There are few things more fun than buying an ATV. It’s even better if you’re able to find a used model at a good price in great condition. The problem is knowing what to look for and the right questions to ask.
Buying a used ATV can save you a ton of money. But you need to do some research so that you don’t end up dropping some serious cash on a total lemon. That’s why we’ve put together this ATV buying guide.
Let’s take a look at a list of things to pay close attention to when you’re ready to go shopping for a used off-roader.
ATV Buying Guide: Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Used ATV
Buying a used ATV means you’ll have to check the vehicle for defects and know what to look for. Here is your ATV buying guide.
Is the Frame in Good Condition?
The frame on an ATV is one of the most important parts of the machine. So make sure to take a good close look. Do you notice any cracks or awkward bends that shouldn’t be there? If so, that’s a sign that you need to walk away.
Why? Because when an ATV is in a big crash, there are ways to cover up damage. Such as using body panels or fresh plastics. But it’s hard to disguise damage to the frame. Sure, you can attempt to straighten bends in the metal or paint over cracks, but a smart consumer can still spot this kind of damage if you take the time to look close enough.
Are the Drive Lines in Good Condition?
If you’re looking to buy an ATV that is a 4X4, you’ll want to check out the axles and CV boots coming out of the front and rear differentials, as well as the boot on each of the four spindles.
If the CV boots are cracked or torn, it’s a bad sign. This kind of damage typically means the ATV has been driven hard and the axles need to be replaced or rebuilt. That’s an expense you’ll need to keep in mind before handing over cash for the vehicle.
Another thing to pay attention to is any grinding sounds from the drive lines you hear during a test ride. Those kinds of sounds aren’t good, and we would recommend taking a pass on purchasing that particular machine.
How Does the Oil Look?
Always check the ATV oil. This is true no matter how old the ATV is. Even if the owner claims the machine is only slightly used and has been ridden very few miles, the quality of the oil in the machine can tell you a lot about the condition of the engine.
Take out the dip stick and give it a quick sniff? Does it smell bad? Even if the oil looks fine, a bad smell can be a tip-off that there’s a problem.
Also, check to see if the oil filter is old or new. After all, these are the details that will let you know how the owner has maintained the machine.
How Does the Gas Look?
Take off the gas cap and give the tank a sniff. Does it smell rancid? If so, this could be a sign of a bad fuel injection system or a carburetor that needs to be overhauled. If you’re willing to deal with these kinds of issues, at least this provides you with some negotiating power.
How Does the Coolant Look?
Is the coolant in the machine green or orange? If not, it’s problem. And keep in mind that aluminum engines will corrode if tap water is used as a coolant.
Are There Any Custom Parts on the Vehicle?
Some people enjoy replacing stock parts with custom aftermarket parts. Although these things might look cool and seem like upgrades, the quality often isn’t as good as the original factory parts.
If the ATV has been highly customized, take this under consideration before agreeing to the purchase.
Here is a great resource where you can learn more about buying a used ATV.
Take the ATV on a Test Ride
Here is a list of things to pay attention to on a test ride:
When you turn the key, does it immediately fire up, or does it struggle to start? There could be a battery or wiring problem.
Once it’s running, do you notice smoke coming from the exhaust? If so, you could be looking at some costly repairs down the line.
While riding do you notice any belt slippage? This could mean any number of things, from clutch issues to transmission problems.
Does the machine seem to have plenty of power?
Do the suspension and steering seem tight and straight, and does the machine seem stable overall?
How easily and firmly does it stop? The brakes are extremely important, yet parts like brake pads are one of the least expensive repairs you might have to invest in.
Does the Seller Seem Upfront and Honest?
Keep in mind that the kind of person you’re dealing with can tell you a lot about the ATV they’re selling. Do they seem shady or hesitant to answer questions openly and honestly?
Remember that you are in control of this transaction. If the seller won’t let you fully inspect the vehicle before exchanging money, that’s a bad sign and you should walk away.
Don’t be shy about asking about the service history, what they used the machine for, and whether or not the mileage on the odometer is accurate. The answer to these types of questions are very important, and anyone hesitant about passing along the answers is not someone likely to be trusted.
Getting a Great Deal on a Used ATV
Owning an ATV can be a blast, but buying a used ATV can often be risky. That’s why you need this ATV buying guide to avoid winding up with a piece of junk.
Knowing what to look for when buying a used ATV isn’t complicated, it simply requires a little research and understanding the right questions to ask. Just remember to take your time, pay attention to the small details, and you can save tons of money on an ATV that can last you for years!
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