ATVs are perfect for many public and recreational transportation purposes such as basic public transportation or trail riding. When it comes to purchasing ATVs, used ATVs are cheaper than new ATVs but come with a few risks. What do you need to know when buying a used ATV?

When buying used ATVs, only buy from credible marketplaces and inspect all of the ATVs’ components. Before being driven, a used ATV will need to be registered and the driver will need to have a valid driver’s license. Always be cautious when buying used ATVs.

Below, I will explore essential tips for evaluating the ATV’s engine, transmission, and electrical components. By the end of this article, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to confidently make an informed decision and find the perfect used ATV for you.

Determining Your Needs and Budget

When buying a used ATV, it’s essential to assess your needs and establish a realistic budget. This will help you narrow down your options and ensure you will find an ATV that meets your requirements. Consider the following factors:

  1. Intended Use: Determine the primary purpose of your ATV. Are you looking for a recreational ATV for off-road adventures, or do you need a utility ATV for work-related tasks? Understanding how you will use an ATV will help you choose the appropriate size, power, and features. Recreational ATVs tend to prioritize speed and maneuverability, while utility ATVs focus on hauling and towing capabilities.
  2. Terrain and Conditions: Consider the type of terrain and conditions you will encounter while riding your ATV. Will you be riding on flat trails, rocky terrains, or muddy environments? Different ATV models are designed for specific terrains, so it’s important to choose one that can handle the conditions you’ll be encountering. Look for features like aggressive tires, sturdy suspension systems, and ample ground clearance for rough terrains.
  3. Passenger Capacity: Determine if you’ll be riding alone or with a passenger. Some ATVs are designed for single riders, while others offer seating for two or more passengers. If you plan on riding with a companion, consider buying used ATVs with appropriate seating arrangements and safety features.
  4. Storage and Hauling Needs: Assess the amount of cargo or equipment you’ll need to carry while riding your ATV. If you require storage space for tools, gear, or supplies, look for used ATVs with front and rear cargo racks, under-seat storage compartments, or built-in toolboxes. Consider the weight capacity of these storage areas to ensure they can accommodate your requirements.
  5. Budget: Set a realistic budget for your used ATV purchase. Determine how much you’re willing to spend and factor in any additional costs such as insurance, registration fees, and necessary accessories. Keep in mind that used ATVs are generally cheaper than new ones.

By carefully assessing your needs and establishing a budget, you can narrow down your search and focus on finding a used ATV that meets your requirements.

Where Can You Buy Used ATVs?

Online ATV Marketplace

Most people purchase used ATVs through online platforms or find used ATVs to purchase in person through various websites. Two of the most popular online marketplaces to purchase used ATVs on are ATVSoup and ATV Trader.

These websites have a reputation for valuing customer service and only providing high-quality used ATVs. They connect people to third-party businesses.

The owners and dealers who go through ATVSoup and ATV Trader are all verified and promoted through one or both of these websites. This makes finding used ATVs easy regarding the “where” and “why”.

While these two sites are the best places to buy used ATVs, they are not the only websites you can purchase one through.

Online Marketplace (General Items)

Websites such as Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace act as third parties as well. However, unlike ATVSoup and ATV Trader, they are not heavily focused on ATVs, and sellers are not always verified by the websites.

This is likely the primary reason why you won’t purchase an ATV from these websites. Purchasing used ATVs from a family member, friend, or co-worker is the best and most preferred alternative to using the suggested websites.

Online or Physical Dealerships

You can also buy used ATVs from online or physical dealerships. However, when you buy a used ATV from a dealership, make sure to have the ATV inspected before you purchase it. Many people purchase used ATVs from dealerships because they can sometimes negotiate the cost of the ATVs they want to purchase.

Types of ATVs

Before you buy a used ATV, determine the type of ATV you will need.

Utility ATV

Sometimes called a UTV, utility ATVs are the most durable type of ATV. They are designed to help you get work done. The engines in utility ATVs tend to have around 800cc to 1,000cc. Utility ATVs typically have a lot of cargo space. They are also able to tow items, making them great to use while working on ranches and farms.

Sport ATV

Sport ATVs are lightweight and very responsive. This is the perfect ATV for those who want to go on a fun adventure or go racing. Usually, the engines in this type of ATV don’t have more than 700cc, but some modern ones have larger engines. These ATVs are great on any terrain and can manage jumps and hills. They are also very customizable.


A side-by-side ATV is great if you are wanting to go on adventures with someone. They are very similar to golf carts but are way better at off-roading, have more powerful engines, and are smoother to drive. These ATVs have some of the best suspension, making any trip on them fairly smooth.

Youth ATV

Youth ATVs are meant to be driven by kids and typically have much weaker engines. They usually have around 100cc. Typically, these ATVs can only hold about 100 pounds, but they have simplified controls. This makes it easy for younger children to learn how to drive an ATV.

How to Determine the Credibility of an ATV Seller

When buying a used ATV, you must be diligent in finding sellers that give honest, detailed descriptions of their listed used ATVs.

Honest sellers will give you the ins and outs of all the components of the used ATV such as the condition of the tires, the frame, the coolant, and the engine oil.

Sellers who restrict the buying power of the interested buyer (i.e. non-negotiable, unreasonable high cost) must be avoided. These sellers may try to sell you an ATV that won’t last very long and likely aren’t trustworthy.

Even if the seller is genuinely honest about their used ATV and simply wants to get rid of it at an extremely low cost, be wary. They should provide a detailed description of why they are selling the ATV for an extremely low cost (i.e. uninterested, purchase for parts/junk, etc.). If they don’t do so, something is likely very wrong with the ATV, and the seller may want to hide the issues from you.

If you are purchasing a used ATV to use for parts and other junk purposes, go ahead and purchase an ATV from this type of seller.

Used ATV Components to Inspect Before Purchase

When purchasing a used ATV, it’s crucial to thoroughly inspect several components to ensure you’re making a wise investment. By carefully evaluating these key areas, you can assess the overall condition of the ATV and identify any potential issues that may require repairs or maintenance. Let’s dive into the important components you should inspect before making a purchase:

  1. Engine: The engine is the heart of any ATV, so it’s essential to give it a thorough inspection. Start by checking for any signs of oil leaks around the engine and look for any loose or damaged hoses. Inspect the air filter for cleanliness and ensure it is free from excessive dirt or debris. Check the spark plug to make sure it’s in good condition and not excessively worn. Additionally, inspect the radiator for any signs of leaks or damage. During the test ride, pay attention to the engine’s performance. Ensure that it starts smoothly and runs without any unusual noise or excessive smoke from the exhaust. Keep an eye on the engine temperature to ensure it remains within a safe range.
  2. Transmission: The transmission is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the wheels, so it’s vital to assess its condition. Start by shifting through all the gears, ensuring the transmission engages smoothly without any grinding or slipping. Pay attention to any signs of excessive vibration or irregular shifting patterns. If the ATV has a drive belt, inspect it for wear, cracks, or fraying. Check the tension of the belt to ensure it is within the manufacturer’s specifications. A well-functioning transmission is crucial for optimal performance and a smooth riding experience.
  3. Electrical System: The electrical components of an ATV play a significant role in its overall functionality. Inspect the battery to ensure it’s in good condition and holds a charge. Check all of the lights, including the headlights, taillights, turn signals, and brake lights, to ensure they are functioning correctly. Test the switches and controls to make sure they operate without any issues. Examine the wiring for signs of damage such as fraying or exposed wires. A properly functioning electrical system is essential for safety and convenience while riding.
  4. Suspension: The suspension system of an ATV contributes to its ride quality and handling. Inspect the shocks and struts for signs of leaks, damage, or excessive wear. Push down on the front and rear of the ATV to test the suspension’s responsiveness and check if it rebounds smoothly. Excessive bouncing or sagging could indicate worn-out suspension components. During the test ride, evaluate the ATV’s handling over various terrains, paying attention to how it absorbs bumps and uneven surfaces. A well-maintained suspension system enhances comfort and control during off-road adventures.
  5. Brakes: The braking system is critical for safe operation, so it’s important to check its condition. Inspect the brake pads or shoes for wear and ensure they have sufficient material remaining. Assess the brake rotors or drums for any signs of warping or excessive wear. Test the brakes during the test ride, checking for responsiveness, smooth engagement, and even braking power. Properly functioning brakes are essential for maintaining control over your used ATV.
  6. Frame and Chassis: Thoroughly inspect the frame and chassis of the ATV for any signs of damage, such as cracks, bends, or welds. Check for rust or corrosion, particularly in areas exposed to moisture or off-road debris. A structurally sound frame ensures the ATV’s stability and durability, providing a safe riding experience.

By thoroughly inspecting these crucial components, you can assess the overall condition of the used ATV and determine if any repairs or maintenance will be required.

Do Used ATVs Require a Title And Auto Insurance?

After deciding which used ATV you will purchase and inspecting the vehicle thoroughly, what happens next? Though the initial purchase of a used ATV is completed, payments do not end there.

Much like any motorized vehicle that can be driven on public roads, you will need to acquire a title and auto insurance for your used ATV.

Whoever the seller of the used ATV is, a valid title and registration of the vehicle must be provided to transfer ownership legally. If no title or registration is presented, I would not suggest purchasing the used ATV for either public or private use, as this will likely lead to legal issues in the future.

However, if you are only planning to operate it in private areas, a title and registration may not be required.

Despite this, check in with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and determine what laws regarding ATVs are in place in your state.

When purchasing auto insurance, you do not need to acquire a title and other registration of the used ATV. Generally, though auto insurance is optional, it’s always a good idea to have one during emergencies.

Auto insurance policies are available for ATVs depending on the insurance company. For example, Nationwide and Progressive have insurance plans for ATVs available. Depending on the plan, ATV insurance will cover the costs of accidental injuries and damages to the ATV.

Overall, there are many things to consider when buying a used ATV, but once you know what to look for, the process is relatively easy.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

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