How to Adjust ATV Shocks Without Tool- A Guide for Beginners

Shocks are part and parcel of the suspension of all-terrain vehicles. These critical components help to provide a smooth ride while ensuring that every part of your ATV remains in tip-top shape. As such, learning how to adjust ATV shocks without a tool is an important skill that will help to enhance your rides.

However, before we talk about adjusting your ATV shocks, it is critical to understand what ATV shocks entails and how they work. Understanding how your machine shock absorber works will enable you to know when it not functioning as expected or when it requires you to make some adjustments.

Understanding ATV shocks

In general, ATV shocks come in two basic forms—hydraulic shocks and gas-based shocks. Hydraulic, also known as oil-filled shocks, are the most commonly used ATV shocks, and they mainly come fitted onto the machine from the manufacturer.

On the other hand, gas shock absorbers are purchased and installed to replace the original shock absorbers. Ideally, gas shock absorbers provide a better suspension and are also softer than their hydraulic counterparts.

Both hydraulic and gas shocks are made up of two major parts – i.e. the springs and dampeners (shock absorbers). The two work hand in hand to ensure the success of your ATV suspension system. For instance, when you hit a bump, the shock absorbers facilitate the compression and decompression of the springs to help ensure you don’t feel the impact directly.

In addition, the shock helps give your tires more traction. This helps to make the bumps much smoother while allowing you to remain in control, especially when accelerating. Without a shock absorber, your quad bike would bounce and wobble constantly, and this can pose a danger, especially when riding on uneven terrains.

ATV Shocks Without Tool

How to adjust ATV shocks without tool

Adjusting malfunctioning or spoilt shocks on the spot is a great way to maintain the overall condition of your ATV and prevent any impending danger. The best thing is that adjusting the shocks does not take a lot of time, and you can feel the difference immediately.

Off-roading often comes with immense pressure, and this can make the shocks wear down eventually. Because of this, the shocks will require to be replaced or adjusted to prevent them from affecting the performance of your ATV.

Inspecting your shock absorbers regularly is critical in determining their condition, and it also allows you to tell if they need to be adjusted or replaced. Some of the tell signs that could point to an issue with your shock absorbers include the;

  • Evidence of gas leaking from the ATV shocks. To help detect if there is gas leakage, you can spray soapy water on any of the seals, and if you notice some bubbles forming, then there is probable gas leakage.
  • Tires wearing out faster than usual
  • Bad shocks can also inhibit the free movement of the piston, so if you’re experiencing problems with the piston, your shock absorbers could be the culprit.
  • Evidence of damaged or damaged springs could also be a symptom of a problem with your ATV shocks.
  • Slow braking
  • Unsteady handlebars could also be a sign of faulty shocks

Now, when it comes to adjusting the shocks of your ATV, you’ll need to gather a few tools and supplies, the most important one being the spanner wrench. But what happens when you can’t access the required spanner wrench on time? Can you adjust ATV shocks without tools?

Yes. It is impossible to adjust shocks without spanner wrench, but the process can be tedious at first. However, once you get the hang of it, the final results are impressive. That said, let’s go through some simple steps for adjusting ATV shocks without a tool.

i. Testing your ATV

Before you do any adjusting, you’ll need to test your quad and see if you can detect anything unusual. You can opt to do a comparison test with an ATV with properly functioning shocks to help you pinpoint the exact problem.

For instance, if you experience unexpected turbulence, it could be a sign of faulty shocks. In addition, if you excessively feel jolted even from minor impacts, then it means that your shocks are compromised and need readjustment.

ii. Preparing the ATV for adjustment

Once you establish that your ATV shocks require a readjustment, you’ll need to ensure that your tires are inflated properly. The tires are the basis of your suspension and the shock absorbers in general. If your tires are deflated or not in optimal condition your shock absorbers won’t be able to work as expected, and no amount of adjusting will help fix the situation.

iii. Adjusting your preload

The first thing you’ll need to do when adjusting your ATV shocks is fine-tuning the preload. The preload simply entails the amount of pressure exerted on your shocks by default. The best thing is that the preload is easy to adjust, even without using any tool. All you need to do is raise your entire ATV off the ground to make it easy to adjust your preload.

Most ATV preloads come with a collar and a ring which allows you to control and adjust the amount of pressure your ATV can exert on the shock absorber. Now to adjust your preload, you can start by loosening the ring using your hands.

If you need to raise the preload, you can achieve this by turning the adjuster ring up. Generally, raising the preload helps to increase the pressure and ride height, thereby making your rides stiffer and less flexible.

On the other hand, if you need to lower your preload, you can achieve this by turning the adjuster ring down. This will help to reduce the pressure, and the result of this is softer rides and increased flexibility. So, if you’re looking to enjoy softer rides, the best way to achieve this is by lowering your preload.

iv. Adjusting the compression

Once you’ve adjusted the preload, the next thing you’ll need to do is to adjust the compression. Compression, just as the name suggests, refers to the compression of the shocks, and it helps to prevent your ATV from bottoming out once you hit a bump.

Adjusting the compression helps to control the speed of the shocks and you can adjust them depending on the trail or track you’re riding on. Ideally, the ATV suspension will include an adjustment knob, and this is what you’ll need to use to adjust the compression damping.

The best compression adjustment will vary depending on how tough or smooth your terrains are, but we recommend keeping the compression within the specified rate to avoid bottoming out. For instance, if you set your compression too loose, your ATV will become too bouncy, and you risk bottoming out quite often.

On the other hand, if you set your compression too tight, your machine might become too stiff, and you’ll also have less control of your ATV. As such, it is always a good idea to establish a good compression balance that will allow you to optimize your ATV for different terrains.

v. Adjusting the rebound

Basically, rebound relates to the way your ATV reacts after compression. Remember, the purpose of the spring is to ensure that the shock absorbers go back (rebound) into the initial position after hitting a bumpy surface.

The rebound can happen more slowly or quickly, and this is what the adjustment seeks to address. The best way to determine if your rebound is too loose or tight is by testing your vehicle by hitting a small bump and observing how the suspension behaves.

For instance, if your suspension stays in a compressed state for an unexplainable period, there is a chance that the rebound is too tight. On the other hand, if your vehicle bounces too fast (i.e. ATV feeling bouncy than usual) before the suspension settles, then the rebound could be too loose.

To adjust the rebound, you’ll just need to use the rebound adjuster often found at the bottom of the shock absorber. To tighten the rebound, simply turn the knob in an anti-clockwise direction, but you must be careful not to make it too tight.

If you need to loosen the rebound, you’ll just need to dial the same knob in a clockwise direction. To determine if the rebound is dialed in correctly, you can try and hit a bump, and if your suspension responds promptly without necessarily having to bounce down and up, then you’re good to go.

Also Read: How to Shift Semi-Automatic ATV: A Handy Guide

Time to enjoy your ride!

There you go! With the above tips, we now believe that you now understand how to adjust your ATV shocks without the ATV shock tool. All you need to do is turn some knobs and you’re good to go. In addition, our guide has made it easy to understand the primary shock adjustments you need to make and how to go about them. These adjustments offer a perfect combination of lush and performance while providing you with excellent traction and control.

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