Average ATV Lifespan
You’ve thought long and hard about which model ATV is best for your needs, but before you invest your hard-earned dollars into the quad of your dreams, spare a thought about how long your machine is likely to last.
Every ATV is different, and while spending money on spares and repairs is par for the course, there could come a time when it no longer becomes cost-effective to fix up your quad. When repair work starts costing more than you spent on the original purchase, you need to write-off your ATV and invest your money in a new one instead.
Most ATVs will last a long time with careful maintenance; taking care of your machine will save you money in the long run, helping you avoid expensive engine rebuilds. The average lifespan of an ATV is pretty good and there are plenty of riders out there clocking up more miles on machines that are over twenty years old. The second hand ATV market is thriving, mainly because so many ATVs can be trusted to go on and on.
ATV Years and Mileage Averages
It’s impossible to say that your ATV will last a certain number of hours or miles as it depends on many factors like where you are riding, how you are riding, and what care you take of your machine. For example, if you tend to do lots of road riding, you could clock up a few hundred miles quite easily and put very little wear on your ATV. On the other hand, if you are riding deep, muddy trails where you end up submerged every so often, you might only manage around 50 miles before some serious repairs are needed.
If you are buying a second-hand quad, age is not a good indicator of how long your machine will last. You need to find out how it has been ridden. Try to get a good look underneath and check how the boots and bearings look as an indication of how much off-road work has been done. Look for other signs of wear and tear like rust on the frame and beneath the plastics. Chassis rust can spell an early end for an ATV if there isn’t enough good quality metal left to weld onto.
Well maintained quads that are regularly serviced should last over 10 years without too many problems and many go on well into their twenties. Harder working machines should give at least 6 to 8 years of faithful service before they start to let you down.
While it is possible to keep a quad going well into its late teens and twenties, many riders find they outgrow their quads and tend to sell them on the second-hand market. This way, they can make the most of the newest machines with the latest features being produced all the time.
Machines That Live Forever
Some 1980s models still run like new today especially if they have been stored inside, regularly oiled, and kept greased. At the same time. some models less than 10 years old could be ready for the scrap yard. When you ask which makes seem to last the longest, two names come up more often than the rest: Suzuki and Honda.
Suzuki engines, on bikes and ATVs, are definitely built to last and as long you give them the right care and attention, you should be able to get more than your money’s worth. There are some old King Quad 300s to be found that still purr like kittens, and the Suzuki 450 looks like it could go on forever. Parts are also easy to come by, both new and on the second-hand market which means repairs can be cheap and fast if they are ever needed.
Honda has a long-standing reputation for reliability and you see so many golden oldies advertised for sale it goes to show they keep on performing well into their golden years. Often the first choice for heavy farm work and yard duties, tough little Hondas can be trusted to get the job done without needing to spend too much time in the shop.
The Honda Rincon is a great little quad, and there are many of them still being hammered around trails at over 20k miles without needing any extra repairs.
Other quality quads in the used market include the Yamaha Grizzly 700 and the Yamaha Rhino.
ATVs That Die Young
Any model ATV can be killed off early if ridden hard and not maintained, but some models seem destined to give out before their time. There are plenty of Chinese knock-off models that look pretty and can be bought new for less money but parts can be tough to source making it difficult to keep them on the road once they reach more than 6 or 7 years old.
Polaris seems to have mixed reviews: plenty of people rate them highly and would place them at the top of the list, but there are some notorious electrical problems to be had and these are never a cheap or easy fix. The Polaris Arctic Cat is the first choice for many, but just as many others would give it a wide berth.
Keeping Your ATV On The Road/Trail
Whatever model your quad, it’s going to last longer if you take good care of it. Regular maintenance is vital, some of which you can probably do yourself. If you are new to ATV maintenance, it’s a good idea to get it serviced professionally every once in a while to make sure nothing vital is left out.
One of the worst things for causing damage to ATV engines is dust and dirt from the road getting into the engine. You need to change the air filters regularly, and more often if the ATV is used in a dusty environment like a gravel yard or in hot weather.
The other great enemy that can bring your ATV to premature death is mud. You need to keep it greased to protect the underneath from penetrating moisture and never leave your machine covered in sticky mud after a ride. A few minutes to wash it down could be enough to add a few years to its life.
Avoid using a powerful jet-wash, though, as this could damage seals. It’s a good idea to dry your bike by starting the engine before putting it away. Mud can stick to chains and brakes, so you will need to dismantle these and give them a really good clean from time to time. Remember you need to oil or grease everything before you put it back together to avoid corrosion.
Regular oil changes are another important way to make your quad last as long as possible. Don’t forget to change the oil filter at the same time or you will simply push the old gunk into the new oil. Check for corrosion on electrical terminals as this is the main cause of electrical faults. Take each terminal part and lubricate to protect from rust. Look for wear and tear on the wiring while you are at it to avoid the ATV shorting out as you are riding.
Storing your ATV under a roof or indoors is another great way to help it last longer. This will keep the plastic from fading in the sun and stop rain from causing rust and corrosion. If you can’t get indoors, some people like to keep their ATV covered with a tarp or purpose-made cover. A good option is this Badass Moto Ultimate ATV Cover found here on Amazon. This heavy duty waterproof ATV cover has vents, taped seams, and even a zipper to access the gas tank.
These can be really handy, especially if you want to store your ATV for a while, but you need to make sure they are breathable and that your vehicle is completely dry before going away or you will inadvertently encourage corrosion. Simply by getting into the routine of keeping your ATV clean and well maintained, you can give your machine the best chance of a long lifespan.