Buying an ATV with High Mileage: Tips, Tricks & What to Expect

· Buyers Guide,ATV Tips

So you're in the market for a used ATV and have found a plethora of options on KIJIJI, Facebook Marketplace, and at local ATV dealers. But hold on. How many kilometres are too many? What is considered high mileage for an ATV? And how do you know if it's worth the investment? In this post, we'll unravel these questions and more.

Understanding ATV Mileage

In the world of ATVs, there's a wide range of opinions on what constitutes high mileage. Some riders suggest steering clear of anything over 3,000 km, while others are comfortable with up to 10,000 km. In general, an ATV can be considered to have high mileage once it reaches around the 5,000 km mark. With this in mind, it is important to remember that the mileage is only part of the story.

The maintenance history and riding style of the previous owner significantly influence an ATV's condition. In fact, we have come across many ATVs over the years with over and above 10,000 km on the clock with plenty of life left due to a thorough and consistent maintenance schedule.

Average ATV Mileage Per Year

To understand if an ATV has been overused, consider the average kilometres an ATV enthusiast racks up in a year. An average rider, enjoying their ATV mainly on weekends and throughout all seasons, can accumulate around 1,600 km annually. This figure provides a benchmark to evaluate the mileage of a potential purchase.

Hours to Kilometres Ratio

While kilometres give you an idea of how far an ATV has traveled, the hours ridden indicate how hard it was driven. If an ATV has high kilometres but low hours, it may mean the vehicle was driven harder than the adverse. A good ratio to aim for is roughly 25 km for every 1 hour.

Average Lifespan of an ATV

With proper care, an ATV can clock over 10,000 km and still be in good overall condition. Several factors can impact the ATV's lifespan including:

  • Brand: Brands like Can-Am, Polaris, and Honda are known for their reliability. Newer makes have recently hit the scene with suspect reliability.
  • Hours/Kilometres: How these kilometres were accumulated is just as critical as how many there are.
  • Frame Condition: Cracks or dents in the frame may indicate previous abuse or accidents and can lead to costly repair bills. Check out this post explaining how to check for frame twist in your ATV.
  • Maintenance: Regular ATV maintenance is crucial for keeping a rig in good repair. Cleaning, especially after muddy rides, is also a vital key to preventing rust and damage to moving parts. If you're viewing a rig that hasn't been cleaned, it may be a red flag for any amount of miles, but especially for a higher mileage ATV.
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ATV Tires: How Many Kilometres Can You Get From Stock Tires?

A good set of stock tires can last as little as a few hundred to well over 5,000 km, depending on the terrain you ride on the most. It's wise to have different sets of tires for different terrains, like mud tires for muddy trails, sand tires for dunes, and trail tires for well-groomed paths. Using improper tires for the terrain can lead to excessive wear which, in turn, will mean you'll need new tires on a more regular basis.

How Long Do ATVs Last?

The lifespan of an ATV on average is around 15 to 20 years with proper maintenance. We have been witness to quads and side-by-sides with well over 20,000 kilometres and still running strong on several occasions. In the end, the number of kilometres or hours isn't as important as how well the ATV was cared for. Always inspect a used ATV thoroughly, checking for maintenance history, frame condition, and signs of rough usage.

What ATV Make Lasts the Longest?

While each brand has its merits, in our experience Honda has been most often praised for its longevity and robust engines. However, remember that the availability of spare parts, especially for models older than 15 years, is crucial for keeping an ATV running smoothly. Therefore, it's important to consider the brand's popularity and the availability of parts in your local market. Many of the new makes offer bold warranty claims, however, the wait time for parts might tarnish the overall luster for those who aren't extremely patient.

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Making the Decision: Is High Mileage Worth It?

Buying a high-mileage ATV can be a cost-effective way to get into the sport, but it also requires careful consideration. Always inspect the ATV thoroughly, check the maintenance records, and if possible, have a trusted ATV mechanic shop inspect it before you buy. If the ATV is stored outdoors, ensure that it has been stored properly as major issues can arise from improper outdoor ATV storage.

Remember, while mileage is a key factor, it doesn't tell the whole story. A well-maintained ATV with higher mileage can be a better investment than a low-mileage ATV that hasn't been cared for properly. An ATV that has been well-maintained and treated with respect will serve you better in the long run than one that has been ridden hard and neglected.

For more buyers guides from our content team, check out the following posts:


Happy hunting!