Your ATV's idle should be smooth and consistent at all times. If you're noticing any skipping, hesitation or fluctuation in the way that the ATV is idling, it's important to address it right away. Vibration from the normal operation of the ATV can actually cause the adjuster screws and cables to shift over time. This can gradually affect the idle. The good news is that you can troubleshoot many of the common causes yourself, saving you the call to a technician.

Clean The Carburetor

Sometimes, jerky or rough idling is caused by a clogged carburetor. This is often the best place to start because it is easy to clean. You'll need to remove the seat to expose the engine, but the carburetor will be mounted on the top of the engine.

Remove the float bowl by loosening the bolts with a wrench. Just make sure that you note where the fuel lines are connected, because you'll have to reattach them later. Mark the lines with masking tape or something similar.

Use some carburetor cleaner and clean, dry shop rags to clean the whole assembly. Just spray the cleaner directly on the float bowl and wipe it clean with a shop rag. If there are any particles or debris in the carburetor, you'll want a shop brush to clean it up. Check the jets to be sure they aren't clogged, and use a brush on the tips to keep them clear. Then, wipe it all down with a clean rag and reconnect it.

Adjust The Idle Screw

The idle adjustment screw regulates the idle by adjusting the ratio of the fuel and air used by the carburetor. When the ratio isn't balanced, it can cause your ATV to idle rough. You'll find the adjustment screw on the side of the carburetor. Turn off the ATV and turn that screw as far as you can to the left. Count how many turns it takes so you know where it was when you started. Write it down just in case. Start the ATV and gradually turn the screw, working in quarter turns. Listen to the engine idle as you do this and keep working until it smooths out. Since engine vibrations can wiggle this screw loose, it's something you may need to check periodically.

These are the most common issues, making them the best place to start. Talk with a local ATV technician to help you troubleshoot further issues with your ATV's engine operation or idle.