What Is The Best Fuel For ATV? We Go Though The Choices

In ATV Setups by Kevin

What Is The Best Fuel For ATV?

I was wondering the same question when I filled up my ATV for the umpteenth time with the same fuel I have always bought it for the last 6 months. I didn’t really care back then. I just went to the gas station and got 2 gallons, bought it back in a pink container. I then took out the gas cap without looking at what it said and I filled the thing up. I then turned on the engine went into my business.

There are some folks which are completely clueless as what type of fuel do ATVs use. thankfully I have done some research. my neighbor thought that the ATV that I was trying to sell them was electrically powered (which it was, but for powering lights and other stuff) but the reality is that most quads have normal engines that use regular gas.

Most ATVs can use regular 87 octane gasoline. now, depending on the model that you are, it might be wise to use the pricier 89 or 91 octane fuel. if you have the manual of the machine, it should tell you what kind of gasoline it’s best to put on it. on some quads, premium is recommended, but not mandatory.

This means that putting 91 or 93 octane will result in increased performance and a smoother engine, but if you want to save some bucks you can always go for regular as well. there are some quads which are premium only, like my Polaris Sportsman. putting regular gas on it will damage the engine so if you have a similar model don’t cheap out and get the good stuff!

So it will depend a lot on your particular quad whether which fuel is best for it. there are also some other things to keep in mind when it comes to choosing the best fuel: is the quad a 2 stroke or a 4 stroke? are you using fuel additives? is the ATV a sports model or is it utility based? so let me tell you some of the most important things to keep in mind.

Why is it important to use the best fuel?

I personally use 93 octane on my Raptor

Before telling you about the importance of using the correct gas, let me tell you what octane rating is since everyone is quite confused about this. octane rating or octane number is simply how much compression the fuel withstand without igniting.

So the higher octane rating the more compression will the gas withstand. it seems that lighting up the gas by method of compression damages the gasoline engines, and that’s actually one of the reasons why choosing the correct gas for your quad is so important:

Your ATV has a specific compression ratio and putting the wrong gas will cause “knocks” on the engine.

Another big con of using inadequate fuel is reduced performance. a while ago my friend was complaining that his quad was very erratic and that sometimes it would have an uneven power delivery, it would emit white smoke once in a while and also the infamous “knocks”. so he took the Can-Am to a repair shop to see what was going on and the mechanic checked it out for weeks and nothing was wrong.

only after asking for the type of fuel that he put on the quad did we notice what was going on: he was putting 87 on a quad that requires at least 91 to work! thankfully he didn’t break anything and as soon as he put some 91 octane on it it was working well again!

Reduced fuel economy is another bad thing about using the wrong fuel. for some quads it can be dramatic. since lower octane burns easier it’s pretty obvious how it can affect fuel economy. so putting 87 because you want to save some bucks can backfire on you because you are going to spend the gas faster than normal.


Some folks like using a fuel additive if they have to use lower octane fuel. even though I do not use them, I made some research on the internet and it seems that yes, they can protect your engine from several ailments including damage from using the wrong fuel.

They are also real cheap at about 5$ at the nearest gas station and the bottle lasts for a while since the ATV gas tank is much smaller than a car. so if you really need to use regular on a quad that uses premium, try putting some additive on it! maybe it might reduce the knocks or increase fuel economy.

Using the additive also has the added bonus of cleaning the ATV engine all over and it also acts as a fuel stabilizer so that if you don’t use the ATV for a while it will keep the fuel inside stable until you use it again.

There are some modern ATVs that have ECUs which is the car computer. if it’s a well-known ATV model there might be some ways to hack the computer and change the type of fuel the quad needs! that way you can use the cheaper and more widely available 87 without hurting the engine.

So I would recommend going on ATV forums and checking if there’s an ECU tune so that you can change the preferred gas source. I have a performance-based ECU tune for my old Honda which I use primarily for performance, but the tune also has the option of changing which fuel you want to use in the quad! they can be a bit pricey but they are completely worth it in my opinion.

2 Strokes: is there a preferred octane rating that works best?

Generally, 2 strokes are a bit more complex affair when it comes to quads. more powerful than 4 strokes, these quads require you to mix the oil and the gasoline together. however, they aren’t a special snowflake. just like the other quads, I recommend reading the manual to check if there’s any special regimen with these quads.

but usually, it’s strongly recommended to put premium on these because they run at a higher compression rate. so you will probably screw the engine with anything lower than a 91 octane.

Is E85 going to hurt my ATV?

This is another popular question that people keep asking. thankfully, I have seen a lot of people using this set up with the E85, and I have used it myself too so I have some experience. is using E85 gonna destroy your engine as soon as you turn on the quad? No.

Now, is there anything that can go wrong with using e85? maybe, it depends on the engine in question. some engines are quite bulletproof and can run even on whiskey (just kidding haha) and some are really fine and only take premium fuel.

Generally, I wouldn’t recommend going the e85 route for a newer quad but for older models with carbs, sure go ahead. the ethanol burn is quite cooler and smoother which does a better job in protecting the engine insides. it’s also the environmentally friendly option for people that are concerned about that


When it comes to most 4 stroke models (which are 95% of quads in existence) you can use 87 octane gas. however, it varies on the quad we are talking about. it’s important to check the manual or online forums to check out the exact engine specifications so that you don’t make a mistake.

if you have a quad that requires premium, putting 87 on it might reduce the performance, the fuel economy and might even damage the engine! So i would recommend you to spend a bit on 91 if necessary, or else you will be sorry!

The fuel choice is mainly determined by the compression ratio of the engine. the higher the compression rating the higher octane gas it will need. igniting the gas with only compression might damage the engine so that’s one of the other reasons it’s important to choose the correct gas for your quad.

2 Stroke engines usually require a premix of gas and oil. these engines generally require premium because they have high compression rates. you can check if your particular quad is a 2 stroke by checking the tags, the manual, or going online to check.

If you really need to use 87 octane on an ATV that requires premium, try using a fuel additive. not only will you save gas, you will also protect the engine from some damage that the fuel can make to the engine, it’s also worth it because it’s usually no more than 10-15$ dollars a bottle, so if it doesn’t work you are only down a few bucks.

And to finish, no E85 generally won’t damage the engine unless you are using something that’s really fragile. using e85 is also generally cheaper and better for the environment.