Buying a used quad can be as fun as buying a used car. While the machines are very different, there can be the same smarmy dealership experience, and the potential for getting ripped off by buying someone else’s problems. Before you plop down your heard earned cash, let’s look at some good to know advice.
First, remember that you are buying a used machine, and it likely will not be perfect. This is not a bad deal, as the price comes down as wear goes up. Looking at ATVs on a budget? You can buy one 10 years old for a great price, and it won’t be pretty, but it could have many years of dependable riding left. On the other hand, an ATV with damage should go for a much lower price, as it needs work. This could be a deal breaker, but it could also be a steal if you are mechanically inclined and don’t mind doing the repairs yourself.
When looking for an ATV, narrow down your search by your riding style and needs. A side-by-side is quite a different animal from a 600cc sport ATV. Consider the landscape you will travel, how much you will need to carry, and how far you will be riding. That should narrow down your choices. Then start looking at every online source, from ATV Trader to Craigslist. Don’t be a manufacturer fanboy, as all the big guys make quality equipment. It is probably a good idea to steer clear of the Chinese brands, as for now their parts support is very lacking. If this is your first time on a certain model or brand, hit YouTube for owner reviews and advice before going to check it out.
Once you find an ATV for sale that meets your needs and is in budget, it’s time to test drive. Ideally, it should be ready to ride once you buy it, so check the tires for wear, and if the previous owner is there, ask about any needed maintenance or damage repair. Sit on it to see if it fits properly and is comfortable. Check to make sure the suspension is level when you are on, as that could be a clue of hidden damage. Start the quad and check the exhaust for any smoke, an indicator of ring damage. It’s not a deal-breaker, but should drop the price. Once the engine is warmed up, take it for a spin, noting the steering and brakes. Does it accelerate well, and shift properly? Don’t be distracted by the fun ride. This is a business transaction, so pay attention to how the machine rides. Be sure to work it over some light obstacles and rough terrain, checking for any unusual noises or handling issues.
Finally, have some safety equipment before you go out riding on your own. All manufacturers recommend a helmet. New ones are very reasonably priced, and will keep your noggin protected. Also look into riding boots, or at least a set of general purpose work boots, if you have nothing else.