If I met him, I don’t think I’d like Murphy simply because I really dislike his law. Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, and more often than not on my day off when I have something planned that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.
This isn’t a recent phenomenon for me either. But the good news is that as my mechanical knowledge grew, I figured out quickly how to circumvent his law and salvage my day – most of the time – when it comes to the motorized vehicles causing me problems and standing in the way of my fun.
The solution I learned about when I was younger, albeit the hard way, is that many automotive parts can serve double duty as replacement parts for recreational vehicles. I say I learned it the hard way because it only came after several outings were ruined by a boat motor that had wouldn’t start because it needed a marine battery, my grandfather’s old Ford tractor that wouldn’t start thanks to a temperamental starter, and a dirt bike that quit when the motorcycle battery failed.
I suspect a lot of people were like me when I was first getting my hands dirty taking things apart to figure out how they work, and needing more than a little help from dad putting them back together. I just didn’t realize that some parts, like marine batteries, were interchangeable. The thought never crossed my mind until one weekend when a bunch of my high school buddies and I were at my grandfather’s cabin for the weekend, fishing and riding four-wheelers and dirt bikes. I was about half a mile from the cabin when the dirt bike I was riding refused to restart thanks to a bad motorcycle battery. Knowing there weren’t any ATV or specialty power sports parts suppliers nearby, I figured my bike would have to be parked for the weekend. Only after I pushed it home on the gravel road that was, thankfully, mostly downhill, did my grandfather tell me that I could get the battery I needed at just about any place that sold auto parts.
The same goes for a lot of other power sports machines and their parts. Here are some of the more common parts and problems that might get in the way of your fun, and how to solve them.
1. Batteries – most auto parts stores carry a wide range of batteries that fit boats, ATVs, dirt bikes, jet skis, snowmobiles and even golf carts. Make sure you bring in the old marine battery or whatever type it is and get it tested first to confirm that’s the problem, to get the right replacement size, and to avoid the core charge.
2. Spark plugs and wires – this is another category that you don’t have to rely on a specialty parts supplier for. Even if you think that glow plugs for a Kubota B20 diesel tractor or plugs for a Yamaha Tt-R225 dirt bike are uncommon and only available through a dealer, think again and try your local auto parts supplier first.
3. Boats – many of the parts on inboard boat motors are interchangeable with car and truck engine parts simply because many boat manufacturers utilize engines made by vehicle manufacturers. For example, the 4.3 liter GM V-6 that’s in your 2000 Glastron boat can use a lot of the same 4.3 V6 GM motor parts that are available at an auto parts store, such as Advance. Wires, ignition coils, air and oil filters, distributor caps and distributor rotors and marine batteries –all available and pretty much interchangeable, even when a marine parts specialty supplier isn’t nearby.
Of course, a little preventive maintenance before you hit the trail or water can help you avoid many of these problems in the first place. But if they do crop up, you now know that many of these parts are readily available somewhere other than just a specialty power sports provider.
Editor’s note: Advance Auto Parts carries the powersport batteries you need, including ones for motorcycles, boats, ATV’s, tractors, golf carts and snowmobiles. Buy online, pick up in store.