There will come a time in your ATV ownership life that you will really want to take a look at something under the hood, or rather under the machine. It may be because something is leaking or you went on a run on a particularly dirty run and need to make sure that your machine is still ready to run. When this happens it is best to take a look with the comfort of a little more height than at the floor level. When this is you, know that you have a few choices when it comes to jacking up an ATV.
How do you jack up or lift an ATV? The best and safest way to lift or jack up an ATV is to use a car jack with an additional jack or stand, or by using an ATV jack or using a a lift table. Each of these have their own advantages and disadvantages, but all should provide a safe and secure way to work on your ATV.
As I was scouring the internet and talking with fellow riders for all the best possible solutions for jacking up an ATV, I realized one thing: there are a lot of really bad ideas out there. If you are looking for the best way to get underneath your ATV, please remember that you are trying to get under a machine that weighs hundreds of pounds and could do serious damage if something were to go wrong. Safety is the number one thing you want to consider anytime you talk about putting your ATV or yourself in a precarious situation. There are a few ways to make sure that you are protecting yourself and your machine.
Firstly, recognize how much security you will need for the job you are doing. If you are looking at the tires or want a little extra clearance to check the body of the vehicle you may not need to have the ATV as secure as you will need to have an ATV that you are planning to get under to install a skid pad. It is important to keep in mind that even if you are just inspecting the tires, you will still want to secure your machine safely because it can still slip and fall on you.
Secondly, regardless of your motivations, do not rest your entire ATV on a single point. If you are jacking up your ATV, you want to make sure that it is secured with more than one place. This may mean putting cinder blocks underneath the tires or using more than one jack on the frame, even though both of those do not guarantee that you will be safe because ATV’s can slip from cinder blocks and two jacks can fail. Check the security of your ATV by giving it a little shake. If the ATV is super wobbly, it is probably best to think of another way to secure it before doing any additional work.
The Best Ways to Jack up Your ATV
When jacking up your ATV, there are a lot of ways to get the job done, but these ways are what we recommend as the safest.
Using a Basic Car Jack
Most people have a car jack on hand, whether or not they realize it. This makes it a really easy way to lift your ATV up to 18 inches off the ground and get a better look. If you decide to use a car jack you will want to place it on either the front or rear part of the frame. Making sure it is lined up with the frame will help prevent any damage to the undercarriage of your ATV. When it is all lined up, you can manually begin to jack up the ATV.
The biggest con of using an car jack is that these are one of the least secure ways to get your ATV off the ground. Using a car jack only provides a single point of security for your entire ATV. This increases the potential of it failing substantially. If you are working on a tire that may need some pushing or pulling to coax into coming off, you can easily put too much pressure on the jack one way or another, which can topple the ATV on top of you or cause damage to the machine. This is when using a second jack on the same frame or possibly putting the tires on cinder blocks can add a little extra security and help you feel better about how safe you and your ATV are.
Using an ATV Jack
If you find yourself wanting to get into the nitty gritty of your ATV more and more, then it may be a good time to consider purchasing an ATV jack. There are several different types of ATV jacks that are specifically designed to safely and securely lift an ATV (this is our favorite). These jacks are usually designed to work for multiple types of vehicles and will serve a dual purpose as an atv/motorcycle, ATV/watercraft, or ATV/Lawnmower jack. It will really depend on what type of lift you are hoping to achieve for you to really know which jack you will want to invest in.
The two most common jacks are the ATV/motorcycle and the ATV/lawn mower. The big difference is where the ATV is lifted from and where it will give you the most access to. The ATV/motorcycle jack lifts from the center of the ATV which means that all four tires will be elevated at the same time. An ATV/lawn mower jack lifts the ATV from tires. This means that either the front or back tires will be elevated while leaving the other tires on the ground. Obviously, this is great if you are hoping to have access to the undercarriage, but it wouldn’t be great if you are planning to work a lot with the tires.
When looking at these types of jacks, you want to make sure they are rated to carry 1.5x the weight of your ATV to make sure that there is very little chance of it failing. If your ATV is 800 pounds, a jack rated to carry 1000 pounds leaves too little buffer for failure. Most likely it would work fine, but when the cost difference between the different jacks is so little, it is always wise to be safer. If you are a casual rider, then you should be able to invest $100-$200 dollars and purchase an ATV jack that will do everything you need it to do. If you are looking for more bells and whistles, such as an electric lifting device, you will expect to pay a bit more. One feature you want to make sure your lift has is a way to strap your ATV to the jack, securing it in case something did happen. Our personal favorite is a really good hydraulic jack that comes with an affordable price tag. See the current price on Amazon here.
When using these jacks, you will really need to follow the instructions provided in the manual as to how they are lifted properly, but I will provide a basic overview on what to expect. Typically, with an ATV/Motorcycle jack, you will position the jack at the side of the ATV and slide it completely under the ATV. There will be two smaller “feet” or one large plate that will extend to both sides of the frame. From there, you will begin lifting the ATV, either manually or with an air compressor. This is also a great way to store your ATV if you are trying to save the suspension on your ATV during the times you are not riding it. As mentioned above, our favorite ATV jack fits this class, and is a really great value.
An ATV/lawn mower jack will be positioned at either the front or rear of the ATV with the two feet on the ground in front of the wheels. You will then roll the ATV on the space provided on the feet. Once the wheels are fully on (or in) the feet, you will lift the ATV until it is the height you need. This is a great way to get a good look at what is happening underneath your ATV or to do some cleaning after a particularly muddy ride. If you are going to go this route, we recommend getting the highest capacity you can find, like this lift that can do 550 pounds.
Using a Lift Table
Using a lift table is really only for those who are getting serious about taking care of their ATV. A lift table is a large plate in which the ATV basically sits on an elevated floor. These are not necessarily cost effect for the casual rider, but they can be very convenient for those people who are invested in consistently improving, upgrading and taking care of their ATV. A lift table is used by rolling the ATV onto the lift plate and then raising it into the air. For the best combination of quality and value, we recommend this lift table, which will work for all but the biggest ATVS. For those riding bigger quads, you will need something like this lift table.
Using Ratchet Straps
Have you ever strapped something down on a truck using the straps that you ratchet to tighten and provide a secure load? Since you have an ATV, my guess is that yes, you have. One lifting idea I found while scouring the web was using these straps to lift your ATV. It is not something we have ever tried, but it was quite intriguing. The creator of this idea added hooks to the ceiling of his garage, looped the straps through the hooks and then used one strap on the front of the frame and a second strap on the back of the ATV frame. He then ratcheted the straps until the ATV was about 24 inches off the ground hanging from the ceiling. This allowed him access to the full undercarriage and tires of the ATV all at the same time.
I thought this idea was so ingenious I had to share it. I would not recommend trying this method haphazardly because it could end up causing damage to your ATV and garage if you do it incorrectly. Firstly, if the hooks you install in your ceiling are not properly weighted to carry the weight of an ATV or if the beam you put the hooks into is not able to carry the weight of a nearly 1000 pound machine. Finally, you need to be absolutely sure that the straps are properly secured on your ATV so that you are not at risk of having it fall. This is a lot of risk but for such an affordable, convenient and accessible way of lifting your ATV, I had to include it. If this method seems to add the most useful way of working on your ATV, it is worth examining the way to do it safely and securely in your home.
Lifting your ATV can be a little intimidating until you have tried it. Regardless of what method you decide to use, you will want to make sure safety for you and safety for your ATV are always your first priorities. When you are trying to save a little money by doing the repairs, maintenance or cleaning on your own, risking a costly accident to the ATV or yourself just isn’t worth it. Let us know what other lifting methods have worked for you!