In order to use an ATV, you need to use the key to turn on the vehicle. However, what happens if you lose the key to your ATV? Are ATV keys universal?

ATV keys can be universal, but most have electric start keys and traditional metal keys. Usually, an ATV used as a go-kart or a dune buggy has a universal start key. If ATV users lose their first key and need to replace it, replacement universal keys can sometimes be purchased online.

Keep reading to learn about which ATVs have universal keys and what you can do if you lose the key to your ATV.

How Different ATV Brands Handle Keys

The most popular ATV brands are Yamaha, Polaris, Honda, Can-Am, Suzuki, Kawasaki, KTM, SHERP, KYMCO, Linhai, Arctic Cat, TaoTao, CFMoto, Apollo, Aeon Motor, Kubota, and AlphaSports. Most ATVs will respond to the various keys listed below in similar ways, but the vehicle manufacturer should be consulted before a new or replacement key is purchased to ensure it will be compatible.

Each ATV brand website has different answers for how their ATVs handle various types of keys. For instance, the Polaris Sportsman ATV website reports that their ATV keys come in a variety of series and are either Type A, Type B, or Youth Keys.

Type A keys are key blanks and key covers that handle well with ATVs that were made in 2021 and later. Their Type B keys work well with ATVs that are not classified as Type A.

Honda ATV keys are listed on websites like Ali Express. They work well with their corresponding Honda ATVs.

Universal ATV Keys

Universal ATV keys are often used on vehicles meant to be used as go-karts and dune buggies. This is because ATVs used for these purposes are sometimes used by groups of people and thus need to be operated, shared, and started up as easily as possible.

Even though some brands and types of ATVs can work with universal keys, be careful. If a user attempts to use a universal key on an ATV’s ignition that it doesn’t fit, it can damage the vehicle itself. It may not even be able to start the engine in the first place.

Usually, it is best to get in contact with the ATV’s manufacturer, a professional dealership, or a well-known locksmith who works with ATVs to get the best universal or replacement key for your ATV.

Universal keys can be found in a variety of places. For example, Walmart sells universal ATV Go-Kart Key Switches that are very useful when starting up a compatible ATV. Some universal start switches can be double-pronged, triple-pronged, or use 2-4 wires to jump-start a vehicle. Most of these universal keys and switch devices cost between $8 to $16.

Sometimes, online forums are also useful for ATV universal keys. For instance, one forum user reported that Polaris ATVs do not have universal keys. Review additional websites and forums to help you find the best universal ATV key for your ATV.

ATV Keys That Are Not Universal

Non-universal ATV keys are metallic, physical keys that are old fashioned and unique in their cut so they only work with their corresponding compatible ATV.

If your ATV needs a specific metal key to start, have a few spare keys on hand or on your home. That way, you won’t get stuck in the middle of nowhere if you lose your ATV key.

Key Blank Replacements

Key blanks, which are essentially blank keys, can be manufactured for ATVs, motorcycles, and watercraft vehicles! If an owner of any of these types of vehicles ends up losing their key, they can find a key blank very quickly online for whatever vehicle they need!

The company CLK Supplies is a good online resource to use to find a replacement key as soon as possible. These keys are extremely useful because they can replace any key as long as it can be cut to fit the ignition properly.

There are even employees and associates at CLK Supplies that can be called up and questioned if an ATV owner is not certain that a key blank replacement will match or work with their ATV’s make and model. Their workers can be reached around the clock to ensure an incompatible key isn’t accidentally purchased! Their ordered keys are delivered uncut, which means that consumers and locksmiths can work on the key replacement so that it is a perfect fit for the vehicle in question.

Some of these key blank replacements can be very affordable. Online, most of them are priced from $0.75 to $3.20 for a single key replacement. Look through and to consider other sources of ATV blank keys and different prices! There are dozens of ATV blank key websites and stores to price-compare keys and shop for just the right type of products.

What to Do If an ATV Key is Lost

A lot of ATV users want to have a universal key on hand to use on multiple vehicles or to use as a replacement key after misplacing their original ATV key. There are also other steps that an ATV driver can follow after losing a key besides ordering a new universal one to make sure they can get back to riding as soon as possible!

To start an ATV without a key, you can either bypass the ignition switch, enable the pull or kick start, hot wire the vehicle, disassemble the ignition to trigger it manually, use scissors, use a screwdriver, or replace the ignition switch entirely. Don’t do these things regularly, as they are only meant to be used during emergencies and can potentially damage your ATV if done regularly.

Bypassing the Ignition Switch

If an ATV rider cannot find their keys, they won’t be getting very far, or even out of their garage! On the plus side, there are lots of ways to get around a lost key, like learning how to bypass the ignition switch on an ATV! When a key is turned inside the ignition of an ATV, it opens a circuit that allows a spark to ignite in the machine.

This spark begins the internal combustion process, which gets the ATV’s engine to come alive! The following methods are ways to bypass the ignition switch itself and get down to the business of starting the vehicle, by any means necessary.

Enable the Pull or Kick Start

This method of starting an ATV is more varied since not all ATVs will come with a pull or kick start. If an ATV doesn’t have one of these types of startup systems, do one of the other startup options mentioned below. However, if the ATV does have a kick or pull start, this might be the easiest and quickest method to use.

Start by lifting or removing the front hood to expose the electrical components. Find the wire that connects the ATV’s engine to the ignition switch. Unplug this wire and then use the kick or pull start to start the engine!

Hot Wiring an ATV

Hot wiring will only work on some specifically-built ATVs. The owner needs to change the wires to bypass the ignition switch and leave the circuit open, which will then let the spark start the ATV engine.

To do this, find the wires coming out of the ignition. The first wire is usually fused with a 12V DC from the battery. Oftentimes this wire is red, but confirm this is the right wire by matching it with the output on the main fuse.

Then remove one of the remaining wires, identify the kill switch wire color, and find its twin color in the ignition switch connector in the wiring harness. This wire is usually green in color. Be careful not to splice this wire. Another wire that should not be spliced is the kill switch wire. Figure out the kill switch color in the wiring harness and CDI connector. Its coloring is usually black with a white stripe.

Next, there should be only one wire left to splice with the first wire that was identified. Disconnect the ground and kill the wires mentioned above to prevent them from shorting out and killing the spark.

Finally, cut the wires identified and connect them using tape. Disconnect the wires after riding your ATV to make sure the lights and fuel pump turn off to prevent the battery from dying. If you want a visual representation of how to hot wire your ATV, find an ATV hot wiring video on YouTube. Try to find a how-to video that shows you how to hot wire an ATV made by the same company your ATV was made by to make sure the hot wiring process is safe and accurate.

Disassemble the Ignition to Trigger It Manually

ATV owners can also take apart the ignition of their vehicle to start it if they lose the key. If drivers do not want to replace the ignition or don’t know how to put it back together, this method may not be the best choice.

First, separate the ignition from the ATV. The ignition looks like a cylinder that can be dismantled. After the bottom half of the ignition has been removed, the other half should have a piece inside with metal connectors. Take these connectors out and figure out how it lines up with the ignition. Use the connectors just like how a key would be used to start the ATV!

Use Scissors or a Screwdriver

Take a screwdriver or the blade of a pair of scissors and jam and shimmy one of the aforementioned tools into the ignition. Then, twist it just like a key. This may be one of the most popular ways to start up a vehicle without a key. However, after you do this, the ignition will essentially be broken, which means you will need to replace it. This method probably won’t be a good choice if an ATV owner doesn’t want to replace their ATV’s ignition anytime soon.

Replace the Ignition Switch

If you lose the key to your ATV and are not in an emergency situation, replace the ignition. Brand-new ignitions are affordable and very easy to fix, and they come with a new set of keys! This process is comparatively easier than some of the more hands-on fixes on this list.

Have a New Key Made

This is considered the best option because it works in situations where an ATV driver may not be near their home, as locksmiths are available nationwide.

Locksmiths can craft a custom key in a matter of minutes! ATV dealerships can even send owners a new set of keys to their residences after the ATV’s VIN or model number is shared over the phone or in person. If this approach doesn’t work, the ATV owner can remove the ignition and take it to a locksmith so a new key can be crafted.

Remember that it is relatively easy to start an ATV without a key. This information is useful when you lose your key but want to go off-roading, but it makes it easier for thieves to steal your ATV. ATVs are notoriously easier to steal than other types of vehicles. Try to store an ATV in a secure location and do not leave it unattended for long periods of time.

Overall, while not all ATVs have universal keys, if you lose the key to your ATV, there are many things you can do to make it so you can safely go riding. However, to make it so you don’t have to do any of these things, keep an extra ATV key on hand when using your ATV. Keep the spare key in your car, on a lanyard, or on a similar device that keeps the key close by but out of your hands.

If you lose both of your ATV keys, call a locksmith and have them craft a new key that you can use until you order a replacement key from the manufacturer of your ATV.

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