Two people riding ATVs

The Ultimate Guide to Proper ATV Storage

All-terrain vehicles (ATV) are an investment that provides fun, utility, and a way to access areas that you may not reach otherwise. Properly taking care of your ATV will extend its lifespan and ensure it’s in top form when you need it most. Unfortunately, the lifestyles of most individuals don’t allow full-time or daily use of an ATV. This means you might need safe storage options to keep your vehicle safe when it’s not in use. Whether you’re deciding where to keep your ATV full-time or you need long-term storage options, taking steps to protect your all-terrain vehicle from damage and severe weather is the best way to ensure it maintains top working performance.

In this complete guide to ATV storage, we’ll cover the following areas:

Types of ATVs

Sometimes called four-wheelers or quads, all-terrain vehicles are as varied as the owners who ride them. Whether you ride for sport, work, or simply to access and maintain rough terrain on your property, there is likely an ATV that will take you practically anywhere you want to go. Like all types of motorized vehicles, ATVs are made with a variety of materials that have different care levels and come in many shapes and sizes. ATV size is listed in cubic centimeters (cc) and refers to the size of the engine. However, it’s safe to assume that ATVs with larger motors and heavy suspension are often larger vehicles that will require more room for storage. These are the most common types of ATVs:

Utility ATV

Designed and built to handle heavy jobs, utility quads are often used in work settings for plowing or hauling heavy equipment. Used in agricultural, ranch, and even construction settings, utility ATVs typically have lower suspension than most ATVs and a large motor ranging from 250cc to 700cc. They are also popular for hunting on rough terrain and for recreation.

Sport ATV

Like the name implies, sport quads are generally used for recreation. They’re built for speed, jump capability, and turns. While sport ATVs appear more streamlined and compact than utility ATVs, they have the same range of motor sizes from 250cc to 700cc. Sport ATVs are built to be light and are typically slightly smaller than utility vehicles with the same size motor. Sport ATVs can be outfitted with many accessories you may not use all the time. Consider your accessories and gear when determining the amount of storage space you need for your ATV.

Youth ATV

These models are made for children and teens, so you can expect them to be smaller than other types of ATVs. Youth ATVs can be sport models or utility models. They range in size from 50cc to 125cc and usually have weight limits that don’t exceed 100 to 150 pounds. Youth ATVs are designed to automatically shut off if the rider falls as a way to help prevent serious injury. However, it’s still essential to ensure you invest in all the necessary safety equipment for young ATV riders.

Side-by-Side ATV

Sometimes called SxS or rhinos, side-by-side ATVs are more like golf carts in their ability to carry passengers and cargo. They have the strong suspension of sport quads and large motors to navigate rough terrain with all the hauling power you need. Side-by-side models are often classified as utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) instead of ATVs because of their ability to carry up to six passengers, the roll cage protection, and the option for six wheels instead of four. These vehicles are typically longer, wider, and taller than ATVs, which means they require more storage space. With larger motors, you can expect them to be heavier as well.

Entry-Level ATV

One step above a youth model, these ATVs are designed for beginners. Entry-level ATVs are smaller vehicles with smaller motors ranging between 125cc and 250cc. The lower power and smaller size make them easy to handle while riders acclimate to gaining the skills needed for riding safely. Entry-level ATVs are available in both utility and sport models.

Utility Sport ATV

As the name suggests, this model brings together the features of sport quads and utility quads for a more versatile machine. These vehicles provide the speed and suspension of sports vehicles and the pulling power of utility vehicles with engines that range from 250cc to 800cc.

High-Performance ATV

If you’re looking for speed in an ATV, then high-performance is the way to go. These machines are built with large motors designed for movement across sand and rocks or hills and mountains. Engine sizes range between 350cc and 700cc.

4 Reasons to Store Your ATV

ATV storage next to a boat in a storage yard

You wouldn’t leave your car sitting outside unprotected for several months at a time if you weren’t driving it. Your ATV needs proper protection when it’s not in use, as well. The outdoor elements can be harsh on any type of material, and you want your ATV to stay in pristine shape for as long as possible. There are a variety of reasons you may decide to store your ATV for an extended period of time. Additionally, the way you store your ATV between uses can keep your vehicle looking and driving like new for years to come. These are the most common ATV storage reasons:

1. Winter storage

Some ATV owners use ATVs for various activities during the winter months. For instance, accessories like detachable show plows and trailers can make your ATV a useful winter tool. Still, riding your ATV during cold weather can be a bit less pleasant than during the warmer months. This usually means that even when you don’t put your ATV to bed for the entire winter, you’ll likely be riding it less during those freezing days. Winter storage for the entire season or long periods of time will require you to winterize your ATV before storage.

2. Daily storage

While this doesn’t fall in the category of long-term storage, your ATV does need a safe place to park while you’re not riding it. The body of your ATV is largely composed of plastic, rubber, and other materials that can sustain damage when continually exposed to outdoor elements. Additionally, while the motor is typically covered, many important hoses and components are at least partially exposed. Not all ATV owners have a suitable space at home for daily storage.

When your ATV is outdoors without a tightly fitted, waterproof cover, it can sustain damage from daily weather that builds up over time. The sun causes damage to seats, cables, tires, and grips. Rain causes exposed metal parts to rust more quickly. Harsh weather can also cause damage if limbs, twigs, or other debris is blown against your ATV. The location you choose for daily storage may have the most impact on how much wear your ATV sustains over time.

3. Travel-related storage

If you’re accustomed to keeping your ATV at home, then you likely want a safe storage option with proper protection if you’ll be away for a considerable period of time. Business travel, military deployment, extended vacation, or seasonal homes all provide a reason for you to find adequate, potentially long-term storage options for your ATV. Seeking public storage options, like a storage facility or other storage options where you know your ATV will be safely locked away, can provide you with peace of mind when you’re not home to ensure your vehicle won’t be damaged.

4. Storage that includes space for accessories and gear

Safety is an important element of responsible ATV ownership. Helmets, proper foot protection, and other safety gear are available to help keep you and your family safe while using ATVs. This equipment is even more vital when young or inexperienced drivers are involved. For many ATV owners, fun accessories are part of the ATV package, as well. Keeping your gear with your ATV provides you with easy access to everything you need when it’s time to ride. That’s why some ATV owners choose to seek storage options that provide extra room for gear. While you might find a way to safely store your ATV outdoors or in a shed at home, most accessories are only properly stored indoors.

ATV Storage Size

Will most ATVs require the same size storage space?

No, utility ATVs are typically slightly larger than sport ATVs, and quads with larger motors are larger than those with smaller motors. Perhaps the most notable storage issue is the fact that the widest ATV in practically any range isn’t necessarily the longest.

The way you store your ATV depends largely on your budget, your preferences, and the availability of secure storage around your home. The size of your ATV will also make a significant difference in your ability to find adequate storage options. We’ve mentioned that ATV sizes are directly related to the motor size. A bigger motor typically means a bigger vehicle. Here’s how you can expect your ATV’s size to correlate to its motor:

Vehicle Engine Size Typical Width Typical Length
Youth ATV 50cc 30-35 inches 48-60 inches
90cc 35-40 inches 56-61.5 inches
Beginner ATV 150cc 32-43 inches 60-73 inches
200cc 40-43 inches 65 – 70 inches (though the longest reaches 79)
Low to Mid-Range Adult Models 250cc 40-42 inches 66-76 inches
350cc 41-45 inches 76-84 inches
Average-Sized Adult Models 400cc 42-48 inches 72-84 inches
500cc 46-48 inches 71.5-94 inches
Large Models 700cc 46-48 inches 72-93 inches, with most falling in the range of 82-85 inches
800cc 46-48 inches 83-94 inches
1000cc 46-48 inches 84-95 inches
Side by Side 59-64 inches 84-95 inches

Types of Storage for ATVs

An empty spot in your garage at home could be a great place to store your ATV, assuming you have space to ride at home or a truck/trailer big enough to haul it. However, not every ATV owner has a spacious garage with extra room. Luckily, there are several types of storage solutions suitable for ATVs. Whether you’re storing your ATV near your home or near your favorite riding location. Consider these ATV storage options.

Outdoor Storage

While outdoor storage isn’t optimal for your ATV, sometimes it’s all that’s available. Luckily, there are ways to protect your ATV from the elements even when you store it outdoors during the coldest months of the year. Outdoor storage tips are useful for both daily storage and long-term ATV storage. Avoiding long-term exposure to the elements is one way to keep your 4-wheeler in peak condition. So use these tips to maximize protection when storing your ATV outdoors.

  • Purchase a high-quality, heavy-duty cover and use it. Exposure to UV rays, frequent rain, and windy, dusty weather can be just as damaging as harsh winter weather. When your ATV is outdoors and you’re not riding it, it should be covered.
  • Use a chain for security. A high-quality ATV could be a target for theft. Use a heavy-duty chain with a secure lock to attach your ATV to a stable structure to prevent theft. Add a security camera for extra safety if possible.
  • Park beside a building. Tall structures provide your ATV with some protection from the elements, especially during harsh weather. A shed or your home can provide shade and partial shelter for your covered quad.
  • Keep it clean. Cleaning your ATV before storage is necessary. If your vehicle is being stored outdoors, you may need to clean it more frequently.
  • Consider options you can use as cover. A high deck or porch might allow clearance for you to park your ATV during the winter months. While this doesn’t provide the same benefits as enclosed storage, it helps you avoid most harsh weather like heavy rain, snow, ice, hail, and UV exposure.

Enclosed Storage

ATV Storage inside a completely enclosed building provides you with the most protection available, especially when you need long-term storage options. Enclosed storage could be near your home in space in your garage, a shed, a barn, or another building on your property. Many ATV owners seek storage units for ATV storage. A 5′ x 20′ storage unit will provide sufficient space for most ATVs. Larger units will provide you with space to store more than one vehicle or an abundance of accessories or gear that goes along with your quad. Even when using enclosed storage, it’s important to properly prepare your vehicle before storing it for long periods of time.

Covered Storage

Covered storage provides a medium range of protection between outdoor storage and indoor storage. If you have an open roof or even a structure that will allow you clearance to park your ATV, then a roof will provide considerable protection from the elements. If you’re using covered ATV storage, it’s best to also use a high-quality, fitted cover for additional protection. A chain and security camera could be a good investment to prevent vandalism and theft.

Elevated Storage

Cold weather decreases the air pressure in tires. Over many months of ATV storage, your tires can become disfigured. Serious tire damage could lead to the need for a new set of tires in the spring (an expense nobody wants). Lifts, jacks, or stands, can be purchased to keep your ATV elevated for winter storage. For some ATV owners, this option could also free up some space for storage in a shed or barn. But if you don’t have the accessories required to lift your ATV for storage, it’s a good idea to rotate your wheels each month to avoid flat spots.

How to Winterize Your ATV for Storage

ATV storage in the corner of the garage

If you plan to put your ATV in storage for the entire winter, there are certain steps you should take to prepare your vehicle for long-term storage and minimize maintenance tasks when you’re ready to ride again. Winterizing your ATV helps you avoid potential damage whether you’re storing your vehicle inside a heated garage or keeping it tightly covered outdoors. Take these steps to prepare your ATV for winter storage.

1. Clean your ATV.

Dirt, mud, or other residue left on your 4-wheeler can lead to rust when left for long periods of time. Thoroughly wash and dry your ATV. Lubricate materials that can dry out over time, and ensure your vehicle is completely dry before placing it in long-term ATV storage.

2. Change the oil and fill the gas tank.

When temperatures drop below freezing, your ATV’s liquids thicken. Dirty oil contains debris that could cause engine erosion over time. Empty the oil from your quad or change the oil and filter before putting the vehicle in winter storage. Fill up your gas tank before winter to prevent condensation that can create rust in the gas tank. Add fuel stabilizer to the fuel to prevent breakdown that could cause fuel system issues.

3. Take care of routine maintenance tasks.

Replacing worn-out parts or damaged components before you put your ATV in storage will reduce the odds you’ll need to perform maintenance in the spring.

4. Remove the battery.

Cold weather will drain the power from your battery. While you could charge the battery frequently during the winter, the easiest option is to simply remove the battery while your ATV is in winter storage.

5. Check your tires.

Cold temperatures will decrease the air pressure in your tires, especially when the vehicle sits still for months. Check the air pressure in your tires and inflate them to the proper level. When possible, avoid storing your ATV in areas where standing water can rot your tires.

6. Seal openings.

As temperatures drop, small creatures seek warm, dry spots to nest in for the winter. To avoid making your ATV a home for rodents, it’s essential to seal any openings to prevent entry. Rodents can chew wires, nest in your air filter, and tear away at fabrics for nesting materials. Use tape, fabric, or whatever you have available to block the exhaust, intakes, pipes, or any other openings that could allow the entry of small animals or insects.

7. Cover your ride.

If you’re storing your ATV outdoors, a fitted cover designed for your specific ATV is essential. A high-quality cover is a good way to provide your vehicle with an extra layer of protection indoors as well. It will prevent your ATV from being exposed to dust, humidity, and damage from animals, vehicles, or people nearby.

8. Elevate your ATV.

If you have the option, elevated storage is the best option for safe ATV storage. Elevation will prevent tire damage and help make your ATV less accessible to rodents.

How to Prep your ATV for Riding After Long-Term Storage

You’re probably ready to ride your ATV right away after leaving it in long-term storage. But proper preparation can help you avoid expensive issues and repairs before you even begin the riding season. Take these precautions to ensure your ATV is ready for riding season.

  • Test the battery and hook it up properly. If you left your battery in place during ATV storage, then check it and charge the battery as necessary before starting the engine.
  • While you probably inflated your tires before ATV storage, cold weather can lead to lower air pressure. Check your tire pressure and add air if necessary.
  • Check your air filter to ensure no small animals are using it for a nest.
  • Check the fluids to ensure no problems occurred during storage. Rodents chewing through lines or other issues could lead to potential leaks.
  • Examine the exterior of your ATV for signs of rust or other weather-related damage.
  • Properly store your ATV cover for use during the next storage season.

If you own an ATV or are thinking of buying one, then storage is an important consideration for protecting your vehicle and extending its lifespan. Keeping your ATV from weather damage will help you avoid damage that could cause accidents or injuries. Whether you use it for recreation or as a tool, your ATV is an important investment you can’t afford to lose. Take better care of your ATV by locating the proper storage options in your area.

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