How To Tighten Chain On ATV?

If the chain on your ATV is too loose, you may experience some jerky movement when accelerating. You may also hear a clicking noise caused by the chain missing some of the teeth in the sprocket. 

The worst that can happen is the chain coming right off. 

Luckily, ATV chains are designed to be tightened easily at home with basic tools. You don’t need to take it to the dealer or a garage. 

Just be careful not to overtighten, since that’s also bad for the chain and the sprocket. A too-tight chain will cause the sprocket to wear quickly. It can also affect suspension. If it’s too tight, the chain can break. 

Here’s how to tighten your ATV’s chain just the right amount. 

How to Tighten the Chain on a Four Wheeler?

How do you tighten a chain on a four wheeler

Below is just a general guide for tightening your ATV’s chain. Some of the steps may be different for your particular four wheeler. 

Before you do anything, get your ATV service manual and flip to the chain adjustment section for the exact process for your ATV. You’ll also need to know how much slack your ATV can tolerate. 

Next, collect all the tools you need. You’ll need a wrench or an allen key, depending on the kind of bolts  on the hub at the rear of the ATV.  You’ll also need a smaller wrench for the adjuster bolt. 

Check your ATV’s manual for the right tool sizes. 

Before you adjust chain tension, you need to check how much slack the manufacturer recommends. This should be stated in the manual. It’s usually 1 to 1.5 inches. 

Have someone sit on the ATV to simulate the tension the chain is under during riding. Then, using a tape measure, check the chain’s slack as per the directions in the manual. Different ATV manufacturers have different ways of measuring slack. 

Generally, what you want is a chain that is not too tight that you can’t move it up and down with your hand, but not too loose either that it flops up and down. It should be snug. 

If your chain’s slack is too much, here’s how to tighten it. 

Identify the four bolts that hold the rear axle. You’ll need to loosen these bolts, but do not remove them.  

Now, identify the adjuster screw or bolt. This is usually located near the four bolts, but check your manual for the right location for your ATV model. 

Tighten the adjuster bolt or screw, then measure slack again until you get within the manufacturer’s recommended range. Re-tighten the main bolts. 

Below is a video with an easy step by step guide. 

Note that the chain tension adjustment process varies from model to model. Check your service manual on how to tighten or loosen the chain. 

Some ATV models don’t have adjuster bolts. Instead, you insert a screwdriver or allen key in a hole on the axle. Then you push the ATV back a couple feet to tighten the chain, or forward to loosen it. 

In other models, you stick a thick screwdriver in a hole then push the screwdriver upwards or clockwise to tighten the chain. 

How Do You Tighten A Chain On A Chinese ATV?

Chinese quads come in a wide range of setups, so there isn’t a standard way to tighten the chain. Check the manual that came with the quad. 

But almost every ATV, including 110 quads, will have the four bolts at the rear. Look for those and loosen them. 

Then, look for a way to adjust the chain tension. In some quads, like in the video below, you use a thick screwdriver to rotate the axle, which tightens or loosens the chain. 

Others have adjuster bolts that you tighten to increase chain tension. 

If the manual doesn’t state how much slack the chain should have, go with the general recommendation. It should be snug, meaning you can move it slightly up and down with your fingers, but it doesn’t flop up and down. 

How Much Slack Should An ATV Chain Have?

It varies from model to model, but the general recommended range is 1 inch to 1.5 inches. 

In some ATV models, you measure slack by measuring the travel of a chain from it’s natural resting point to the highest point it’ll go. Check your ATV manual for how to measure the slack on your particular model. 

If you can’t find the proper slack range for your ATV, go with the advice we’ve given above: adjust the chain until it is snug, but not too tight that you cannot move it slightly up and down. 

Remember that both too much slack and lack of slack are bad. The first will cause the chain to jump off the sprocket, the second can break the chain. 

How Often Should You Tighten an ATV Chain?

Don’t wait until your ATV chain falls off the sprocket to tighten it. Instead, tighten it regularly to maintain tension. 

Check your service manual to see if there’s a recommended tightening schedule. But generally, it’s a good idea to check the chain’s slack every three years, and tighten it if it’s gotten loose. 

Also measure the slack after a day or two of particularly hard and rough riding. The chain may have taken a beating and loosened a bit. 

If you use the ATV frequently for heavy utility tasks or hard riding, check the chain more regularly – perhaps once or twice a month. 

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