Thinking of buying an ATV? What you need to know

5 minute read Published on Jul 26, 2021 by BrokerLink Communications

Thinking of buying an ATV? What you need to know

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are often associated with adventure! Whether it’s used for work or play, an ATV is fun to drive; however, there is a lot to consider when purchasing one. Read on to see the tips, we’ve put together to help you do the research required, so you’re better equipped when it comes to making the decision that’s right for you.

What’s an ATV?

An ATV is also known as a quad, or quad bike. It’s a motorized, off-highway vehicle designed to travel on four low-pressure tires. The lower tire pressure adds traction when riding through rough or slushy terrain. ATVs usually have a seat designed to be straddled, with handlebars for steering control.

Prior to purchasing an ATV, it’s a good idea to take an ATV tour to practice riding one, especially if you’ve never used one before. ATV tours are available across Canada so check out the one closest to you!

The tour company will likely explain all you need to know but we recommend starting slow when riding, to get a feel for the vehicle; reduce risk of injury, and avoid an accident.

What are the different types of ATVs?

ATVs can come in many shapes and sizes. It’s important to choose the one that is best for you and your purpose. What function will it serve – fun or work-related? Are you buying it for an adult or a youth?

There are three main types of ATVs. Read below to learn more about the different types.

Utility ATVs

Utility ATVs are typically used in commercial settings like on construction or agricultural sites, due to their ability to haul and plough. They are also used for activities like hunting, fishing and camping. As a result, the engines are typically very powerful and designed to tackle large rocks and hills, and carry heavy weight.

Sport ATVs

Sport ATVs are designed for adventurers and thrill-seekers. They’re quick, lightweight, agile, and responsive. Tackling jumps, bumps and quick turns can be a breeze with this vehicle. Sport ATVs offer modifications to alter the aesthetic or performance of the vehicle. Sport ATVs are not recommended for beginners because of their speed capabilities.

Youth ATVs

Youth ATVs are made for children and teenagers, and are designed according to size and age of the individual. Safety is a top priority for this type of ATV: the transmission is usually automatic so they don’t have to shift gears; the engine is not as powerful, and the speedometer is limited. In some models, if the child falls off the vehicle, the engine will shut off.

Remember, ATVs are not toys. Have fun but keep safety top of mind and follow the laws of your province or territory when it comes to allowing youth to drive (read below for more on ATV safety).

For adult beginners, ask about entry-level ATV models; they are slower, and come with automatic transmission making it an all-around safer choice for those just learning the ropes.

Should you buy from a private seller or a dealer?

Purchasing an ATV, is just like buying a new car, you want to take your time to do the research and make sure you understand what you’re purchasing.

Consider the following tips to help you make the decision as to whether to purchase an ATV from a dealer or a private seller.

Buying from a dealer

Buying from a certified dealer offers many perks.

  • They keep a large inventory, which provides more options to choose from when it comes to price and model.
  • They have ATV experts on staff who can thoroughly answer all your questions.
  • They can offer better protection to you as a consumer, including offering a warranty on both new and used ATVs (A private seller may be unable to offer a warranty, so if there is an issue with the ATV, you’re out of luck.).
  • They can offer you financing options.

Buying from a private seller

Buying an ATV from a private seller may save money but there are some unique challenges.

  • It is important to spend more time inspecting the vehicle and pay attention to the following:
    • Check the body for cracks in the plastic, rust, bent handlebars, wear on tires, frame cracks, or past repair jobs.
    • Inspect the seat, wheels and rims, headlights and taillights, modifications, bearings and ball joints.
    • Check for leaks in the head gasket, valve cover, radiator, and shocks.
  • When you test drive:
    • Ensure it starts well and the engine sounds good - listen for any unusual sounds.
    • Test all the gears.
    • Check for slippage, stability, stopping and alignment when riding the vehicle.
    • Test that the breaks work well, including the emergency / parking brake.
  • Request from the seller the service history and documentation of the vehicle, along with their reason of selling, and history of use.
  • Ask where it has been stored when not in use.

Be extra cautious if you are purchasing through an online seller as you are unable to physically inspect the ATV for many of the items in the list above.

Safety first: understand the rules

Before you hit the (off)road, safety should always be a priority. In Canada, laws governing ATV use are different in each province and territory. Be sure to do your research depending on the province or territory you reside in. Here are some general rules to remember:

  • Ride sober: drugs and alcohol should not be used before or while driving an ATV.
  • Most provinces require ATV drivers to wear a government-certified safety helmet specific to ATVing.
  • Do your research before allowing your child to drive an ATV. Most provinces have restrictions for young drivers, including drivers under 14 years are to be supervised by an adult.
  • Single-driver ATVs should not take on passengers as they are designed specifically for one rider. A passenger can impact the vehicle’s balance.
  • Never ride beyond your skill level or abilities.

Keeping safety top of mind while riding will ensure it’s always a fun time.

Get the right insurance coverage for your ATV

Did you know that if you use your ATV on public property or to cross public roads or lots, you must have it insured? Of course, you want coverage for other reasons, including accident-related damages, theft, vandalism, and liability.

Before you start your ATV adventure, contact one of our knowledgeable brokers to help you find the coverage you need for your ATV. We take the time to understand your needs, ensuring you get a customized policy. We then do the comparison shopping and make sure you are getting the best value possible.


FAQs when buying an ATV

What are the risks involved when riding an ATV?

ATVs are powerful vehicles and while they can be fun, they also pose many risks. Crashes are a common risk and can be caused by driver or judgment error, loss of control, carrying a passenger on a single-passenger ATV and more.

Do I need a license to drive an ATV?

Whether you need a license to drive an ATV will depend on where you live and how it will be used. Licenses are required in most provinces if you plan to do on-road driving. However, only certain highway series permit this type of vehicle. It’s important to do your research in your province.