What Are High Mileage and High Hours for an ATV?

Understanding high mileage and high hours on ATVs and UTVs is crucial to buying or selling a used vehicle. There isn’t an easy answer, so read this post to prepare yourself for a great purchase.

How to Consider Hours to Miles on ATV Purchases

Like cars, ATVs that have been driven more miles have seen more action and have less life left in them, but ATVs and UTVs differ from cars in that you need to know the hours as well as mileage.

The ratio of miles to hours can indicate how the previous owner rode their vehicle, so you need to notice both numbers and compare them. If the ATV has high mileage but a small number of hours, they probably rode very fast and maybe recklessly. You would need to ask them about that. If the ATV has low mileage and many hours, this ATV was probably used for hauling or in tough terrain where their speed had to remain low. How bad that is depends on well the vehicle was maintained.

15 miles to 1 hours is the ideal hours to miles ratio on ATVs.

Truthfully, the most important thing you need to know is how the ATV or UTV was ridden and how it was cared for.

atv trail riding

What is The Average Lifespan of an ATV?

ATVs are intended to last 10 years or 10,000 miles. If they’re well cared for, they might last longer.

How long an ATV actually lasts varies greatly depending on the quality of the vehicle, the way it was ridden, and how it was maintained.

Some are useless after 100 hours, because they were a cheap brand and/or the owner abused or neglected the vehicle. Some can withstand harsh, truly harsh environments.

For hardcore riding, don't forget about your own safety and comfort. Opt for specialized ATV/UTV breathable waders. Multi-layer membrane fabric, extra reinforcement in high-stress areas and dirt-repellent coating are a perfect combo for off-road hazards.

atv mud riding

Factors that Determine the Lifespan of an ATV


If you’re buying a used ATV, look for brand names you recognize and know are respected. This won’t answer all of your questions because someone can still run a great vehicle into the ground, but it is a crucial indicator of the original quality and expected life span of the vehicle.



This is the most important factor in the life of an ATV or UTV.

Previous owners have to have kept up with recommended service intervals, cleaned the ATV after every ride or weekend of riding, and made all necessary repairs.

Hard or Light Hours

Light trail riding, light to moderate farm use, and hunting, camping, or fishing trips fall in the light hours category. This puts little strain on the vehicle, so it will last a longer period of time.

Deep mudding, water use, higher than average speeds, rock climbing, and extreme hauling are hard hours that wear a vehicle out fast. It’s great fun while you’re doing it, but no one should expect these machines to last their full lifespan or to get top prices when they try to sell them.


Proper or improper storage impacts the life of the vehicle. It needs to have been stored indoors and protected from light, pests, and moisture. The area should also have been well-ventilated.

When storing the ATV, the owner should also have been mindful of fluids, tire pressure, and battery tending.


As cool as modifications are, they put a strain on the machine and decrease its lifespan. Take this into consideration when determining the price of a used ATV or deciding whether to purchase it. You should also make sure any modifications were installed correctly.

atv travel riding outfit waterproof

What are High Hours for an ATV?

Thinking strictly of ATV mileage range and hours, 500 or fewer hours is ideal. 5,000 and up is considered high miles for ATVs and UTVs.

But don’t just go for the vehicle with the fewest miles. Consider the age of the vehicle. If someone has owned an ATV and clearly rarely ridden it, it’s unlikely that it’s in great shape after spending that much time in storage. Alternatively, it could tip you off that they’re lying.

Follow this plan.

First, ask the owner to make sure not to have the engine running when you arrive and/or notice whether it’s running when you arrive. This is a common tactic to hide that an engine doesn’t want to start.

Next, ask the owner questions about their use of the vehicle, maintenance done on the vehicle, and storage. Consider whether they seem trustworthy.

Ask to inspect the ATV or UTV, and test drive the vehicle.

No reputable seller should mind you taking any of these steps.

Once you know the hours, mileage, and the way the machine’s been cared for, think of the price. If you have the money and the ATV with fewer miles and hours seems like it’s been well cared for, go ahead and pay what seems reasonable. But don’t necessarily rule out buying a high mileage four-wheeler or one that’s done a lot of hours. A properly cared for quality brand of ATV might still be a worthwhile purchase, if it fits those criteria and you don’t spend much on it. 

Consider how much is being asked and compare your budget and the likelihood of repairs or replacing it. You can get the best possible deal on a machine needs that some love by buying a salvage ATV. You can expect to probably need to invest in repairs and replacement in the future, but you won’t spend much on it so you can better afford the maintenance and repairs.

atv rider in water

Tips for ATV Maintenance to Prolong the Life of Your ATV

Routinely grease the ATV or UTV to protect it from water, dirt, mud, and more.

Clean the ATV or UTV regularly. This means you wash all mud, dirt, and bug parts off of the frame, clean the radiator, and maintain the filters.

Stick to maintenance schedules like your oil and coolant changes.

Make sure you adhere to proper storage procedures.

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