There's a right way and there's a wrong way.

After spending thousands of dollars for a new ATV don't cheapen your investment five minutes after getting it home. Like all new machines, quads need a breaking-in period and ignoring sound advice on getting the most out of your 4-wheeler can lead to long term damage and expensive repairs.

So before opening the throttle on your just-brought-home-from-the-dealer quad, check out these tips for new ATV owners and do a little "homework" to get the most fun, the best riding experience and enhance your safety.

Don't fire up this Honda TRX 450 before following some basic tips

Listen to the Dealer

If you've purchased your new ATV at a reputable dealer, the sales person should send you home with some advice and instruction on what to do and what not to do. This can range from proper riding techniques to general maintenance. Secondly, if you have questions, ask them. Take notes if you have to.

Read the Owner's Manual

This is tied with listening to the dealer who might simply tell you to read the owner's manual very carefully. The owner's manual on your new quad should provide operating tips, riding tips and what to do before that first ride or what not to do like start it up and roll the throttle while in neutral to impress friends. Some manufacturers may require certain steps to take before starting the engine the first time. The owner's manual is also your go-to for maintenance schedules and finding information on buying the right replacement parts.

Check Fluid Levels

Your new 4-wheeler should have the correct amount of oil, coolant, transmission and brake fluid. The key word is should. Mistakes happen along the way so check all fluid levels. The last thing you want is to start a dry engine.

Check Air Filter

The air filter may or may not come pre-oiled. If you're brand new to ATV riding then oiling your air filter may come as a surprise but indeed it's done. If it's dry grab some air filter oil and get the filter tacky before putting it back in the airbox. After you ride, check out How to Clean a Dirt Bike or ATV Air Filter.

Adjust Riding Position

It's unlikely you'll sit on your ATV and be perfectly comfortable with the location of the handlebars and controls. Adjust the levers, clutch and handlebars to your liking and once you finally get that first ride in, expect to make some more adjustments as necessary.

Check the Drive Chain

Too loose, too tight? Ensure the drive chain is properly tightened or your first ride will end quite abruptly. The owner's manual gives you all the information on adjusting the chain. Don't forget to lubricate it either. It might have a slight coat of grease from the factory but you'll need to get it properly lubricated.


This is one you can play with prior to riding however you'll find during that first ride you're better able to judge suspension compression and rebound and dial in later what best fits for you.

Tire Air Pressure

Checking the tire pressure is one of the regular routines of general pre-ride maintenance. You might as well get used to it so check the tires before that first ride. It's our bet you'll need to add quite a bit of air before that first ride.

Tighten Everything

Another pre-ride maintenance routine that makes sense before the first Moto. Tighten all the bolts and nuts on your quad. Pay special attention to the swingarm bolt and axle nut.

Fill with Gas

You've memorized the owner's manual, followed our tips and now it's time for the first ride. But sadly your ATV doesn't start. You fumble over the manual again, check fluids then get ready to angrily call the dealer about this lemon they sold you. Wait! New ATV's don't typically ship with a tank full of gas. When checking the fluid levels, don't forget to put gas in!


Take it easy your first time out. And the second. And the third. Practice riding, whether you're in it for racing, trail riding or just plain fun, and know the feel of your quad. Fully understand each lever's function and be a competent operator of the machine before you start pushing the boundaries.

Investing in a new quad is much like investing in a new car. You ask the dealer questions, consult the owner's manual and then take your time getting to know the machine before taking. Riding a quad for the first time is a unique experience and one you'll never forget. Following the steps above prevents premature wear and tear on your new ATV, helps reduce maintenance headaches and keeps you riding for a long time to come.