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Top Tips for Buying a Used ATV or Motorcycle

  • Chad Brooks
  • Jan 04, 2018

Choose your budget and see the new ATVs that are out there.

When I ask a customer why they are looking for used ATV’s and Side by Sides instead of new ATV’s and SSV’s they always tell me the same thing. “I can’t afford a new machine”. My questions to them are, “What’s your budget?”, and “Are you financing”?

Most of the time, people don’t look for ATVs for sale or UTVs for sale, and just assume that a used ATV or UTV is cheaper. That’s not always the case. When the used market is booming, the manufacturers feel the pain. They are forced to come out with lower priced models, and offer extra incentives to move the machines. Because of this, there are often models out there to suit your needs, and fit your price range.

Little tip: Sometimes, people refer to them incorrectly as a "side by side atv". An ATV is a vehicle that usually has one rider or can have a second rider sitting on the same seat behind them. The UTV models, also known as a utility vehicle or a side by side, sit more like a traditional vehicle with two people sitting beside each other and sometimes a few more seats are behind them, depending upon the model. Similar to a golf cart but built for offroad terrains.

At Brooks Powersports, we offer Can-Am ATVs for sale, starting at $5,999, and Can-Am Side by Sides starting at $9,999. In addition to that, you have to think about financing if you’re going to finance. The likelihood of your rates jumping up for a used ATV or Side by Side, are fairly good compared to that of a new. This increases the price of the used ATV right there (Amount paid in interest). This past week I had a customer come in to look at a used Side by Side that we no longer had in stock. Before he left, I asked him what his budget was and why he was looking for a used Side by Side. He told me that he couldn’t afford a new machine and his budget was $11,000. I immediately showed him the Can Am Defender HD5 starting at $9,999, and including rebates of up to $1,000. If the machine would work for him, then why not get a new one? He has peace of mind knowing the very short history of the machine. He also knows that it comes with a manufacturer warranty of at least six months, and extendable out to three+ years. I know the decision that I would make.



BUT… Sometimes a used powersports vehicle is the best way to go. To best find a machine that’s going to run well for you, here are some tips...

ASK QUESTIONS and Take a Step Back to Look at the Used ATV or Side by Side

The seller wants to get rid of their ATV for a reason. Ask them as many questions as you can to see if you can find out why they’re selling it. Oftentimes, during a long conversation the truth will come out. Hopefully it’s something that you want to hear. Some question’s that you can ask include:

What’s the mileage?

A tip for those of you purchasing an ATV is how to judge the mileage. I’ve been told that you need to multiply the ATV miles by 25 to give you a sense of the mileage it would equal if it were a car or truck. For example: I have an ATV with 3,000 miles on it. 3,000 x 25 = 75,000 car miles. Would you purchase a car with 75,000 miles? Is the price right for something with those miles?

What’s the service history, and could I have the VIN number to contact a dealer?

Get the VIN and call a dealer to find the unit history, and exact information. Every manufacturer might not have that feature, but I know Can-Am’s do.

Also, look at the ATV or UTV. Is there a lot of damage to the body? If so, it may have been ridden pretty hard. A clean, good looking ATV, should give you the impression that it’s been taken care of and hopefully, garage kept.

Look at the Tires and Drive System

Tires aren’t cheap!! If you see bald, or beat up tires, then use that as a way to get the price down on the used ATV or UTV. Also, check for plugs and nails in the tires. That’s something simple to look for, but often gets overlooked.

The drive system can also be expensive to work on, or replace. Take a look at the axles, boots, differentials, gearbox, etc. Look for any excess grease or fluids coming out of them. That may indicate a tear or a leak. Also look for cracks. It may be small, and simple, but it could lead to a larger problem down the road. In addition to a visual inspection, grab the CV joints, or half axles and give them a small pull. See if there’s any play in them. If so, it may indicate that there are seals out, or something is wrong between the axles and differentials.

Inspect the Frame

Step back and make sure that everything looks square on the used ATV or SSV. Put the ATV on level ground and get down to see how it looks. If one side is lower than the other, then there might be a bent frame. Question and inspect it closer. Once you’re done looking at it from afar, get close and inspect as much of the frame as possible. Look for cracks, bends, etc. A popular reason for people to get rid of their used ATV is because they bent the frame, or cracked the frame, and don’t think that the buyer would notice.



Ride the machine!

If you’re an impulse buyer, like a lot of people are, you might just see it and throw money down right away. Make sure you ride the ATV or UTV before making any decisions! When you ride it, TEST EVERYTHING! Put it into 4wd if possible and make sure that it goes in and out of 4wd, as well as rides okay with-it in. Try the machine in Reverse, Low, etc. Make sure that the gears shift smoothly, and properly. If anything feels off, then question it.

If you're starting out in the sport, going with a used unit is always a good option.  As well as other dealers, we have an ever changing selection of used ATVs or UTVs.  You can browse our selection online, give us a call or stop in to see what we have. As expert an ATV dealer and a expert UTV dealer, we're here to help you find the right machine for your needs. 

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