Will ATV Run Without Battery?: What To Do If the ATV Battery Is Dead

will atv run without battery

Whether you are planning an outdoor adventure with your Polaris Sportsman XP 1000 or Scrambler 850, you want to make sure that your ATV is ready to hit the trail. One of the most common causes of a failed engine start is a dead battery.

In this article, we’ll provide tips on how to prevent a dead battery, and we’ll answer a common question: Will ATV run without battery?

Will ATV Run Without Battery Power?

ATVs are built to be rugged and dependable. It’s reasonable to assume that your ATV can run with a dying or even a dead ATV battery. If you are wondering whether you can drive your all-terrain vehicle without a battery, the answer depends on several factors.

Small engines, like the ones that are used for lawnmowers, don’t typically need batteries to start, but larger gasoline engines do. ATV engines are typically between 420 and 850 cubic centimeters (cc) in size. Getting an engine of that size to turn over often requires a battery and starter combination.

Of course, All-electric UTVs cannot run without a battery. Now we’ll explore times when you might be able to start your ATV without a fully charged battery.  

Situations Where You May Not Need an ATV Battery

Once an engine has started, it may not need electricity to continue running, but it may need power to restart. If your ATV has a pull start, you may be in luck. The engine starting device uses manual power to start an engine.

Pull starts are commonly used on lawnmowers and other small engines. Owners of these types of engines use a rope or wire to crank the engine. There are typically two pull start options: straight side shaft and vertical side shaft.

If your ATV battery died, you can use the pull start to start your ATV, but you will still want to replace your battery as soon as possible. Pull start engines are more common on older models, so you likely won’t have the benefit of using this option if you purchased your ATV within the past several years.

Potential Downsides of Running an ATV without Battery Power

Even if you can start your ATV’s engine using a pull start, you won’t be able to use your vehicle’s electronics because those devices rely on battery power. If your engine has electronic components like fuel injectors, you may notice that your engine doesn’t run as smoothly as normal.  

If your ATV relies on a push start or another starter that is powered by a battery, then you will need to jumpstart your car, just like you would a dead car battery. This may get you a one-way trip, but you’ll need to replace your battery ASAP.

Modern ATVs are reliant on electronics to run. Once your newer ATV stops, you won’t be able to start it again without another jump.

Signs of a Dying or Dead ATV Battery

If your ATV won’t turn on, one of the first places you should check is your battery. A visual inspection can often help you determine if the battery is past its prime. 

Common signs of a dead or dying battery include:

  • A broken terminal
  • Any bumps or bulges in the case
  • A rupture in the battery casing
  • Signs of leaking
  • Rust
  • Discoloration

If you see a loose or broken terminal, be extra cautious. Starting an ATV under those conditions could cause a short circuit. If you use a wet-cell battery, you may need to add distilled water to the top of the battery. 

Reading the voltage is a quick and easy way to determine if you need to recharge your battery or buy a new one altogether. A fully charged battery will have a voltage reading of around 12.7 to 13.2, while a dead battery will read around 12 or lower.  

What Do I Do if My Battery Dies?

My ATV died. Now what?

It’s good to know what to do when an ATV battery dies. One way to potentially start an ATV that has lost battery power is through a technique known as compression starting. If possible, perform this trick with the help of someone who has done it before.

Push the ATV to a speed of about 5 to 7 mph (8 to 11 kilometers per hour). Performing this maneuver over a slight decline will make your work easier.

As the wheels and crankshaft move, the engine is “tricked” into thinking that it is running. As you reach a brisk speed, try starting the ATV by turning the key. 

If battery corrosion has compromised the connection to the battery, you can use a mild acidic solution (lemon juice and water work fine) to clean the battery terminals.

Besides letting a car or ATV jumpstart your battery, you can also recharge your battery. Depending on how old your battery is, this may add a little extra life to your battery or several extra months.

Keeping a portable battery charger handy can save you from having to make an extra trip to the store before a hunting trip. The relatively small devices can even be kept in your car or ATV. 

Don’t Let a Dead Battery Keep You Off the Trails

“Will ATV run without battery?” is a common question among ATV owners. One of the best ways to keep your battery charged and running efficiently is to make sure that you run your ATV at least once a week. Using your all-terrain vehicle frequently will ensure that your battery lasts its full lifespan.

Are you in the market for a sport UTV? Our experts have compared all the major brands and models on the market, and provided side-by-side comparisons of the results.