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Selecting a used ATV

By Simon Meade - Suzuki New Zealand

The following information should help you as a lifestyle block owner, to make an informed decision when purchasing a new or used ATV.

The most important thing to remember is that they are not tractors and was never designed to be used as one. The all terrain vehicle has been developed for the United States recreational and utility market where sales for 1999 exceeded 700,000 units, most of the application by New Zealand’s farming community puts ATV usage outside the original design parameters.

What does all that mean to you the consumer? Because of the varied usage not all second hand ATV with a similar kilometer reading and date of original sale represent a similar value for money. Most farm quads are purchased for commercial reasons and are treated as just another piece of farm machinery. Whilst most receive adequate servicing an ATV’s history is just as important as its sale price. Ex dairy farm bikes for example generally suffer from accelerated corrosion and usually higher engine component wear due the type of usage.

After the initial decision to purchase is made the first consideration will be the amount of money you are prepared to pay for a used ATV. Listed below is a basic guide to give you an indication on how far your dollar will go. Secondly you should remember all manufacturers offer different features on their ATV, the basic design and engine capacity may follow a similar pattern but you should look further than that.

  • Up to $1000. Old 3 wheelers and some even older and very tired 4 wheelers. Expect to be spending time and money to keep these ATV going. Unless absolutely necessary I would recommend you stay away from any unit in this price range unless you are an expert.
  • $1000- $2000. The typical ATV in this price range will probably be an older 2wd drive although some of the pre 1991 4wd will fall into this range. Be prepared to spend time and money keeping these ATV going. Stay away from this price range if you are going to use the ATV on a regular basis.
  • $2000- $3000. This price range should provide a range of older 4wd ATV and a few over 250cc Quads. If you are planning to use the ATV more than once per week it would pay to spend a little more money.
  • $3000- $5000. You should find a good selection of ATV from your local motorcycle shop within this price range that are sold with a limited warranty.
  • $5000- plus. There are plenty to choose from, pick a colour.

Before handing over the cash make sure you take the following steps:

  • If you chose to buy privately arrange to have a qualified motorcycle repairer carry out a full workshop appraisal on the ATV. The cost of this will vary but consider it money well spent. Being mechanically minded is not a qualification for inspecting used ATV as there are many traps for the unwary.
  • Don’t forget to make sure there are no outstanding finance agreements on the ATV. It is also important to make sure the unit isn’t stolen.
  • Get a test ride on your property and make a comparison with at least one other ATV

If purchasing from a dealer, make sure you ask the following questions:

  • Is there any warranty on the unit? If so get it in writing.
  • Can they produce a service history for the unit?