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ATV Throttle And Clutch Cable Maintenance

ATV Throttle And Clutch Cable Maintenance

Cleaning and lubricating your throttle and clutch cables is a simple task that often gets overlooked, and can have serious consequences if neglected. If you allow too much time to pass without maintenance, you run the risk of cables getting stuck or even breaking.

Over time, debris such as mud, dust, and dirt can accumulate inside the protective sheathing of the cables. This build-up can cause the cables to stick or gradually wear them down until they eventually break. It’s important to note that normal wear and tear also plays a role in cable deterioration. The frequent use of throttle and gear controls during your rides adds up, gradually wearing down the cables.

To avoid potential dangers and ensure smooth operation, it’s crucial to regularly clean and lubricate your throttle and clutch cables. This simple maintenance task will help prevent cable issues and keep your ATV in optimal working condition for safe and enjoyable off-road adventures.

This article provides everything you need to know as far as maintaining your ATV throttle and clutch cable is concerned. Read on to learn more! 

How Often To Clean ATV Throttle And Clutch Cables

How often you clean your throttle and clutch cables depends a lot on how often you ride and in what conditions. For example: I always ride my motorcycle on dry roads during nice sunny days. Because of that, I only really need to clean my cables every couple of years or so. The ATV is a different story. I sometimes clean the throttle and clutch cables twice a year. For the average rider taking their quad out on weekends here and there, you’ll probably be fine doing it once a year at the beginning of the riding season.

You should be able to tell by the feel of the clutch and throttle if they need to be cleaned. You will notice the clutch feeling a little stiffer than usual, and maybe the throttle is a little tougher to work than it used to be. Those are signs that it’s time for a good cleaning. If you let it go for too long like that, the throttle cable could get so gummed that it sticks. That could be a dangerous run-away ATV situation that you’ll want to avoid.

Replace Cables? Or Clean And Lubricate?

With proper cleaning and lubrication, the throttle and clutch cables should provide you with a long service life. I, personally, have sets of cables that have lasted me nearly ten years.

However, it’s important to regularly inspect the cables for any signs of wear and tear. If you notice that a cable is worn or fraying, it’s time to replace it. 

Similarly, if any fittings appear damaged or excessively worn, they should be replaced as well. Whether you are replacing or cleaning the cables, you will need to remove them in either case. Taking the time to perform these inspections and necessary replacements will help ensure the continued optimal performance of your ATV’s cables.

Remove Throttle And Clutch Cables From An ATV

It is best to start by removing the cables to determine if they need replacement or simply cleaning and reassembly. You can always refer to your ATV’s factory service manual to understand the manufacturer’s recommended procedure. While I will explain how to remove the cables here, please keep in mind that not all ATVs are identical, and you may encounter slightly different steps compared to my instructions.

First, you’ll need a couple of T-handles, like this set I use from Amazon. You’ll probably only need the 8mm or 10mm for this job. You’ll also need a Cable Luber Tool like this one by Motion Pro, and of course, some Cable Lube.

Removing The Clutch Cable

To start removing the clutch cable, you’ll want to line the notch in the adjuster wheel up with a gap so you’ll see where the cable sits. This is found by the clutch lever. You could try loosening the clutch cable enough so that you have slack to get the cable out.

But I prefer to just remove the clutch lever itself, this is where those t-handle wrenches come in handy. Simply pull back the rubber guard to access the clutch lever bolt and remove it with a wrench. When the bolt is out, the lever will simply pivot off of the clutch cable.

Now you want to remove the other end of the clutch cable where it connects to the actuating arm. This is usually found down on the engine near where your left footrest is. This part is usually as easy as removing a couple of nuts, giving the cable enough slack to pivot off of the actuating arm. If your cable is in a housing like the one in the picture, that’s ok, you can remove the housing from the actuating arm while it’s still attached to the cable.

That’s it, you can now remove the cable from the ATV. It is not entirely necessary to remove the cable completely from the machine if you are just going to be cleaning and lubricating the cable. You can use the cable luber tool with the clutch cable still wound through the ATV.

Removing The Throttle Cable

The throttle cable is a little more difficult to remove. You start by removing the cover that protects the throttle cables on the throttle body. You may need to remove the seat and gas tank for this step depending on your model ATV.

There are usually a couple of nuts to loosen before you can remove the throttle cable from the throttle body.

Then you can remove the throttle cable from the throttle lever up on the right side of the handlebars. This step is similar to removing the clutch cable from the clutch lever.

There that’s it, now you can remove the cable from the ATV. This is just like the clutch cable though, you don’t need to entirely remove the cable from the machine if you’re just going to clean and lubricate it with the cable luber tool.

Lubricate Throttle And Clutch Cables On An ATV

The method for cleaning the cables themselves will be the same for both the throttle cable and the clutch cable. The cable luber tool makes this job 10 times easier so I highly recommend using the tool if you can. If you don’t have the tool and don’t want to get one. You could do your best to spray the cable lube on one side of the cable’s protective housing and hope you see the dirt and junk leaking out the other end.

If you do have the tool. Or want to buy one from Amazon here, Cable Luber Tool. The job becomes a lot easier. You simply insert the top end of the cable into the cable lube tool. Make sure the tool covers part of the protective sheathing and part of the bare cable.

With the cable held vertically so the lube can flow down with the help of gravity, you’re ready to clean and lubricate the cable. You will notice on the tool there is an opening where you can spray the lube into the cable luber tool. This will force the lubricant down through the protective sheathing and clean the cable. I suggest using a rag to hold the tool when you do this because the tool may leak a little.

Give it a few quick bursts from the can of lube (you could also use WD-40) until you see the lubricant leaking out the other end of the cable. A long continual burst may send lube spraying about everywhere. Just small quick bursts should do the trick. Move the cable back and forth inside the protective sheathing here and there to help move the liquid through the cable.

Re-install the Throttle And Clutch Cables On An ATV

Once the cable has been cleaned and lubricated, you can re-install it back onto the ATV. This may not even need an explanation. You simply put the cable back onto the machine in the reverse order you removed them.

Connect the clutch cable (and housing if there is one) back to the actuating arm and tighten the nuts. Then hook the cable back up to the clutch lever and bolt the lever back onto the handlebars. Now you can tighten the adjuster wheel to where the slack in the cable feels comfortable to use. If the clutch cable is too tight (has no slack) the clutch could slip more often. If it is too loose, it can make it harder to shift.

Re-attach the throttle cable to the throttle lever on the handlebars and re-connect the other end of the cable to the throttle body. Some throttle cables have two threaded ends that connect to adjust the slack in the cable up by the throttle lever. This is mostly for fine-tuned adjustments. The bigger adjustments should be made down at the engine where the cable connects to the throttle body. If you didn’t make any changes to either of these adjusters, you should be fine to re-assemble the way it is.

If you tighten the throttle cable too tight, it could cause your engine to rev when turning the handlebars all the way. Try to get it back to where it was when you removed it. You could always check with your manufacturer’s service manual for exact specifications. But this is usually pretty easy to figure out when you put the cable back on the ATV.

Final Thoughts

Regular maintenance of your ATV’s throttle and clutch cables is crucial for optimal performance and safety. Neglecting this simple task can lead to cables getting stuck or even breaking, posing potential dangers. Over time, debris can accumulate within the protective sheathing, and normal wear and tear can cause cable deterioration.

However, by cleaning and lubricating the cables periodically following the tips provided in this article, you can prevent issues and ensure smooth operation. It’s important to inspect the cables for signs of wear and replace them if necessary. Follow proper maintenance procedures and consult your ATV’s factory service manual to keep your throttle and clutch cables in excellent condition, ensuring safe and enjoyable off-road adventures.

Thanks so much for reading to the end!

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