and look for damage on the CV boots


More machinery maintenance advice


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