If you’re considering getting a used ATV, you might be wondering what is considered as high miles for an ATV. After-all you’re spending a significant amount of money on your new toy and the last thing you want is to get “screwed”. 

If you look around the internet, you might find that there are various opinions about what is actually considered as “high miles” for an ATV. Some people say that you shouldn’t look at anything more than 5000 miles while others think that high miles mean somewhere between 2000 to 3000 miles. 

Generally, an ATV is considered “high miles” once it reaches around 10,000 miles. What’s more important, however, is how it was maintained and how the previous owner rode it. Even at 10,000 miles, if the previous owner took the time and effort to care for the ATV, there could still be a lot of life left in the vehicle. 

ATV Average Miles Per Year

If you need a benchmark figure to compare how many miles you’ve put on your ATV when compared to others, I would like to share my numbers.

I would consider myself an average ATV enthusiast. I like to ride my ATV on weekends and in all seasons including the winter. I average around 20 miles each week on my ATV which translates to about 1040 miles in one year. 

While I understand that some people ride a lot more than I do (ride more days and for more miles each time), averaging 1040 miles on an ATV for a casual ATV owner like myself is reasonable. 

If you ride more miles than I do, it just means that you are wearing down your ATV faster than an average rider and you’ll be doing more maintenance on your ATV.

The Hours to Mileage Ratio

Mileage tells you how far your ATV has traveled but the actual hours that someone has spent riding also needs to be considered this is because:

Hours on an ATV tell you how hard the ATV was driven.

Generally speaking, if you find an ATV with high miles and low hours, it means that the vehicle was driven hard. 

So what is a good Hours to Mileage ratio? I find that around 15 miles to 1 hour (15:1) is a good ratio. Keep in mind that this number can be fudged by ATV owners by simply idling his or her ATV. The ratio does not take idling into account and assumes minimal idling of an average ATV user. It provides a good benchmark for you if you’re worried about high hours on your ride. 

If your ride doesn’t come with functionality to keep track of hours. There are a number of good hour meters that can help you with this. 

What the Average Lifespan of an ATV?

As mentioned above, if you take good care of your ATV, you can put upwards to 10,000 miles on it. There are of course a lot of factors that affect the lifespan of an ATV. Let’s look at these in more detail: 

Brand – Is your ride from a reputable brand like Polaris and Honda? These companies have had a great reputation over the years and the #1 reason behind this is their products superior reliability.

Hours / Miles – You should realize that using only the number of hours and miles is not important in determining the average lifespan of an ATV. What’s more important is HOW they were put on the ride. 

One way to check is to jack up your ATV and check the bearings. Look for any rips or tears in your CV boots. 

CV boots help to protect and retain the grease inside your CV axles and they wear down over time. Once a CV boot is ripped, your CV joints are exposed and may begin to rust. If you see some big rips in your CV boot, it could mean that the ATV was not maintained properly which leads to a decrease in its lifespan. 

Frame – exterior plastic pieces can be easily replaced but it’s the condition of the frame that counts. To check this, try to remove the exterior plastic body pieces and look for cracks or dents in the frame. This is usually a good indication to tell if the ATV was subjected to abuse and roll-overs. A weakened frame will reduce the lifespan of your ATV.

atv in mud

Mud / Dirt – A lot of ATV owners don’t realize how damaging mud and dirt can be to their ATVs.  Mud traps moisture against the exposed parts of your ATV. This creates the perfect atmosphere for rust to develop and weakens your ATV overtime. Rust requires 3 things to develop: water, iron, and oxygen. When water is mixed with carbon dioxide (an element in oxygen), it forms an acid which eats away the iron. 

Mud left on the body of your car will also cause damage to your paint. This is because mud can rub off paint and cause rust to develop. Note that this isn’t usually a problem if the mud is left on for a short period of time. 

Dried mud acts as a hard abrasive material that causes damage to moving parts like bearing and joints. It also affects the function of your brakes.

This is why it’s important to clean your ATV thoroughly after each use. A dirty, muddy ATV has a much lower lifespan than a clean one.

ATV Tires: How Many Miles Can You Get from Stock Tires?

A good set of stock tires can probably let you do 8000 miles before replacement. It depends on the type of surface you ride on the most. You can expect a longer life from your tires if you ride mostly on sand and dirt roads. If you ride a lot on sharp rocky roads, you will see less life. 

This is why it’s important to plan ahead and know what kind of terrain you’ll be riding on and select the right tires for that terrain. E.g, use mud tires for mud, sand tires for sand, etc. Most ATV riders who are serious about the sport will have a few different sets of tires to play with. It’s a bit costly up-front but saves you a lot of stress and expands the life of your stock tires.