How To Start an ATV – Beginners Guide

how to start an atv

It’s no surprise that when you’re a tourist you want the fun and adventurous experience to take you away from your daily life. Research shows that tourists are extremely interested in ATV trails for recreational purposes. 

Remember that ATV experience on the adventure trail during your travels? You had such an amazing time that you decided to get yourself an ATV to keep that sense of adventure alive.

You did your research on ATV riding, learned all you can about ATVs, and even negotiated with the ATV dealer to get the best deal. 

Now that you bought your ATV, you want to learn how to start an ATV so you can look forward to your next ATV riding adventure trail without spending hundreds on a vacation.

Before you head out on your weekend of fun, you should learn how to start your ATV. Keep on reading for tips and tricks on how to start an ATV to get you started on your adventure.

You can start your ATV by setting the parking brake, turning on the fuel valve, putting the transmission in neutral or park, and turning the engine switch to “Run” or “on”. If the engine is cold, put the choke in the “on” position. Before you apply your throttle slowly, press the hand brake, release the parking gear,  shift into gear and then release the hand brake.

What Is an ATV?

An All-Terrain Vehicle or an ATV is also known as a light utility vehicle (LUV), quad bike, or quad. It’s an off-highway motorized vehicle. ATV riding is all about recreational driving on different terrains. It can also be used for military purposes.

You straddle an ATV just like a motorcycle and handlebar steering, but it has extra wheels to provide more stability and support. They have low-pressure tires designed to handle a wide range of trails and terrains.

Most ATVs have a thumb throttle which means you can increase the speed by pressing the throttle with your thumb. You can also get a twist throttle, which means you need to twist the ATV’s handle to increase the speed. This gives you more control over the ATV’s acceleration.

If you’re still debating on which ATV to get, check out the ultimate guide to all the major ATV brands. 

Learn How to Start an ATV With These 15 Steps

Okay superstar, now you have the best ATV and you’re ready for an adventure! You’re probably ready to just jump on and get the party started.

Before you go any further on your ATV ride, check out these 15 steps to take to start an ATV.

1. Read Your Owner’s Manual

Remember that not all ATVs are the same. Some are smaller ATV models for fun while others can be heavier for hauling and towing. Some have more sophisticated ignition and others have more traditional or basic ways of starting them.

How you start an ATV also depends on whether you have an automatic or manual ATV. Your owner’s manual will have everything you need to know to start, accelerate and ride an ATV. You’ll know if your ATV has a thumb throttle or a twist throttle.

Reading the owner’s manual can make all the difference in your experience. If you don’t have a manual, you can always check online for your type and brand of ATV and download your online manual. 

2. Do a Walk Around

Most people just jump on their ATV and get going, but doing a walk around is a good habit to start building. It’s not a big time-consuming event, but a quick check-in to make sure nothing is wrong or suspicious. 

Check under your ATV to make sure nothing is leaking and no parts are just dangling or falling off. Also, do a check of the tires carefully to make sure they look good. You can read more about ATV tire pressure to find the right pressure for your ATV and your type of riding at UTV Ride.  

For tires, check for worn treads, cracks, or bubbles along with the tread or sidewalls. Make sure that there are no nails or stones lodged in the tires.

This may seem obvious but make sure you have enough gas to last your trip. Many avid riders recommend keeping extra gas cans with you just in case, but it depends on how long and how far you’re planning ongoing.

3. Point the ATV in a Safe Direction

Be aware of your surroundings when you first get on the bike. You need to make sure you’re pointing the ATV in a safe direction. This is because if you start too fast or quickly, or lose control, you know that you’ll be safe. 

You also want to make sure that you’re not riding on paved roads, so you don’t get hit by other vehicles. Your ATV is meant to be ridden off-road so driving on a paved road isn’t good for your ATV tires.

4. Set the Parking Brake

Start by setting the parking brake. For a fully automatic ATV, put your ATV in the “Park” position. This is because you want to be safe before you complete the rest of the steps.

5. Turn On the Fuel Valve

Turn on the fuel valve to the “On” or “Reserve” position, depending on how much fuel is in the tank. 

6. Put the Transmission in Neutral or Park

Make sure that the transmission is in neutral or park. You’ll see it on the indicator. If you don’t know where that is, check out the owner’s manual again.

Sometimes you might need to release the parking brake and rock the ATV back and forth. Keep your feet on the feet rest. Reapply the parking brake and check that the transmission is in neutral or park.

For an automatic ATV, all you need to do is put the ATV in the park position.

7. Turn the Engine Stop Switch To “Run” or “On” Position.

Your engine stop switch is usually found by your left or right-hand grip. Check your owner’s manual to confirm. 

Once you know where the engine stop switch is, turn the switch to “Run”, “Start” or “On” position. The language will depend on your type and brand of ATV.

8. If Engine Is Cold, Put the Choke in the “On” Position

If your engine is cold, you need to do this extra step. Make sure to put the choke in the “On” position. If you don’t know where your choke is, check your owner’s manual.

Once your machine is warmed up, remember to return the choke to its normal position. This is extremely important. If you don’t do this step, then the machine will not run properly. 

You can learn more about choke here

9. Apply Hand Brake

Now you’re ready to move, but before you take any steps apply the hand brake. You should get into a habit of doing this. Otherwise, you can end up throttling too hard and fast and losing control.

10. Release Parking Brake

Once you’ve applied the hand brake, release your parking brake. You don’t want to be driving around with your parking brake on.

11. Shift Into Gear

You can now shift into gear to get moving. For an automatic ATV, you just need to go into Drive mode.

12. Release Hand Brake

You’re almost there. Release your hand brake now. Your ATV might move slightly, so you can do this slowly until you have more control over your movements.

13. Apply Throttle Slowly

Apply your throttle slowly. Whether it’s a thumb throttle or a twist throttle, it takes a little getting used to. So, you want to make sure that you always start slow. You don’t want to make sudden moves and lose control.

15. Get Moving

Now you’re ready to keep moving and get on those adventure trails. You were already facing in a safe direction, and you made sure you’re on flat terrain. This is a good start.

Keep it slow and steady in the beginning. You might stall or shudder in the beginning, and those turns can take a while to get used to. If you keep practicing, you’ll be flying in no time.

What if My ATV Still Doesn’t Start?

Sometimes even with all these steps, your ATV may not start. So before you call your ATV dealer or take it to a mechanic, make sure to check the fuel and battery.

You may even consider push-starting the ATV. Get your ATV on top of an incline or steep driveway. Step onto your ATV and put it into gear. Get a second person to give you a boost to help you get started.

You also want to consider some tune-up and maintenance tips such as:

  • Engine fluids flush and replacement
  • Battery charge or replacement
  • Air filter replacement

If none of this works, you may just have to call in some experts. Getting some ATV riding training and tips from experts can make your next trip smoother and easier.

Check Out More Tips and Tricks on ATV Riding

Now you know how to start an ATV and what you need to do if your ATV still doesn’t start. You’re an ATV riding superstar ready for your next adventure trail.

If you’re just starting or an avid rider, you probably still have a lot of questions on your mind. Check out our blog for more articles that answer all your questions about ATV riding like how much gas an ATV consumes