From farm work to trail riding, there are many ways in which an ATV can help you relax and unwind. Buying used is a fantastic way for people to achieve the goal of being an ATV owner without having to empty their wallets, but it can sometimes be hard to know if you are getting a good deal. Since owners often calculate use by hours, people often ask, is 200 hours a lot for an ATV?
The overall lifespan of a quad will depend on how the machine is used, where it is driven, and how well it is cared for. A quality ATV well maintained is capable of lasting many thousands of hours.
Continue reading to learn more about buying a used 4-wheeler, including what to look for when buying used and how many hours is considered a lot for a used ATV.
What Is the Life Expectancy of an ATV?
Not only is it hard to pinpoint an exact number when trying to calculate the lifespan of an ATV, but it is a topic that is debated among both professionals and riders. While some riders say that an ATV should last 15 years, others say they do not expect to get much more than five years of use out of their machines.
Although it is common for opinions to differ, the fact that they differ so greatly seems odd. However, the significant difference in opinion may be explained by the many factors that play into the overall lifespan of a quad—such as brand, use, and maintenance.
The Brand of the Quad
The type of ATV that you own may play an influential role in how long the machine will last. For example, Honda has built an excellent reputation among riders for manufacturing quality machines that rarely break down. On the other hand, riders often complain that Polaris ATVs do not last as long as they should and require frequent repairs.
In addition to the brand, the type of engine and other materials used to build the machine might also play a role in its life expectancy. For example, 4-stroke engines tend to be more durable than 2-stroke engines because they don’t fall victim to incorrect gas mix and four-strokes are not designed to run at such high RPMs.
How a Quad is Used
How the machine is used will also influence how long it will last. Trail machines that see light use will have a longer lifespan than a machine that is used for heavy-duty work, such as farm work and plowing.
Additionally, machines that are driven through rocky terrain or submerged continually will need repairs more often than quads that are used on well-groomed trails or roads. How it is driven will also affect its lifespan as hours of open throttle use may strain the engine more than hours of easy acceleration.
How Quad was Maintained
While there are bound to be brands that perform better than others, a key factor in how long your machine will last is maintenance. Even though Polaris may have a worse reputation than Honda, a well-maintained Polaris will last much longer than a Honda that is never serviced.
Riders who anticipate their machine’s needs, stick to the recommended service schedule and take precautions while riding will own their vehicle much longer than riders who simply fix things after they break.
How Many Miles Will an ATV Last?
As we already mentioned, the life expectancy of an ATV depends on several factors, which might explain why the answer to this question among users experience varies so significantly. That said, in my experience, a quality branded ATV that is well maintained should last between 15 to 20 years and is easily capable of clocking up a thousand plus hours.
So what’s that in miles? I’d consider an ATV a high mileage machine if it has over 10,000 miles on the clock and at an average of 100 hours to every thousand miles that equates to about 1000 hours.
There are always exceptions, some brands are just way more durable than others.
I’ve worked on ATVs with 15k plus miles and 2k plus hours but if I was asked to generalize, I’d say an ATV with over the 10k miles and 1k hours is what you might say “Well worn”.
The average lifespan of a regularly serviced quad is around 15 years, while harder working and dogged quads will probably last about 10 years.
How Was the ATV Used?
200 hours is not many hours for an ATV. But as you know, it depends on how the ATV was used. There is a big difference between 200 hours of work use (such as plowing) and 200 hours of leisurely riding on groomed trails. Even further, 200 hours of open throttle riding is much different from 200 hours of easy acceleration.
However, maintenance can make a substantial difference, and a well-maintained work vehicle will be in better condition than a never serviced quad that has only seen well-groomed trails.
Unlike a car, buyers cannot reasonably make a decision about a used machine based solely on an expected lifespan. Instead, it is vital that buyers ask extensively about the history of the machine, how it was used, where it was used, how it was driven, where it was driven, and what routine service was done on the ATV.
And as said some brands are just more durable than others.
Everything considered, 200 hours then is not a lot for a well serviced ATV. I’ve worked on ATVs with a ton of hours on the clock, two thousand plus.
Buyers should also be aware that in some models, the hour meter can run even if the motor is not running.
Several drivers have mentioned leaving the key turned by accident and racking up several hours on their meter.
What to Look for in a Used ATV?
When considering an ATV, divide the miles by the hours to get the average speed of the machine. The answer gives you a flavor of how the bike was used over its lifetime. It is of course an average and so doesn’t tell the whole story.
Take a bike with say 10k miles and 1k hours, running this calculation tells us she’s been driven at an average of 10mph over its life. As said it’s not the whole story but it does help you build a mental view of how she was used by the previous owner(s).
A very low average speed may not necessarily be a good thing, it means she may have been used for some heavy pulling, but at least having the knowledge will mean you’ll know to ask the right questions and you’ll take extra care checking components like transmission, etc.
But since hours and mileage can’t tell you everything you need to know about a quad, it is important to know what else to look for when buying a used ATV.
Tires can tell you a lot about how a quad has been driven, stored, and maintained. If the tires are missing chunks of rubber, this is a good sign that the machine was driven on rugged trails. Cracks in the rubber can sometimes be a sign of poor storage, such as being left out in the winter. Finally, if the machine is wearing tires that are obviously old and in need of replacement, this may be a sign that the maintenance was neglected on the vehicle.
It could also indicate the machine sat for a while and the rider did not want to spend money on tires that would not be used. Tires can be costly, however, knowing that they will need to be replaced may give you some haggle power.
Steering, Suspension & Brake System
Steering that needs constant correcting when driving straight is a symptom of balljoint wear, which is common, especially when oversized tires are fitted. To check for bad ball joints, grip the tire with both hands and try to rock it, side to side. Play indicates a worn steering rod ball joint.
The control A-arms employ ball joints also, and to check those, jack the wheel clear of the ground and rock the wheel top to bottom.
Play is a sign of ball joint wear.
Riders should check the shocks also. If you notice wetness towards the top of the shock, or it feels oily, it is likely leaking and will need to be replaced soon.
Drive CV boots are another common failure. If you notice sand or grease around the CV joints or inner joints, you will need to replace them before they damage the joint.
As with any vehicle, it is imperative that the brakes are working properly. Make sure to check the brake pads, calipers, and rotors for thickness, gouges, and leaks and the brake fluid should be changed every two years.
Most people know they should check the oil when looking at a potential vehicle, but do you know what you are looking for? Both dirty and fresh oil can be a cause for concern. On the one hand, dirty oil could be a sign that the engine was not maintained properly, while fresh oil could be a sign that the seller is trying to disguise that very same issue.
If possible, try to check the oil after you know the vehicle was run (although not until after it has sat and cooled down).
Oil as you know is critical, old oil will break down and it will no longer lubricate the engine properly. This can cause metal parts to wear more quickly, which can cause metallic particles to mix with the oil and compound the issue by acting like liquid sandpaper.
For water-cooled engines, coolant is the next most critical fluid. Check the coolant levels and condition as well. Coolant that appears discolored, oily, full of particles, or low may be a sign of a bigger problem.
Additionally, since coolant has three functions, prevents freezing, guards against internal engine corrosion, and acts as a lubricant, replacing and or topping up with tap water is not a good idea.
Be sure to inspect the body and frame closely for any damage that might signal that the machine has been involved in a crash or was beat on/driven roughly. You should also look for signs of rust/corrosion. Looking at the vehicle from a front perspective may also alert you to any problems.
Frame, shock, and other problems could cause the machine to sit unevenly. Taking measurements may also be a clever way to spot frame damage.
Used ATV Inspection Checklist
Taking a checklist with you is a wonderful way to both know what to look for and make sure that you look at everything. Below you can find some of the most important things to look for while inspecting a used ATV.
- Broken plastic
- Seat wear/damage
- Headlights cracked/foggy
- Chipping paint
- Dents and scratches
- Recent repairs
- Frame issues
- Wheel rims
- Tires wear/damage
- Bent handlebars
- Broken levers or buttons
- Fuel tank
- Skid plate damage
- Starter motor
- Charging system
- Lights front and back (if fitted)
- Dash odometer/speedometer/lights
- Handle bar switches
- Check oil/coolant
- Oily spots
- Engine number
- Chassis number
- Radiator cracks/leaks
- Head gasket leaks
- Air filter clean
- Gas leaks
- Chains (if fitted)
- Belts (if fitted)
- Motor mounts
- Transmission performance
- Diff locks
- 4WD system (if fitted)
- History of valve adjustment
- Wheel bearings
- Ball joints
- Brake pads
- CV joints
- CV boots
- Electric steering (if fitted)
- Starts well/hesitant
- Engine knocking or noise
- Normal acceleration/hesitant
- Exhaust color
- Gear slippage
- Steering straight
- Braking straight
- Look for/research VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) number
- Ask about title
- Ask about service history
- Note condition of other property
- Ask about usage
- Ask about storage
- Ask why they are selling
- Ask about major repairs
- Ask about accidents
- Previous owners
- Title and other documentation
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John Cunningham is a technical writer here at ATVfixed.com. He’s a Red Seal Qualified Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience. He’s worked on all types of mechanical equipment, from cars and trucks to ATVs and Dirt bikes.