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How to Start an ATV


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In order to get riding, you’re first going to need to start the engine. 

Different ATVs may have different start up procedures. Along with this simple guide, be sure to refer to your ATV owner’s manual to learn about the specific features and functions on your quad. 

This page will provide you with the basic steps to start an ATV as well as some tips if your ATV won’t start. 

Rember, before you start the engine get ready to ride, be sure you are wearing your ATV riding gear and that you are familiar with how to ride an ATV

Initial Steps to Start an ATV

Most quads will follow the same start up procedure. 

When you are ready to start the engine, you should first:

  • Position the ATV in a safe direction and location. 
  • Shift the transmission into Neutral or Park with the parking brake on. 
  • Perform a pre-ride inspection. 

Next, to start your ATV, you’ll need to:

  • Turn the fuel valve into the ON position.
  • Turn the kill switch and ignition into the ON or RUN positions. 
  • If the engine is cold, turn on the choke. 

After that, you’ll be ready to start the engine. 

How to Start an ATV

There are a few common start-up methods for most ATVs, they include:

  • Electric starter. 
  • Kick start. 
  • Pull start. 

For an electric start, all you’ll need to do is press the start button and the engine should fire up. 

For a kick start or pull start engine, you may need to turn the engine over once or twice before it kicks in. 

Kick or pull the engine smoothly. 

How to Get Moving

Once you’ve got the engine running and warmed up to operating temperature, you’re ready to ride. 

To get moving on your ATV, you’ll need to:

  • Sit properly on the quad with your feet planted on the footrests and both hands on the handlebars. 
  • Apply the brakes. 
  • Release the parking brake. 
  • Disengage the clutch and shift into first gear.
  • Smoothly release the clutch and brakes and gradually apply the throttle. 

How to Start an ATV That Has Been Sitting

If you haven’t ridden your ATV in a while or it has been sitting over the winter, it may be a little harder to start up. 

Here are some tips to get it running. 

First, you should:

  • Make sure the battery is fully charged. 
  • Flush and replace the engine fluids and fuel. 
  • Clean or replace the air filter. 
  • Clean and adjust the carbs, if necessary. 
  • Complete any other regular maintenance and tune-up items, if you haven’t already done so. 

After that, you should be able to easily start your quad again. 

If storing your quad for long periods of time or over the winter, you should take the steps to store it properly and keep your battery charged. 

Learn how to charge an ATV battery here. 

Troubleshooting Why Your ATV Won’t Start

An ATV needs 3 things to start and run properly: fuel, air/compression, and spark. 

If your quad won’t start after performing the standard start-up procedure, you’ll need to figure out which one of the components above isn’t functioning. 

  • Confirm that fuel is reaching the carburetors and combustion chamber. 
  • Make sure that the battery is fully charged and the spark plugs are firing. 
  • Ensure that there are no vacuum leaks and that the air filter is clean. 
  • Make sure that there is adequate compression in the cylinders. 

Check out these troubleshooting tips for why your ATV won’t start

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