5 Things You Need to Know About Buying an ATV or SxS

Derrek Sigler
by Derrek Sigler

Knowing what you’re getting into before you sign the dotted line can make owning an ATV more enjoyable

There are a lot of really good reasons to buy an ATV or a Side-by-Side (SxS) and you will enjoy owning one. Whether you’re buying a Utility model for doing chores, a Recreational model for finding adventure, or a Sport machine for amping up the thrills in your life, owning an ATV or SxS is a great way to get the most from your time outside. There are, however, a few things you need to know before you plunk down your hard-earned cash, and having this information can save you trouble as well as helping you with the enjoyment of your new machine. Here are five things you need to know about buying an ATV or a SxS.

ATV.com thanks Yamaha for sponsoring this New Rider series.

What You Want

It would seem like an easy thing to know - What type of ATV or SxS do you want to buy? This is a question that can be a bit tricky. It all centers around being completely honest with yourself when it comes to what you really want. Sport machines that go fast look really cool and sound great, but is that what you really want? Is that trail machine going to meet your need for speed? Can you get things done around your property like you want? There are some really great machines out there that can handle a wide range of activities. For example, the Yamaha Wolverine RMAX 1000 can conquer most any terrain, move right along at a pretty fast pace and still find ways to help you get some jobs done around your property. But not every machine can do that, so have a reasonable conversation with yourself about what you really want your new ATV or SxS to do before you buy.


We might as well start out with the 500-pound gorilla in the room - how much does it cost to buy an ATV or a SxS, really? We can all rather easily find out the price of a machine. Not only do the dealerships, or sellers list the price for you, the manufacturers all list the MSRP for each machine on their websites. Knowing how much a machine will cost is the easy part. It’s the rest of it that you really need to know before you go buying one. Unless you’ve been saving your pennies, most likely you will be looking at financing a machine. This is not a big deal and is fairly common. Just keep in mind that ATV and SxS interest rates are not going to usually be the same as those for a car or truck, as banks see them as toys, for the most part, and on par with campers and boats. The rates and terms can be different depending upon where you go. That can change the costs. Then there is insurance, which is often very different from car insurance, too. Also factor in the cost of maintenance, like regular oil changes. Take everything into account when it comes to cost before you buy and you’ll find ownership to be more enjoyable.

Warranties, if Applicable

If you’re buying a new ATV or SxS, you will want to know what exactly is covered by any warranty before you buy it. For the most part, machines today are outstanding from a quality standpoint, but sometimes a warranty is needed. If nothing else, it gives you a lot of peace of mind. Each manufacturer has a different warranty, and your dealership can explain how it works. Some companies have very specific warranties on specific parts, like Yamaha’s 10-year warranty on belts. This is a legitimate warranty, but should also give you an idea about how much faith they have in their products. If you’re buying a used machine, you should see if there is any transferable warranty that applies, too.

The Laws

Each state and province has its own laws pertaining to ORV usage on public lands. For example, some states require registration, or permits to be used on any public lands. Helmet use can be a regulation, although we always recommend wearing one whenever you use an ATV or SxS. There can also be restrictions on where and when a machine can be used. Before you buy an ATV or SxS, it is a good idea to know the laws so you can avoid any surprises, especially costly ones.

Maintenance and Dealer Support

If you’re buying a new machine from a dealership, it’s not a bad idea to talk to them beforehand to see about services and maintenance for the machine. For the mechanically-inclined, much of the maintenance can be DIY, but if you prefer to have it done by a professional, you should inquire about timing. Some dealerships have longer wait periods for service work, so you should plan ahead.

If you’re buying a used machine from a private seller, make sure there is a dealership close enough to handle any service or support you may need. This is one of those times, too, when you’d want to see any and all service records a seller might have.

If there are multiple dealerships for a machine you’ve decided to buy, do your research on the dealership, too. Yelp! reviews and social media groups can be a big help in deciding which dealership is right for you. There is also a lot to be said for simply walking into one and seeing how you feel about the place. Do the sales people treat you with respect? Does the parts department have what you are looking for? There’s a lot to be said for simply seeing how things look first hand.

Check out the New Riders Hub for more articles geared towards new off-road enthusiasts.

Derrek Sigler
Derrek Sigler

Derrek's love for all things ATV started when he was a mere 11 years old, growing up on his family farm. His mom gave him and his sister a choice - get a horse, or a three-wheeler. The sister wanted the horse, and Derrek wanted the ATV. Luckily he won out, and was soon burning up the trails on a Yamaha Tri-Moto 200. By the time he was 14, he had saved enough of his own money by working on the farm and in his folks restaurant to buy a new 4-wheeler. That happened the day he and his mom were driving past the dealership and saw 1987 Banshee. His mom had no idea what he was buying, and he never looked back. He's been riding ever since, and been writing professionally for many years. He has ridden all over North America and been behind the controls of just about every machine out there. And yes, he still has his 1987 Yamaha Banshee.

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