ATV/UTV Battery Guide: All You Need To Know.

ATV/UTV Battery Guide: All You Need To Know.

Every ATV/UTV aficionado out there knows that the battery is one of the most crucial components of these amazing off-road vehicles. Without the battery, you will have no place to go!


The humble ATV battery is essentially a massive power reserve, initially charged with the responsibility of supplying necessary juice to your vehicle’s starting motor which cranks it up the to life with a single push of the starter button. During this important activity, the battery equally shovels electrical energy towards your side-by-side’s ignition system.


Despite doing all this task, your off-road machine’s battery can’t afford to rest. Working in concert with your vehicle’s electrical system is an essential device known as an alternator. As you drive, this component supplies electricity to your car’s electric-powered accessories, including wipers, USB ports, and headlights among other things. In extreme cases, the alternator may not always be able to live up with the demands of your UTV’s electrical requirements.

Simply put, the charging system becomes overworked and needs to seek the help of the battery for an extra jolt of juice just to keep your side-by-side up and running. And if the vehicle is equipped with power-hoovering accessories as in the case of an off-road truck, the battery becomes a handy tool that allows your all-terrain vehicle to keep up with electrical demand.

The battery is an important component of your side-by-side truck and perhaps this is why regular battery checkups are necessary. And when your battery isn’t in tip-top condition, you are bound to experience a whole host of mechanical problems including engine failure among other potential issues.

If you have just bought your first utility task vehicle or an all-terrain beast and don’t know much about their batteries, we have got you covered. We are going to provide you with every bit of information you need to know. So, peruse the article and enhance your knowledge.

How long should a UTV/ATV battery last?

The average lifespan of a typical UTV/ATV battery is between three and five years, maybe more, on rare occasions. However, your battery’s lifespan will be dependent on several factors that may include:

  • Battery quality: The overall lifespan of your battery hugely depends on the type of the battery itself. In general, there are two categories of all-terrain vehicle batteries including conventional ATV/UTV batteries and AGM ATV batteries. Conventional ones are one of the most popular batteries currently used on most side-by-side vehicles out there. AGM batteries are thought to offer improved performance compared to their contemporary counterparts. However, they are relatively expensive.
  • Battery usage: This is another factor that will affect the longevity of your UTV batteries. If you use them more regularly, their life will ultimately be shortened significantly. On the other hand, if you rarely use them, you’ll probably extend their lifespan.
  • Temperature: If you didn’t know, the temperature is arguably the most important factor that adversely affects not only the battery’s performance, but its lifespan as well. If you usually use your battery in extreme temperature (very cold or very hot temps), it can decompose the acid as well as other vital internal components thereby damaging it. This, in turn, will eventually shorten its life. This is why it is highly recommended that your ATV battery should be stored at optimum temperature conditions.
  • Charger quality: If you are using a cheap, low-quality battery charger, just know that you are shortening the life of your battery. Always use an original charger, preferably the one that came with your battery when you first bought it.

How much is a battery for ATV?

new accumulator isolated on white background

There are numerous UTV/ATV batteries out there on the market. While you may be tempted to save a few dollars with a discounted 12-volt ATV battery, spending a little more will pay off in terms of quality and performance.

The cost will vary depending on the quality and type of the side-by-side battery you are purchasing. So, let us briefly review the types of ATV/UTV batteries available:

  • Conventional: Also referred to as flooded or wet battery, a conventional batter features removable filler caps that allow you to refill the plates with distilled water and bulk acid. This type of battery is fairly cheaper but are susceptible to spillage, and this makes them less suited for off-road applications. What’s more, conventional ATV batteries require routine maintenance and you must regularly check the water level just to ensure it doesn’t dry up.
  • Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM): This type of UTV battery is also known as a maintenance-free battery. It boasts fiberglass pads inserted between the negative and positive plates that absorb the electrolyte acid. These sealed UTV/ATV batteries are relatively more expensive. However, they aren’t prone to spillage. Regardless, they are durable, reliable and can be mounted in different positions. Generally, they are designed to be vibration and shock-proof, making them ideal for off-roading.
  • Gel Cell: These are strikingly similar to AGM batteries. They are pricier and feature a low self-discharge and can also be mounted in any position. What’s more, they aren’t susceptible to leaking. However, you’ll need to recharge them appropriately, or you risk damaging them prematurely.

In general, ATV battery pricing will range between $50 and $100. Of course, it is possible to find a decent-quality ATV battery under $50. However, it is imperative to note that a very cheap battery may not be able to serve you for an extended period.

A significant number of top-notch all-terrain vehicle batteries will cost you anything above $50. These batteries may vary slightly according to some features such as Amp Hour (AH) and Cranking Amps (CCA).

Generally, the more you’ll pay for an ATV battery, the greater it will be in terms of quality. Premium grade batteries not only guarantee unrivaled performance but are also likely to last fairly long.

Are ATV batteries 12 volts?

Yes, the majority of all-terrain vehicle batteries are 12 V. After all, this is the conventional voltage system that is used by many vehicles across America. However, this number, (12 V) is generalized. When fully charged, flooded ATV/UTV batteries have a voltage that ranges between 12.6 and 12.8 V. On the other hand, an AGM battery will have a voltage range of between 12.8 and 13.1 V.

How do I stop mWill ATV run with a dead battery?

Some ATVs will probably run without a battery. However, a majority of them won’t. Perhaps this is because every vehicle has an internal combustion engine that doesn’t need any electricity. However, even if your quad will operate without a battery this doesn’t imply that you should ride it that way.

When you start the engine, it will generate a voltage which will then be transferred to the regulator. And since there is no battery to transmit this voltage to, it will ultimately damage the electrical system.

It is imperative to note that ATVs are equipped with several mechanical and electrical components that function holistically to make the quad work optimally. The bulk of this electrical energy comes from the battery. The battery is involved in many engine processes.

Quite a lot of functions such as the cooling fans, starter, lights, power steering, heated grips, GPS, among other accessories require electricity to function. Simply put, the battery is an essential component that your ATV can’t operate without.

Can you charge an ATV battery?

Jumper cable for car battery

ATVs use what is referred to as a stator system or magneto system to charge their batteries. This is a robust, yet simple system located at the inside of the ATV’s engine system. So anytime the engine is running, the magneto is continuously generating an electric charge. Part of this electricity is used to power the vehicle’s different electrical features. The extra charge is used to charge the battery.

Unfortunately, the UTV/ATV’s internal charging system can’t always keep up with the rapid battery drain even from continuous use. This means that you’ll have to occasionally charge your ATV battery.

Why does my ATV battery keep dying?

You may be out enjoying yourself all day, and everything seems just fine. Then you park your ATV or UTV for the night, and to your surprise, the next morning, the battery is completely dead! You’ll occasionally experience a scenario when you have an ATV battery that keeps going dead.


There are numerous reasons why the battery might keep going dead including:

  • Damaged or old battery: With time, all batteries will eventually die and deteriorate in terms of functionality. Some may die sooner than others depending on the type of battery and perhaps how it’s used and maintained.
  • Low fluid levels in the battery: If the battery is of the lead-acid type, you are needed to occasionally check if the fluid levels are correct. This is a quick and straightforward task that you should do early on during your testing routine. When the electrolyte levels are very low, your battery will not function optimally, and it may either fail to take or hold a charge. However, it is worth noting that this problem only applies when your battery features removable covers over the battery cell-ports. Those that don’t have this feature are always labeled maintenance-free and only need to be replaced when they can’t work as expected.
  • A corroded or loose connection of the ground cable: A corroded, or bad connection will prevent your ATV’s charging system from topping off the battery as you ride and may even cause the battery to drain on its own. Simply removing any form of corrosion from your battery’s terminals as well as fastening any loose connections should be enough to fix this issue.
  • A sulfated battery: Sulfation refers to a natural by-product from the chemical process that goes on inside a lead-acid battery when it is discharging. For some reason, this chemical process will lead to a chemical buildup and hardening of the plates in the battery. When your battery is sulfated, it will not only lose its ability to maintain or hold a full charge, but it will also self-discharge quite faster than it should.
  • Damaged charging system: When this occurs, your ATV’s voltage regulator or stator isn’t functioning well. Under normal circumstances, your ATV’s stator should generate sufficient electrical energy to not only operate all of the electronic functions of your UTV/ATV, but there should equally be enough of a surplus to charge the battery as well. So, if your battery keeps dying more often than you expect, your vehicle’s charging system could be to blame.
  • Driving your ATV or UTV in extreme conditions: Generally, the performance of lead-acid batteries will deteriorate when driven in extreme temperatures. For instance, in freezing weather, the capacity will reduce by nearly 20%.

When should I replace my ATV batteries?

As mentioned previously, the average lifespan of ATV/UTV ranges between three and five years. However, this will depend on certain factors such as how regularly you ride your vehicle, the type of the battery as well as how well you maintain the battery.

With adequate care and maintenance, the battery can potentially last for as much as six years.This means that after using the battery for at least three years and it starts to misbehave, probably it will be time to replace it. Below are some tips that should help you determine whether you should replace the battery or not.

  • The battery isn’t charging at all: This is arguably the simplest way to tell if your battery needs to be replaced. If the battery is not charging, there could be a possibility that the charger is a bad one. You should try using another charger just to confirm the battery is completely out of shape.
  • Strange noises from your side-by-side’s engine could be another telltale sign that your battery needs immediate replacement.
  • The lights do not work, and your ATV does not start: This is the simplest way to tell if your battery needs replacing.

Of course, you may technically be able to do this, but it can be very dangerous doing so. It is highly recommended that you have someone else to help you to carry out the whole process.

How do I know if my battery is bad?

There are a few things that should help know whether you have a bad battery or not. Broken terminals, presence of bump or bulge in case, excessive leaking, a crack on the plastic casing as well as discoloration are a few signs and symptoms that should guide you toward replacing your battery.

However, the ultimate way to know if your battery is bad is to take a voltmeter reading using a multimeter. Follow the procedure below on how to take a voltage reading from the multimeter.

Set up the multimeter: If the multimeter is auto-ranging, just turn the dial to the V-setting. On the other hand, if it is not auto-ranging, ensure you are using the DC setting. Of course, you can always refer to your manual for assistance.

In most models, the attachments are usually color-coded. In this case, the black lead will go in the black port whereas the red lead will go in the red port. However, if they are not color-coded, just know that the black lead will always go in the port named COM. The red one always goes in the port labeled V.

Make contact with the test leads: Here, you’ll need to connect the black lead to the negative ground and connect the red lead to the positive ground. If you made good contact and the whole system has live wire, you should be able to get a reading.

Interpret the reading: If your meter is showing a negative reading, the chances are high that the leads crossed, so adjust them and try once again.


If your meter is showing anything less than 12 V, just charge it and take another reading. If the meter reads anything less than 12.4 V after charging, your battery is sulfated. If the batter has less than 12 V after charging, you likely have a damaged cell and it is time to replace the battery.

How do I bring my ATV battery back to life?

The truth is that there is no magic cure to rejuvenate a dead battery! However, there are a few tips that can probably help bring your ATV battery back to life, including:

  • Addition if distilled water: If your battery’s electrolyte level is low, adding an adequate amount of distilled water will fully submerge the plates and give your engine the much-needed power.
  • Epsom salt: Also referred to as magnesium sulfate, Epsom salt is a strong acid that when added to the electrolyte, can help tip the electrical balance and this, in turn, will potentially deliver enough charge to your ATV’s engine. Always put on your protective gear while handling the battery because the chemicals inside it are very toxic.
  • Jump-starting using another ATV: For this procedure, you need a separate ATV with a functioning battery and jumper cables. It is a very simple and straightforward procedure and you only need to make sure you are connecting the wires with the correct terminals.
  • Aspirin: Acetylsalicylic acid can also be used to chemically alter the electrolyte balance. Just crush and dissolve twelve aspirin tablets in about six ounces of warm water and add equal amounts to every cell. Add extra water to ensure the plates are completely submerged.

These are just a few tips that can help spring some life into your battery. However, the best way to solve this situation is by purchasing a new battery.

How do you test an ATV battery?

There are two types of tests that you can carry out on your 12-V battery including:

The static battery voltage test:

This test will help you determine if a little boost is needed to get the batteries to full function. Before you conduct this test, you should ensure that the battery hasn’t been recently charged. For accuracy, there should be at least a one-hour interval between the last time the battery was charged and the time you are doing the test.

Adjust the multimeter reading to a direct current of 20V. After that, place the multimeter leads on the battery terminals in the order of positive to positive and negative to negative. The following multimeter readings should then guide you accordingly:

  • When the multimeter reads 12.8 V, your battery shouldn’t be charged any further because it is full.
  • If it reads 12.6 V, the battery is about to attain a fully charged state.
  • A reading of 12.10 V would mean the battery is half full.
  • A reading of 8.0 and below means the battery is empty.

The starting load test:

This is done to determine whether the battery needs a replacement or not. When carrying out this test, just remove the seat and expose the batteries. Do not disconnect the batteries because you’ll need to start the vehicle.

Adjust the multimeter to a direct current of 20 V and connect the terminals accordingly, while the battery is still connected to your ATV’s engine. Now start your vehicle’s engine and closely watch the readings on your multimeter.

It is imperative to note that for a battery to pass a load test, the reading on the multimeter must be between 9.5 and 10.5 V straight for half a minute when the battery is tested. Anything below this would mean the battery needs to be replaced because of its low capacity.

How do you charge an ATV battery for the first time?

The first charge is usually the most important charge for lead-acid batteries. It takes lots of hours for the battery of a four-wheeler to fully charge. For best results, let it charge overnight or till the battery lets know it is fully charged. There are many standalone battery chargers out there and regardless of the type you’ll be using, follow the below procedures:

  • Plugin the battery charger to the electrical outlet.
  • Connect the positive (red) terminal cable of your charger to the positive terminal of the ATV battery.
  • Connect the negative (black) terminal cable of the charger to the negative terminal of the ATV battery.
  • Wait for the charger to let you know that it is charging.
  • If you are using a multipurpose charger, always select the correct setting because you don’t want to run excess current through it.
  • After the recommended number of hours have elapsed and your battery is fully charged, make sure you disconnect the negative cable first!

How often should you charge your ATV battery?

First and foremost, it is important to note that ATV batteries should never be left without charging. If these types of batteries aren’t used for longer periods, the process of sulfation will occur on the battery plates and this will significantly impact their performance and lifespan.

You should consider having a trickle charger or a smart charger that is designed to constantly monitor your ATV’s battery to ensure it is always in tip-top condition. These smart chargers will always hold the battery voltage at its prime while reducing the current to almost zero, effectively preventing overcharge incidences even when left on for months.

Do ATV batteries need water?

Not all ATV batteries will need water. As opposed to AGM batteries, conventional ATV batteries contain a liquid known as an electrolyte. This liquid is a mixture of water and sulfuric acid. The plates in a lead-acid battery contain a highly active material that should be constantly submerged in electrolytes while hydrogen and oxygen gasses are released during charging. So, before you charge the battery of your four-wheeler, always make sure it has sufficient water to cover any exposed plates.

It’s worth noting that you should never add sulfuric acid to the battery! When operating normally, batteries will only consume water but not sulfuric acid. And when your battery’s electrolyte level is presumed to be low, filling the battery with an adequate amount of water will enhance its performance, keep it healthy and make it safe for use.

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