Car Parts You Can Use in Your Boat, Motorcycle, or ATV

two dirt bikes parked on a dirt road

Source | David Marcu/Unsplash

Has this ever happened to you? You’ve rented a cabin in some remote location and brought your ATV/boat/dirt bike for a week of fun in the sun. You unpack the car, stow the groceries, and head out for a ride. But your toy won’t start. The closest specialty shop is an hour away, or the marina is going to charge you an arm and a leg to fix it. Before you let mechanical problems ruin your vacation, stop by your local auto parts store. Many parts for sports machines, like batteries, are interchangeable with automotive versions or can be found at a general automotive store. Here’s a short list of parts that fit that description.


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.

Spark plugs and wires

Spark plugs and wires are 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.

Boat engine parts

Similarities exist between inboard motors and some car engines. For example, the 4.3 liter GM V-6 that’s in your 2000 Glastron boat may be able to use some of the same 4.3 V6 GM motor parts that are available at an auto parts store. Always consult your owner’s manual first though. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure your warranty isn’t voided.

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 powersports provider.


Of course, anyone attempting repairs or maintenance should always consult their owner’s manual before undertaking any work, to ensure safety and that warranties aren’t voided.

Have you been in a tight spot and used car parts on your motorcycle, boat, or ATV? Share your experience.


Common A/C and Fuel Efficiency Myths Debunked


Two A/C myths always seem to crop up as the temperature climbs higher and long road trips become commonplace.

Myth #1: A vehicle’s air conditioner causes the engine to work harder. Therefore, electing not to use the air conditioner and instead rolling down the windows when driving will significantly increase fuel mileage.

Myth #2: Driving with your windows down will significantly decrease your fuel mileage because of the increased aerodynamic drag the open windows create.

One myth probably has some truth to it and one is most likely false. Here’s why.

Car_air conditioner

Uncovering the truth

In a test conducted by Consumer Reports, they drove a Honda Accord at 65 mph and found that using the air conditioner reduced fuel mileage by 3% (versus keeping it off). In another test they drove at 65 mph, but this time with the windows down. They found no measurable effect on fuel mileage.

In a similar test performed by Edmunds using a Toyota Tundra, they saw a decrease in fuel mileage of almost 10% when using the air conditioner as opposed to driving with the windows down and the air conditioner off.

There are many similar tests and results online, but here’s the bottom line:

  • Using a vehicle’s air conditioner may result in a small decrease in fuel mileage. As the driver, you get to choose what to do with that knowledge. Maybe that decrease is negligible compared to the discomfort of not having air conditioning on a hot summer day.
  • Driving with a vehicle’s windows rolled down doesn’t produce any measurable impact on fuel mileage as a result of aerodynamic drag (but your dog will love it if he’s along for the ride).

How to really improve fuel economy

If you want to improve gas mileage, try some of these fuel-saving strategies instead:

  • Slow down and avoid aggressive driving, such as hard accelerations and hard braking. Driving normally will increase fuel mileage by as much as 33% at highway speeds.
  • Remove excess weight from the vehicle and avoid hauling bulky items on the roof because it increases aerodynamic drag.
  • Keep your engine in tune and tires inflated to the recommended air pressure for a 3-4% improvement in fuel mileage.
  • Consolidate trips: do all your errands in one run

What do you think? Do you prefer to sweat if it saves you a few pennies, or is it a small price to pay for personal comfort? Leave us a comment.

Lighting up the night with Halogen Headlights

Best car headlightsIt’s dark in the country. That’s one of the great benefits of rural living—especially in fall and winter when the air is crisp and the sky clear. My kids and I marvel at the sheer number of visible stars. But, it can also be one of the drawbacks, particularly when there’s a long list of outdoor projects and a dwindling daylight supply as fall yields to winter.

One of the first places I miss the light is on my commute. It’s dark both when I leave, and when I get home. And although I know every twist, turn, and bump in these unlined country roads, I never quite know what’s lurking ahead—deer, hunting dogs, a fallen tree, or a hay bale that’s fallen off someone’s truck. That’s where high-quality, clean car headlights make all the difference. I learned this the hard way recently when there were no low beams on my wife’s car headlights. In hindsight, I’d noticed that her car headlight bulbs seemed dim last time I drove it, but I just figured the lenses were cloudy and in need of a headlight restoration kit. It turns out that’s not all they needed.

When I drove her car this morning, I quickly realized that I had no car headlights unless I switched to high beams. Thinking back, I then figured out that the car headlight bulbs I thought were just getting dim had actually blown out, one at a time. I decided to wait until it was light enough to drive without auto headlights, and at lunch, my first stop was for some Sylvania XtraVision twin halogen headlights. New halogen headlights can deliver 30 percent brighter light and up to 25 more down-road visibility. Because car headlights dim over time, and tend to fail in close proximity to one another, it’s always best to replace both auto headlights at the same time. I did it right there in the store parking lot—and enjoyed my leisurely and quiet ride home that much more. But in reality, there was a little more work to be done.

I also picked up a headlight restoration kit because the halogen headlights couldn’t deliver their maximum effectiveness since my plastic lens covers were clouded with age. That’s a project I’m saving until the weekend, though. Now, if I can just get the lights working on that old tractor or mine…

To learn more about changing your car headlight bulbs, check out this video.

Editor’s note: Advance Auto Parts carries a wide variety of auto headlights and headlight restoration kits for all kinds of makes and models.