Most ATVs are fitted with a spark arrestor, either because of the local regulations or law. The purpose of a spark arrestor on an ATV is to prevent wildfires by holding glowing particles from the engine or carbon deposits that break before they exit the tailpipe.
But can you ride a bike without a spark arrestor? Here’s everything you need to know about a spark arrestor on an ATV.
What is a spark arrestor?
An ATV spark arrestor is a crucial component on all ATVs that ride in public riding areas. It’s located at the end of the muffler assembly to help prevent the collection of ash and other combustible materials.
Generally, a spark arrestor is made of woven steel wire and is shaped like a cone. This cone helps to dissipate any fire or spark that tries to escape the muffler by breaking it up.
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What does the spark arrestor do on an ATV?
Most spark arrestors are designed to trap carbon particles in the ATV’s exhaust system. It functions by screening large carbon particles from the exhaust. Using centrifugal force, the heavy carbon particles are pushed to the inside walls of the arrestor and thrown into a trap.
Although the process may not be 100% effective, a properly installed and well-maintained spark arrestor minimizes fire risk significantly. The most common spark arrestors use a disc or a screen.
In a screen-type design, the mesh has several tiny holes which allow the exhaust to flow through. All particles larger than the mesh’s holes are stopped. These screen arrestors are available in various ratings depending on the fineness of the mesh used.
The disc-style arrestor works in a similar manner. Several small discs are closely packed to stop particles from passing through.
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Can I ride ATV without a spark arrestor?
If your ATV lacks a spark arrestor, there’s a possibility that small particles from the engine will leave the exhaust like a glowing red spark. With technological advancements, the production of particles from the ATV engine is no longer a major threat.
However, over time, the continuous accumulation of carbon deposits inside the engine can cause major damage. These carbon deposits may break free, changing into a glowing red spark on their way out of the exhaust system.
Generally, the laws relating to spark arrestor use depend on the area you’re riding on. In the United States, you’re required to have a well-maintained and certified spark arrestor installed anytime you’re riding in a state, federally, or locally managed area. It is advisable to check your area’s requirements before hitting the road.
Using a spark arrestor is always a good idea no matter where you’re planning to hit the trails in the world. This will reduce any chance of a potential fire hazard.
Symptoms of a clogged spark arrestor on an ATV
The design and purpose of the spark arrestor show that it will get clogged over time. The spark arrestor needs constant cleaning and maintenance to promote good airflow.
When the airflow is restricted, it causes excessive heat and other problems in the engine, such as backfire caused by the buildup of gases in the exhaust pipe. Backfiring can cause half-firing and damage the plugs. If your ATV has any of these symptoms, you need to check the spark arrestor.
Other symptoms of a clogged spark arrestor include slow acceleration, engine overheating, lack of power under load, and engine lacks full RPMs.
Are all ATVs fitted with spark arrestors?
Most ATVs sold in the US come with spark arrestors. Their use is required by law in most public riding areas.
How do I know if my bike is fitted with a spark arrestor?
Some ATVs are not equipped with a spark arrestor. To check if your bike has a spark arrestor, check the rear end of the exhaust muffler; this is where it’s located if the ATV has one. Most mufflers indicate whether a spark arrestor is installed or not. On others, you need to check it physically.
Use a flashlight if you cannot find the arrestor at the end of the muffler. Look for a fine steel mesh screen placed inside the exhaust’s diameter. It’s shaped like a plane screen or a tube. It can be tricky to notice if it’s shaped like a tube. Use a screwdriver to confirm if it’s there.
How do you clean ATV spark arrestor?
The ATV manual states that the spark arrestor should be cleaned after riding for a specified amount of miles. The arrestor is quite easy to remove for manual cleaning. Alternatively, the muffler may have a cleanout plug to make cleaning easy and fast.
If you have a disc-style arrestor, you have to clean each disc individually. You can clean the parts using a copper wire and some fuel to scrub off any debris. Rinse the discs in fuel and allow the parts to dry completely before re-installing.
For screen-style spark arrestors, you can use a blow torch to eliminate the carbon. You can do this by removing the screen from the muffler or burning the carbon when the screen is still installed in the muffler.
If you own an ATV, you need to install a spark arrestor in your exhaust system to maintain the engine at an optimal temperature for a flawless riding experience. Always ensure that the spark arrestor is installed properly and well-maintained.