How to Perform a Pre-Ride Inspection For Your ATV

There are certain things you need to check each time before you ride your ATV. This is called a pre-ride inspection, and it’s important because it helps you enjoy your ride without hassle, keep your machine in good shape for as long as possible, and stay safe. You don’t want to get in an accident or get stranded far from any food, gas station, or help. Read this post to learn how to perform a pre-ride inspection for ATV and UTVs.

pre ride atv check

How Long Does It Take to Perform a Pre-ride ATV Inspection?

Depending on your ATV, you should be able to do the whole inspection in 5 to 10 minutes. What’s five or ten minutes when it can save you money, make your ride more enjoyable, and keep you safe?

Why You Need to Do an Inspection Before Every Ride?

ATVs aren’t cars, and you’re not riding on paved roads. These machines take a lot of punishment, so anything can happen at any time from wear and tear or damage. You could also find yourself in a very bad situation if something goes wrong out there, so you don’t want to take any chances.

First Things First

Get out your owners’ manual. There are some model-specific details about how to inspect your ATV before a ride such as how to tell your various components are right for your machine, not just right in general.

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ATV Pre-ride Checklist

Before you ride an ATV you should check all of these things.


The fluids in your ATV are like the blood and water in your body, they’re crucial to the machine’s health.

So, before you ride, check the level and the quality of the:

  • Fuel
  • Coolant
  • Engine coolant
  • Brake fluid

Also look under the machine to make sure there is no sign of a leak.

Air Filter

Look at your air filter and make sure that it’s pretty clean and free of damage. Otherwise, you’re in for a bad ride.


Give your suspension a quick visual inspection for noteworthy issues. Grasp the wheels and rock them side to side and from top to bottom to make sure there is no play. If there is, you will need to replace your ball joints or wheel bearings.

Make sure to test the bolts and other crucial fasteners on your axles and all over your suspension system. These are particularly likely to jar loose, and you don’t want them to go.


Always check the tire pressure before a ride for the pressure level and that the tires on both sides of the machine have the same amount of air. Make sure to check your owner’s manual for the correct pressure for your tires. While you’re at it, give them a visual inspection for signs of wear or damage.

Handlebars and Footrests

Give them both a little shake to test that they’re safe.

Electrical Components

Check your lights, ignition switch, and kill switch. Even if you’re only planning to ride during the day, you could need your lights if the weather turns bad on you.

Steering and Drive System

Check the drive shaft for leaks, and make sure it has plenty of lubricant. Your owner’s manual will tell you how to check that and how much you need.

Look at your drive chain, and make sure it is lubricated. If it doesn’t appear to be adjusted properly, your owner’s manual will tell you how to fix that.

Other Components to Check

Test the throttle by making sure that it can move freely and that it snaps when you close it.

Make sure the ignition switch looks good and works. Also test the engine stop switch.

Test that brakes work and feel the foot shifter for signs that it is secure and able to be used.

Test the muffler and the spark arrestor to make sure they are secure.

Check the spark plugs.


Make sure that your registration is current and your stickers are in place as required in your state.


Consider checking all of the bolts you can access by trying to turn them with your hand. It’s not 100% necessary, you can do it every few rides, but every time wouldn’t hurt.

Test Your ATV

Give your ATV a little test run before you tackle your riding adventure. Notice whether the brakes, throttle, and accelerator are operating normally. Listen for any odd sounds.

Remembering the Checklist

You can either make a physical checklist for your garage or put one on your phone to make sure you don’t forget anything until it becomes a routine. Some people use phrases to help them remember like START-GO or T-CLOC, breaking the pre ride inspection ATV owners use down into groups with letters. Do whatever works for you.

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