Buying an ATV or UTV is a big investment and can be a pretty scary endeavor. Whether you don’t want to break the bank on your first ATV or don’t want to have to buy a new one for everyone in your family, buying a used ATV or UTV can be a great option. I know I was deterred from buying an ATV for a long time because I was only looking at the sticker prices on the ATVs at Bass Pro Shop.
You can save quite a bit of money buying a used ATV, but don’t expect the same discounts you might find buying a used car. This is true even more so for used UTVs because they just don’t depreciate much. The price of a brand new ATV or UTV will likely depreciate $500 or so right when it’s purchased, but the depreciation will go much more slowly after that.
Other than that relatively small initial depreciation, though, the price stays about the same for a few years before starting a slow depreciation. There are plenty of people willing buy a 2-5 year old UTV for $1,000 cheaper than the brand new price. Luckily, there is a reason ATVs and UTVs don’t depreciate like cars: They don’t wear down as quickly. I drive a 2009 car that is on its last leg, but a 2009 ATV is likely still running like a champ if it had even a reasonably responsible owner.
So, really, if you want to save some money on an ATV or UTV, the most important thing is to just be really patient. You can find some killer deals if you spend several months (especially in the off-season) scouring Craigslist, ATVtrader.com, ATV Classifieds, your local marketplaces and Facebook marketplace searching for the model you’re looking for, you’ll probably find someone that just wants to get rid of their ATV and is willing to take a low price.
How to Search for a used ATV or UTV
When you are searching for used ATVs or UTVs on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or any of the other places we are going to discuss, you’ll miss out on at least half of the available machines if you just search “ATV.” Some people forget to include that keyword when they make their listing or they call it something else. An ATV could be called a quad or four wheeler and a UTV could be called a side-by-side among other things.
That’s the easy part, but even searching for “ATV,” “Four Wheeler” and “Quad” will leave a lot of options that you miss, and the key to finding a great deal is finding those options that a lot of people don’t see. If you want to bring up a ton more options, look for actual model names as many people list the make and model, but forget to mention the broader terms. Some of the key terms you should use are listed below, but there are countless others.
- Honda: Foreman, TRX, Recon, Pioneer, Rubicon, FourTrax, Rancher
- Yamaha: Grizzly, Kodiak, Raptor, YFZ, YXZ, Viking
- Polaris: Scrambler, Sportsman, RZR, Ranger, General
- Suzuki: Vinson, Kingquad
- Kawasaki: Prairie, Brute Force, Mule, Teryx4
- Can-Am: Renegade, Outlander, Maverick, Commander
- Arctic Cat: Wildcat
- Textron: Alterra
- John Deere: Gator
Where to Look for a used ATV or UTV
Facebook Marketplace – You can get to the Facebook Marketplace through an app on your phone or through your computer. As Facebook Marketplace is becoming more popular, I’m starting to see more ATVs and UTVs listed there that aren’t also listed on Craigslist. The nice thing about the marketplace is that there aren’t as many scammers and spammers, but that is quickly changing.
One tip for finding good deals on Facebook marketplace is to set up a series of alerts. Just do a search and then toggle the switch to be notified when something matching that search gets posted. This is an easy way to seach for all the different terms we discussed above wihtout having to repeat dozens of searched over and over again. If you set up all of these notifications, you’ll be the first to know when something is put up. This is key to getting a good deal because you will see right away when someone not knowing what they are doing dramatically undervalues their ATV. If you can message them right away and run over and buy it, you can get a great deal before too many people jump on it and drive the price up.
Craigslist – This is probably the most obvious place to check for used ATVs. You’ll have to dig through spam and probably won’t be the first eyes on it. I won’t bore you with details of how to use the site,as I assume you already know or can figure it out, but ther is one key piece of advice few people know about.
If you download the app called CPlus for Craigslist, you get some powerful features that the normal Craigslist website doesn’t offer. In addition to being able to filter the searches with greater precision, you can also set up notifications of your saved searches similar to what we mentioned on Facebook Marketplace. With this, you can get notified any time a new ATV is posted and be the first to call on it. As we mentioned before, this is really helpful to find underpriced ATVs because you’ll be the first to find the deal, and you don’t have to sit there refreshing Craigslist all day.
eBay Motors – eBay Motors is unlikely to have many ATVs available for local pickup, but if you’re looking for something specific and customized, then eBay Motors is a good option becuase they have lots of stuff.
ATV Classifieds – The website “ATV Classifieds” doesn’t directly sell ATVs. Instead, it acts as an online marketplace for buyers and sellers to meet and interact. This website also allows you to narrow down your search to sellers in your particular state so you don’t get stuck with tons of options you aren’t interested in.
Atvtrader – ATVtrader.com is an awesome site because you can really narrow down your search by what you are looking for and where you are looking. The downside is most of the results are going to be dealers so you are not going to find the best deal, but if you prefer to buy from a dealer, then I highly recommend looking at this source.
Local ATV Club – If you have a local ATV club, this can be a great resource to reach out to. Club members may have the inside scoop on ATV sales in your area. They can also provide additional information on what the value of a given vehicle really is.
Local Classifieds – Your local classifieds are also a great place to look. Most places have some kind of local classifieds online where you can look. There is probably going to be a lot of overlap with Craigslist here, but it is a good place to find deals because there won’t be as many eyes on it.
Tips for Getting a Good Deal on an ATV
There are so many books out there about negotiating that I could do many articles just on this topic. For purposes of this article, here are just a few of my favorite tips.
- Print out the Kelley Blue Book price for the used ATVs before you go to look at the ATV. In the markets I have lived, the Blue Book price is usually significantly lower than the listed prices. That way, if you decide to buy, you can show the seller the Blue Book price and ask for a discount putting the price closer to the KBB price. Simply asking for a discount doesn’t work nearly as well as giving a REASON for requesting a discount.
- Have cash ready to go. Withdraw some money from your bank when you are going to be shopping for an ATV. Because the ATV will often cost more than you can withdraw from an ATM in a single day, you need to prepare ahead of time. If the bank isn’t open, you won’t be able to buy. When you are discussing price via text or email before going to pick it up, it is a great tactic to say something like “I have $3,000 cash (or whatever the price is) that I want to spend on an ATV today. I know that’s lower than what you’re asking, but that’s the cash I have right now. Is that in the ballpark of something you’d accept to get the deal done today?”
- You’re much more likely to find a good deal on a used ATV from a private individual than from a dealer. However, if you are buying from a dealer, you need to create leverage. Visit several dealers to look at ATVs and pick all the ATVs you like. Then go into the other dealers and say something along the lines of, “I’m going to buy this 2016 Rancher for $4,500 from ATV Dealer A today, but I wanted to stop by here first to see if you can beat that deal.” This way you have the leverage. The store knows they’ll need to come up with a great deal to convince you to buy. Also, don’t be afraid to call dealerships a bit of drive away from you if you can get a much better deal to reference because you can say you are willing to go pick it up. One thing to be careful of in this situation is to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. A lot of shops advertise a really cheap base price, but later nail you with a bunch of hidden fees. You really need to know ahead of time your true out the door price before you try to tell the dealer of a better deal somewhere else.
- A friend of mine has a favorite negotiating technique, which is to let the seller say their price, and then find a reason why the price is too high. It may be dinged up, be the wrong color, not quite the model you wanted, whatever. Then say, “That’s a lot of money, and [enter your reason, such as ‘this has some scratches and isn’t really a color I love’]. How am I supposed to pay that much?” My friends swears he has gotten great deals with this method.
- Be patient. If you want an ATV RIGHT NOW, you only have the ATV inventory available RIGHT NOW. There might not be a good deal on the market right now. Instead, be willing to wait for the good deal.
- Get free Gear. Whether you are buying from a dealer or a private party, its isn’t hard to get free gear. Especially for a new rider, this saves you a lot of money. Even if you don’t need the gear though, you can sell it to offset some of the money you just spent on the ATV. Dealers will almost always throw in a helmet unless you negotiated so well that they really aren’t making any money on it. With private parties, you might be able to get things like original tires and wheels if they put aftermarket ones on. Some other things that are worth asking about include ramps, winches, racks, storage or goggles. If you need more idea what gear to go for, look at our Recommended Gear in the menu.
- If you are buying from a dealer, try going to a watercraft dealer. Dealerships located closer to lakes or water that also sell ATVs make more of their money from boats than ATVs might be selling ATVs for additional revenue. These dealerships might have models that have been there way too long, and they want to get rid of it. This is often where you find great deals from dealers.
- Buy an ATV in the off season. The ATV season ends in most places when the snow flies. People are more likely to sell in the middle of winter if they run into financial problems because they aren’t using the ATV. The problem for the seller is buyers are sparse in the off season and the prices come down. That’s great for the buyer.
- Find the ATVs others are passing up. The key to getting a good deal is to find an ATV where you don’t have competition. If you are the only person calling on the ATV, the seller is much more likely to take a lower offer. There are a few keys to finding these ATVs. Look for ATVs that aren’t advertised well. These are the ads others are likely to look past because the pictures are too dark, the ATV is dirty, the description is lacking or there is no asking price. Another key to look for is when the seller is out of town a bit. If the seller lives on a ranch 30 miles out of town, most buyers won’t want to drive out there to look at it. You may end up wasting an hour, but it may be a great time investment if its a good machine you can get for cheap because nobody else is willing to drive.
Get a Deal that Saves Money
Tip #1: Never buy an atv with a loan. I know it’s really tempting to just get a small loan so you can get the perfect ATV of your dreams. It sounds great, but it means you’ll be paying way more for the same ATV. Getting a loan also means you may be limited to purchasing a much more expensive new ATV as most banks will not offer financing on used units, and the ones that do give loans on an used ATVs charge crazy high interest rates.
Suppose you want to buy a fully loaded Polaris Sportsman Touring XP 1000. That will set you back $15,000. You decide to get a small loan with just 5.2% interest over 7 years. How much did you pay for your $15,000 ATV in the end? Over $18,000! You just completely wasted over $3,000 because you weren’t patient. If you do the same thing with your car, a home, a TV, and whatever else you buy, you’re paying 20-50% too much for every purchase in your life.
Tip #2: Avoid a “4-Square” Contract. What is a 4-square contract? This is what car salesmen use to screw you. It’s basically a sneaky way to find out what a buyer has available as a down payment and how much they are willing to pay for a payment each month. With this info they try to get you close to your desired payment by tweaking financing so much that you end up paying way too much for the ATV in the long run. Basically, the reason a lot of dealers break out a 4-square piece of paper is because it allows them an easy way to disguise a lot of hidden fees. Every time I have purchased a new car, they only want me tell them what I want my monthly payment to be. I always upset them by saying I don’t care about the monthly fee, I want to pay $X total. It ruins all their fun.
Tip #3: Buy private party if you want to find the best prices. It’s extremely unlikely that you’ll find an ATV dealer that will make a mistake on pricing. They are professionals and know the going rates better than you do. If you get one really cheap, it probably means they knew something about the ATV that you don’t notice.
There is nothing wrong with buying from a retailer. They may give you discounts on gear, help you with service, or provide a warranty. However, if you want to get a crazy good deal on an ATV, you’re unlikely to find it at a dealer. Shop private party.
Tip #4: Don’t be brand loyal. The truth is that there isn’t a whole lot of difference between ATVs of different brands (go ahead and leave me angry comments about why brand X is the best). Unless you’re an extremely talented world-class rider, tiny differences in the way that each brand’s ATV is made will not give you an edge at the race track. Your skill is far more important.
Don’t decide that “you’re a Honda Guy” or a Polaris guy, or a Suzuki guy, or whatever else. If you do, it will mean that there are far fewer deals on ATVs available to you. Embrace the benefits of each of the different brands and be willing to try something different than what you’re used to. You’re looking for a DEAL, not a brand. If you end up hating the ATV, you can rest assured that you bought it at a great price and you can sell it for as much or more than what you bought it for, and then hunt for the next ATV.
Tip #4: Don’t get scammed. The scary part about buying on Craig’s List these days is there are plenty of scammers out there. If you use common sense, you should be okay. Don’t wire money, give access to your account or do anything that seems shady. The other big concern is potentially buying a stolen ATV. Luckily, we have a huge article with everything you need to know on how to avoid buying a stolen ATV.