How To Fix A Water Damaged ATV Engine? Troubleshooting and Repair Guide

Helen Skeates
Helen Skeates
13 min read

Until your engine gets stuck in deep water, driving an all-terrain vehicle is fun. Having the ability to fix a water-damaged atv engine is a valuable talent to have. You only need to drain the oil from your engine and refill it.

When you ride an ATV through puddles, streams, or rivers, you’re more than likely to get water in your engine. However, when an ATV is submerged and stopped running, that’s when the machines inside your vehicle are flooded.

The fact that ATVs are frequently driven through puddles, streams and rivers means that water can easily be sucked into the motors. There are certain exceptions to this rule, such as when an ATV is completely immersed and unable to operate.

How does water enter the engine, and why is it bad?

First, I’ll explain why water can get into your engine, and then we’ll go into the actual methods. When you sink the bike in the ocean, this can happen, but it isn’t the only time this can happen.

How To Fix A Water Damaged ATV Engine: 4 Easy Steps - Krostrade

The air intake can be clogged if you ride too fast through a puddle of water. Snorkels are installed by riders who deliberately ride in waist-deep mud to avoid this from happening, but you’re still not safe.

The engine will hydro-lock if it receives enough water. For this to happen, it only requires a very minimal amount of water.

I’m not a qualified mechanic, so I won’t dive into the nitty-gritty here. However, the air above the piston is compressed as expected when the piston moves up in the cylinder.

However, unlike air, water cannot be compressed, at least to a significant degree. There is no place for the excess water to go if you have more water inside a cylinder than the volume above a piston at its highest point (which isn’t very much!).

The piston is unable to complete its movement. As if trying to squeeze 2 liters of water into a 1-liter bottle. It’s impossible.

Depending on the situation, one of two things can happen:

If you are lucky, all that happens is that the engine stops; it dies out instantly when the piston cannot travel any further. This is a more likely outcome if the hydro lock happens when the engine is idling or when you are not using too much power.

If you’re lucky, the engine will simply shut off when the piston can no longer go any farther. If the hydro lock occurs while the engine is idle or when you are not applying too much power, this is a more likely conclusion.

Most of the time, if you’re lucky, the engine will just shut off when the piston can no longer go any farther. If the hydro lock occurs while the engine is idle or if you are not applying too much power, this is a more likely conclusion.

Because the piston is trying to ignore the laws of physics, this has happened. Remember that engine damage is more likely when hydro locking occurs at high speeds.

If the water enters and you hear any unusual metallic noises, you may be out of luck. Engines that have been severely damaged may need to be rebuilt, or they may need to be replaced entirely.

It’s time to call your favorite mechanic if you’ve finished this guide, including inserting new spark plugs, and the engine still won’t run or it runs raggedy.

It’s possible that doing a basic compression test will reveal whether or not everything is functioning properly.

The good news is that you now have a lot of work to do, so let’s get to work on healing!

Steps On How To Repair Damaged ATV

Step #1. Turn off your engine immediately

Turn off your ATV immediately if you suspect water damage. Even though it may be tempting, you must restrain yourself. It is possible to do lasting harm to electronic circuits and sensors by just starting your engine after a suspected water damage.

If you’ve reached this point, your car is probably hydrolocked. Get your ATV into a dry and safe location to begin the repair process.

Step #2. Drain your air filter

The air filter box should be the next thing on your inspection list. Take it out and let it dry if it is wet. You may also use some rags or paper towels to speed up the drying process by wiping it with them.

A new air filter may be necessary if you’ve drove your ATV in dirt or mud. Check the gasoline tanks, lines, and oil filter on your ATV as well. While you attend to more urgent concerns, you can either use a fan or simply let the engine parts air dry.

Step #3. Remove spark plugs and wires

Remove all of the spark plugs and wires from your ATV engine at this point in order to let it dry out. To get the water out of your engine, get a friend or family member to help you lean the entire vehicle over. If you can, try to turn it backwards by as much as 90 degrees.

16 Steps to Repair an ATV Submerged in Mud or Water –

If you’re going to drain your ATV, this is the quickest and easiest way to do so even if it’ll be heavy.

Step #4. Start and lube the engine

Once the oil has been refilled, run your ATV engine to remove any remaining water residue. After that, re-flush it. A milky white fluid should be flowing out your engine by now.

Just keep on draining and oiling until the liquid is no longer white. Cleaning and reattaching all of the plugs and wiring will finish up this step. Make sure that everything is clean and dry before you start the car.

Steps to Clean Out Your Engine Safely

As a result, if your engine has been wet and shut itself off before serious harm is done, you should take the following measures to remove the water from the engine before trying to start it:

  1. Drain the fuel tank, the fuel lines, and the oil before you begin. Take advantage of the time while it is draining to dry off the wires. Taking the carburetor out and cleaning it is necessary.
  2. Remove the engine’s plugs and run the engine to expel any water that may have accumulated in the cylinder. When the oil is drained, any water in the engine will be extracted along with it. The engine should be started again, this time with the plugs removed. Wait a few minutes before checking the oil to determine whether it contains any water (it will look like a white milky substance if there is water mixed with the oil). Drain it again if it’s there, and repeat the process until the oil is almost completely clear of white sediment.
  3. Replace the spark plug, fill the tank with gas, and give it another go. If the problem persists, keep a can of ether on hand, but be careful not to use too much. Allow it to run for a few minutes if it starts without revving the engine. Either way, avoid using it.
  4. Shut it down, drain the oil, and replace the filter after a few minutes. After a few minutes of use, turn it off and look inside for any milky tinted oil. As long as you don’t have any, you’ll be fine.
  5. There is a good chance that if the engine won’t start, you will need to have it repaired or replaced by a professional.


Can you flood a fuel injected ATV?

IFrameIt is more difficult to flood a fuel injected vehicle than a carburetor-equipped vehicle, but it can be done. A fuel injected engine can be flooded in a variety of ways. Frozen injectors or an unstartable cold engine are two common causes of flooding.

How do I know if water got into my engine?

Inspect your engine oil and transmission fluid levels by removing the dipsticks and differential plug. A milky, diluted or beige-colored fluid indicates that the pans are likely filled with water. To get it to your shop, you’ll need to have it towed there.

What happens if water gets in engine?

There is no place for water to go in an engine that has water in it, which causes compression concerns. With continued use, piston rods will begin to flex and eventually break. If water gets into your engine, it can corrode critical components such as your differential, rendering your vehicle useless.

How much does it cost to fix a flooded engine?

A couple hundred dollars isn’t going to get you very far in this endeavor. To put it another way, this problem might cost you between $3,000 and $8,000. Because it’s a difficult repair, you may be without a vehicle for a lengthy amount of time..

How long does it take to Unflood an engine?

With your foot flat on the ground, try starting your car’s engine. It’s common for car computers to interpret this as a sign that the engine has been flooded. As soon as the engine is started, it will sputter for around 10 seconds until the air and fuel mix is correct.

How do you know if your boat engine is flooded?

IFrameSigns that your boat’s engine has flooded include: Irregularities in the boat’s operation (particularly around the exhaust), a strong smell of gasoline, and damp spark plugs are signs of a problem.

What causes flooded sparkplugs?

It’s probably flooded. Fuel flooding is a sign that there is too much fuel in the engine and not enough air. This causes the spark plugs to become moist, preventing them from igniting the fuel. In order to counteract the extra fuel, this results in the engine receiving additional air.

What do you do if your boat engine is flooded?

Re: How to start a flooded car.

A flood-damaged engine can be restarted by opening all of the engine’s throttles and cranking it until the excess fuel is ejected. To make it easier to start, you can use compressed air or lay the plugs out in the sun to dry them out.

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Will a car start after a flood?

If you’re dealing with a submerged vehicle, here are some pointers to follow: Flooded cars can’t be started. You could do considerably more damage if there is water in the engine. Towels can be used to remove any water that has seeped into the cushions and chairs.

Will starting fluid start a flooded engine?

When the carburetor of a vehicle overfills the cylinders with gasoline, flooding occurs. As a result, we now have two issues to deal with. Using a starting fluid makes it easier to start the engine and reduces the risk of flooding. Gasoline takes longer to ignite than starting fluid.


Off-road vehicles, such as ATVs, frequently encounter water, making hydrolocks more common than you may expect. The ability to repair a water-damaged atv engine may come in handy in this situation. Remember to wait to start your ATV until the inside of the vehicle has dried completely.

You may save money if you learn this skill yourself rather of having it done by a repair service. However, if you’re not sure if you’re up to the task, you may always seek the help of experts.

Helen Skeates

Helen Skeates

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