Repairs on a used off-road vehicle can be expensive.
When ATV owners think about whether we should buy used ATVs instead of new, the health of a pre-owned ride gives us the most pause. If significant repairs are needed to keep the vehicle in good working order, we’d probably be better off buying a new ATV altogether, right?
The truth is, unless you get a full third-party Condition Report or a private seller is completely upfront with you, there’s a good chance your ride could turn into a lemon a few months down the road. The frame might have a few nicks and dents, but there could be some serious problems with the engine you didn’t notice before and now need to be addressed.
Unfortunately, some new buyers catch these issues too late because they didn’t know which questions to ask before sealing the deal. There are also those who change their riding preferences as they become more familiar with ATV riding, so what worked for them initially doesn’t anymore.
ATV repairs can be costly, the frame and engine setting owners back the most. If these setbacks weren’t addressed before leaving the lot, assess the damage and decide whether repairing the vehicle on your own is a worthy investment of your time and money or if more capable hands, i.e. a professional mechanic, are required. Be careful, however, because if you choose to repair your machine on your own, you risk decreasing the ATV value (stock-condition vehicles are usually preferred in resale situations).
For those who are noticing mechanical issues shortly after purchase, don’t panic. Your machine might just need a simple tune-up. If you’re comfortable servicing it on your own, go for it (the service manual will break it down for you). A general tune-up can cost anywhere between $100-400, and includes anything from changing the oil, to swapping out spark plugs, to flushing out the braking and/or cooling systems, etc. If you take your ATV to a professional, however, expect to spend $80-100/hour on labor fees alone.
In case your ATV requires tweaking to improve its performance on the track, a top-end engine rebuild is the first place to start. If done by a professional mechanic, a rebuild can cost upwards of $550 for 2-stroke engines, $750 for 4-stroke, both amounts including parts and labor. Expect to spend around $200-400 if you perform the rebuild on your own, which is a marked reduction, but still pretty hefty depending on what the ATV values at, at the time of repair.
Finally, if you choose to buy used ATVs, it’s possible you’ll have to make adjustments to improve its fuel economy, especially if it’s a performance vehicle. Depending on whether your machine uses fuel injection or carburetor, and something goes amiss in either system, you may be spending more than you bargained for in repairs. While many riders prefer electronic fuel injection (EFI) to a carb, maintaining EFI machines can be a big undertaking for those who don’t know their way around an ATV, so a professional is recommended (remember those labor fees I mentioned earlier?).
Other adjustments a rider of used ATVs might have to make include replacing the clutch ($150-500 depending on whether you’re replacing the entire system), adjusting the valves, and a total shock rebuild (this one’s a doozy, too, at nearly $300 for parts and labor).
When you commit to buying a used ATV, you are essentially agreeing to repair any immediate wear and tear from the previous owner. Fortunately, if used vehicles fall more in line with your budget, you can bypass a private seller altogether and still purchase a reliable used machine that not only comes with a comprehensive CR, but that is also covered by a Money Back Guarantee.
All in all, the cost of an ATV repair, even if done autonomously, stacks up over time, often exceeding what you initially spent on the used ATV. So, if you don’t have the time, money, or desire to fix your four-wheeled machine on your own, buying either a certified third-party used model or a brand-new ATV is in your best interest.
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