Things to Look For When Buying a Used ATV or UTV

Things to Look For When Buying a Used ATV or UTV

Things to Look For When Buying a Used ATV or UTV

0 comments 📅02 June 2016, 14:34

Things to Look For When Buying a Used ATV or UTV 

Below is a list compiled from several sources, dealers and buyers about buying a used ATV or UTV to help in ensuring that you don’t get “taken for a ride” that you don’t want.

  • Know the seller– If you are buying from a reputable dealer, the scenario may be a little different. However, you still need to be diligent in doing your homework.  Many unbiased websites will show the current price for the year and model that you are looking for. Look around for quality dealers in your area and compare. Recent prices for new ATVs are anywhere from $3,000 – $10,000. So, plan accordingly. Dealers should have detailed records. If buying from an individual, listen for words such as “I’ve outgrown it” or similar verbiage as this may mean something is wrong with it.  In a private party transaction, you’re relying on the seller to be truthful about mechanical issues, maintenance and more importantly– Look for photos or for the seller to send you detailed photos even before you go to look at it. Ask for the engine size, hours/mileage used, garage housed and how it was used. Check on the seller, if possible. If it is on a popular selling site, look for other things that have been sold and if there are any negative comments. Meet in a neutral spot and if possible, ask the seller to drive the ATV to the location, ensuring that it is running correctly.  If the seller is reluctant to drive it, that should be a big red flag.
  • General Appearance– A visual inspection can only give you a few clues to the vehicle. If you are buying from a dealer, their mechanic should have inspected and repaired any problems. Always ask for a detailed report of the work that was done by their mechanic and definitely ask for a warranty. Overlooking the obvious dents, scratches, and wear and tear may not be the best advice.  These may be signs of deeper problems.  A clean and nice looking machine doesn’t mean there is nothing wrong with it.  It may just mean that the problems have been covered up well.  Obvious spots of rust may be a telltale sign of previous damage. Something as simple as discolored plastic may show that the machine has been setting out in the elements. Almost as important in the frame.  This may show you the use or abuse that the machine has had.  It may have been crashed at one time or another. Ask questions!
  • Engine- Check the motor oil for a burnt smell. Look for contaminates or excessive darkness in oil. Dirty engine oil should be a valid concern; however, very clean engine oil could mean the owner may have tried to flush out potential engine problems in older vehicles.  Don’t be afraid to feel the oil for grittiness by rubbing it between your fingers.  Check the coolant for debris and odd colors.  See if water has been used instead of coolant, if so the parts may be affected. Again, if you are buying from a dealer, their mechanic should have inspected and repaired any problems.
  • Before the Test Drive– If it has been running, let it cool and then cold crank it. This will enable you to determine if it is hard to start or if the starter could be in question.  Is it smoking?  What color is the smoke?  Different colored smoke can mean very different problems, from flooding, something wrong with the gadgets, or oil leaking. Can you hear knocking or clicking? The seller may try to explain this away, but these could be signs of serious problems.  You should have a mechanic check it out.  Even if the price is low, a new transmission or motor will be a major expense. Also, check all the lights, signals, and tires.  Tires are another major expense if they need replacing.
  • Test Drive– Maybe the most important part is the test drive. How does it handle, turn and run?  Does it shift gears easily, without hesitation?  Are the brakes in good repair without jerking or noises? Can you handle it well?  Perhaps it is too large or too small. After the ride, check for leaks and spatters.
  • Making the Purchase– If you are purchasing from a dealership, chances are you have already had your financials, credit rate, checked. This should be done before you get attached to a particular ATV and only to discover that you do not qualify.  The dealership should handle all of the paperwork, including the title and mechanic checkup.  Now, on the other hand, if you are purchasing from a private seller, you want a paper trail. Check with your DMV ahead of time to run the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) just to make sure that there are no legal problems with this machine. Also, see what paperwork is required to get a tag, especially if it is in another state. You should get a proper Bill of Sale and some type of receipt that describes the machine, VIN number, and any exceptions.  The bill should be clearly marked Paid in Full.  This paperwork will protect both you and the seller, should any questions arise. Once you are the rightful owner, the seller is no longer liable.  You now have proof of the sale and are the rightful owner in case you find out that you have dealt with someone who is less than honest and who may come back to try to lay claim to it. If you pay in cash, have a receipt from the bank of the exact amount, just in case. No one wants to take checks or cashier checks anymore.

A used ATV or UTV is quite an expense as is the upkeep.  Remember to do your homework and check around.  Even if you are not buying one from a dealership, it might be worth a look to see what the prices are.  Don’t jump at the first one you see. Devote some time and effort to getting a good, but reliable deal.  The cheapest isn’t always the best, especially if you end up having to replace major parts that you overlooked before.

 

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