ATVs are extremely fun to ride, but they have to be stored somewhere when they are not being used. So, if you don’t have an indoor area to store your ATV in, can you store an ATV outside?

ATVs can be stored outside, but weather and dust can make the vehicle dirty quickly. They can also damage the vehicle. The best way to store ATVs is under a sturdy structure or in a garage. High-grade ATV covers can be used to protect an ATV that is being stored outdoors.

Keep reading to learn more about why you shouldn’t store an ATV outside long-term.

Pros of Front or Backyard Outdoor Storage

Although outdoor storage is not ideal overall, some people may choose this storage method. One of the few advantages of storing your ATV outside is that it is extremely convenient. Your ATV will always be a few steps away from your home, and you will never have to deal with unlocking doors or backing out of a tight spot.

Another benefit to storing an ATV outside is that you will save money because you won’t have to pay to store your ATV in a structure of any kind. Some storage units and public parking lots charge people to store an ATV on the premises, so if an ATV owner simply stores their ATV outside of their home, they can avoid annoying fees and save some money. You also won’t have to pay to build a structure to store your ATV in.

Why You Shouldn’t Store ATVs Outdoors

Rain Damage

One of the big drawbacks of storing an ATV outdoors is rain. When ATVs get rained on for extended periods of time, corrosion, acid rain damage, and electronic damage can happen as a direct result of the precipitation and moisture. Most ATVs can be driven in the rain for short periods of time with no issue, but putting an ATV outside for weeks on end in an especially rainy environment can lead to corrosion and damage, and expensive repairs will be needed to keep the ATV running.

When water from heavy precipitation gets into the electric components of an ATV, they can get damaged and stop working over time. Modern ATV electric components like the ECU and electric motors in the relays, winch, sensors, switches, speedometer, control panels, and more should be protected from water when possible. Try to keep these electronic components from getting exposed to water by cleaning the ATV carefully with a garden hose and a soft brush instead of with a forceful pressure washer.

ATVs that are stored outdoors should have their connectors packed with dielectric grease every so often. Their electronic components should also be dried off after it rains to help prevent the electrical components from breaking or getting waterlogged. To avoid all of this trouble, simply store the ATV in a covered, dry area.

Acid rain also needs to be considered when you are considering storing your ATV outside. Rain has a weak but abundant amount of acid in it because of the various gasses in the air.

When these chemicals mix with rainwater, they can damage the paint and fabrics on an ATV that is left outdoors. While the acid levels in rainwater are usually fairly low and weak, with frequent exposure they can cause noticeable damage and discoloration to painted surfaces and fabrics.

Rust and Corrosion

Another con to storing an ATV outdoors is the simple fact that some metal components on an ATV will be prone to rusting when put in severe and wet conditions. Some metal parts on and in an ATV are painted with corrosion-resistant paint, but this protection can weaken with time. Also, there are still unprotected pieces and parts like bolts, nuts, brake disks, mounting brackets, and rods that will definitely rust if the vehicle is stored in a wet or moist place.

Some ATV parts like tie rods, a-arms, and frame parts are extremely exposed and susceptible to corrosion because they are often damaged by rocks and debris when off-roading. The paint damage caused by rocks and debris leaves these framing pieces exposed to water and susceptible to rust.

Even untreated aluminum components are susceptible to rust wherever air and water react with each other on the component. This rust will unfortunately make the ATV look beat up and aged beyond its real age. This means that if you store your ATV outside, your ATV will age quickly, which will make it harder to sell if you eventually want to get rid of it for various reasons.

Battery Charging

Another con of storing your ATV outside has to do with battery removal and charging. An ATV that is not driven for a few weeks will need its battery removed and then charged. No owner should let their ATV sit for more than three months without being driven so that the battery does not completely die. If an ATV is kept outside, it is best to remove the battery and then charge it somewhere nice and dry, where liquid or moisture will not disrupt the charging process.

However, if an ATV owner stores their vehicle in a covered, dry garage, they will be able to charge the battery while it is still in the vehicle.

UV Radiation

UV radiation can also contribute to damage to an ATV. An abundance of sun exposure can harm an ATV because of the UV radiation which damages materials like the natural and synthetic polymers in paints, rubbers, and PVC. ATV seats, tires, and other parts are commonly made from these vulnerable materials. This UV degradation may affect some ATV components more than others, so it can be tough to predict how negative this element will be for each unique ATV. When in doubt, the best approach is to store the vehicle out of the sun!


You should avoid storing your ATV outside because of critters. ATVs that are stored outside for long periods of time are exposed and vulnerable to any wildlife and animals in the area. This can lead to damage to the seat in particular, as mice like to eat away at pieces of leather and upholstery. Local stray cats may also use an ATV seat cover to sharpen their claws.

ATVs that are not ridden often are especially vulnerable to critters. If an ATV sits idle for too long, birds, mice, and even snakes may think that it is the perfect place to call home. ATV owners need to be extra careful in late fall, as this is the time of year when mice like to find a burrow to hole up in and raise their offspring in. The seat of your ATV will seem like the perfect nest for mice and other rodents.

Not all ATV shelters are critter-proof, but they offer slightly more protection against critters.

Moss and Fungus Growth

Another factor to consider when storing an ATV outside is the inevitable fungus and moss buildup that will happen. After just a few late-fall or winter months, moss and fungus can bloom and quickly overtake an ATV that hasn’t been taken care of well.

Moss and fungus growth rates will vary depending on where you live and the local environment and vegetation. This problem is seen most commonly in humid areas or areas with a lot of rainfall. Even simple dust blowing on the breeze can add to this issue because it creates a coating of dirt and grime that most species of fungus and moss need to grow and thrive.

Make sure to inspect your ATV and keep it stored in a sheltered area to extend the life of various components that can be damaged by fungal growth. Clean the ATV thoroughly before storing it and drive it often to reduce the risk of fungus growth.

Potential for Theft

When an ATV is stored outdoors for all to see, the likelihood that it will be stolen skyrockets. There are tons of tutorials online that tell people how to start an ATV without a key, and some ATVs even have universal keys. It is pretty easy for someone to drive away on your ATV if they can get to it. If you store your ATV outside, there will be very little to prevent thieves from taking it, even if you try to hide the vehicle from outsiders.

ATVs that are stored in storage units or garages are somewhat protected against being stolen because they are out of sight and sometimes kept in locked facilities.

Ice and Sub-Zero Temperatures

When an ATV is stored outside, it is most often during the fall and winter months because these are the months when people use them the least. However, severe temperatures can negatively impact ATVs.

Residual water and moisture could easily freeze the inner ATV components, including the throttle, ignition, brake cable sleeve, and all types of electric switches. When these electrical components get icy, you need to thaw them out before driving the ATV.

Condensation buildup in the fuel tank or oil tank of the ATV can also happen while driving an ATV in sub-zero temperatures. Make sure to keep an eye out for rising oil levels in the oil tank, as this could indicate that condensation has collected at the bottom of the tank.

To deal with condensation, the moisture will need to be carefully drained. Condensation can also be prevented if the ATV owner runs the vehicle long enough for it to reach operating temperatures each time they ride it. In addition to this, an engine heater kit can be installed on the ATV to prevent condensation complications during the winter months.

Even with all these solutions, it is best to store your ATV indoors. A temperature-controlled environment is best, but even a shed will moderately protect your ATV from the cold and moisture.

Alternative Types of Shelters

If these pros and cons have made outdoor storage seem unappealing, don’t worry! There are tons of other ways to safely store an ATV that have their own benefits and disadvantages. These alternative storage areas include covered storage lots, dry indoor garages, ATV covers, enclosed ATV trailers, DIY ATV shelters, metal shelters, and sheds.

These storage areas can be rented out in many different locations across the United States or even purchased online, They can also be purchased from local hardware stores and specialized dealerships. If the storage space you put your ATV in is waterproofed and protected from the elements, your ATV will be well protected. People can even make a serviceable ATV shelter for around $150, which is nice if you want to customize your ATV shelter.

While all of these options are great, it is best to choose the option that offers the most protection for your ATV. A garage will be better than a shed or trailer because it has more insulation and can be heated or cooled. A shed or trailer is better than a plastic cover for the same reason.

A garage attached to your home is often the best storage option for most ATV owners. It will not get as cold as a shed because it is attached to your heated house. Most garages do not have a heater, but simply having one or two of the walls attached to the warm house is enough to raise the temperature of the garage above outside temperatures. It is also very safe to store your ATV in your garage, especially if you have a security system installed at your home. Additionally, most garage doors are specifically designed to deter critters from getting in.

Using a watertight material like plastic or another type of coated material as a cover or shelter for an ATV may not be much better than storing it outdoors. This is because some tarps and covers are not breathable. Without breathability, condensation will build up under the cover and create similar conditions to an ATV sitting outdoors in the rain. Research each form of shelter well before using them to store your ATV.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *