If you have an ATV or a four wheeler and the brakes suddenly lock up on you, then you have a serious problem on your hands. Fortunately, this is a problem that can generally be fixed without the assistance of a professional. If you want to try to fix the brakes on your own and get the four wheeler working again, then keep reading.
Lubricate The Brake Cable
If you have a four wheeler, then you will have a hand brake that is connected to the braking system with the assistance of a cable. This cable forces pressure against a piston, and this piston places air or brake fluid under pressure. The pressure is forced against the caliper or a lever that then forces the brake pads to grind against the drum or disc. Brake cables are made out of braided steel and the steel is covered with a rubber casing to protect the metal from corrosion. The cables will succumb to wear and rust at times. The rust can accumulate inside the cable casing and the cable can stick. When this happens, you will notice that the hand brake or brake lever is stuck down.
You can sometimes free the brake cable with a spray lubricant like WD40. Locate the end of the cable where it attaches to the lever and pull back the rubber coating a small amount. Attach the spray straw to the can of WD40 and place the straw just underneath the rubber. Spray the lubricant down into the casing. Follow the brake cable to the caliper and spray the other end as well. When you are done, squeeze and let go of the brake lever until the lever lets go and the brakes no longer stick.
Change Brake Fluid
If you have a hydraulic braking system, then the system will require brake fluid, much like your car. This fluid will need to be changed on occasion, like your vehicle. Many cars only need to have the brake fluid changed every four or five years, and you can typically go by this same time frame when changing the fluid on your four wheeler. If you have not changed the fluid in quite a while, then water and debris will build up in the fluid and this can cause brakes to fail or lock up.
Purchase some brake fluid from your local ATV supplier and locate the brake fluid reservoir. Remove the cap from the reservoir and use a turkey baster to suck up all the brake fluid from the container. Squeeze the fluid into a separate container afterwards. Inspect the fluid for signs that it has gone bad. Brake fluid is typically clear or slightly yellow in color when it is still in good condition. When the fluid starts to go bad, it will look dark brown or black. If the fluid is a dark color, then you will need to flush some of the old fluid out of the system.
Start by adding new brake fluid to the reservoir. To bleed the old fluid, locate the small bleeder valve on each brake caliper. Place a container under each caliper and open the valve starting at the front and working your way to the rear brakes. Allow fluid to drain out of each bleeder valve until you see that fluid appears clear in color. Make sure to tighten the bleeder valves afterwards and also add enough brake fluid to the reservoir so the fluid reaches the fill line. Try your brakes again after changing the fluid.
If the brake fluid replacement and the brake cable lubrication do not help to unlock the four wheeler brakes, then a more complicated brake pad or disc brake replacement may be required. If you feel confident about doing this yourself, then visit an ATV parts store like Kazuma of America to purchase the brake parts. Otherwise, ask a specialist to help make the repairs for you.