Which ATV Manufacturer Is The Most Reliable?

In ATV Setups by Kevin

Which ATV Manufacturer Is The Most Reliable?

When I first started riding ATVs, getting something that was going to last a long time was important. ATVs were pretty expensive back then and they still are now, so every time that I was going to buy a brand new quad, reliability, and dependability were major characteristics that I was looking for. so I was able to familiarize myself with several ATV manufacturers and learned about which ones are better for trail riding, value, style, and of course, reliability. also, like I usually do, I consulted with ATV enthusiasts and ATV forums to really know which ATV manufacturer is the most reliable.

The ATV Manufacturer with the best reliability is Honda. Honda has always had a reputation for quality products which comes from the automotive world. their Civics and CR-Vs are quite durable and reliable, often running for years until they finally die. the same thing is true with their ATVs. their quads are well known for being able to withstand a lot of abuse and neglect. and because of their ability to absorb punishment, they also have great resale value! other ATV manufacturers that are well known for their reliability include Yamaha and Polaris.

But most ATVs made by most manufacturers will endure a good amount of wear and tear and rough use, as long as you perform regular maintenance of your quad. maintenance is very important in order to make sure that your quad stays working properly. it doesn’t matter if you have the most reliable ATV in the world. if you do not do the maintenance once in a while, the quad is going to fail you eventually. I talked about ATV maintenance in more detail in this article. there are a few ATV manufacturers that sadly suffer a worse reputation, especially when talking about reliability. most Chinese manufacturers can be grouped into this category.

So which Quad has the best reliability?

Like I said in the introduction, Honda makes the most durable quads. that’s why I often recommend them to beginners that do not really know much about the technical aspects. their quads are usually a bit rough and spartan, but easy to use. anyways, it seems that Honda brought the automotive quality control that they already had going on their cars, and applied them to their ATVs. it also helped that their quads are a bit cheaper than other brands. many a clueless family making their first purchase started with ATVs purchasing a Honda, and it was a good idea for most.

Now, even though Honda is #1, there are other brands that are no slouch when it comes to reliability. while their quads reliability is a bit more spotty, Yamaha has always had a reputation for solid, powerful quads with good dependability. they helped improve the foreign brand image back in the 80s and 90s and while I think that their reliability has suffered in the last few years (only because of extra electrical components all quads seem to be adding these days), they are still a solid option for those looking for reliability and longevity, especially when it comes to 700cc and up engines.

There’s also a brand that has always been very popular over the years. this brand is called Polaris and if you are looking for reliability but don’t like Hondas or Yamahas, this is the brand for you. while these quads are a little bit more complex when it comes to internal components, they more than make up for it with sheer availability of parts. so that means that while Polaris quads might break down a little bit more often than a Honda or a Yamaha, parts are plentiful, cheap, and usually when it gets broken its an easy fix most of the time. Polaris quads also have the added benefit of generally having more features than most quads.

Which factors affect reliability?

I’m honestly no quad mechanic but I have spoken to a lot of knowledgeable people and I have got some insights over the factors that affect reliability. some are pretty obvious and some not so much, but in general I think that I have a good idea on dependability factors:

  • Engine Understressing: I couldn’t find another word for this but what I mean is that not using the engine for it’s 100% of what it’s capable for. manufacturers like Honda are notorious for undertuning their engines so that they might lose a little bit of power but the integrity of the engine is maintained over the long term. some may or may not like this but it’s a proven way to increase the reliability of the quad, or at least the engine.
  • Overengineering: this means making a part much tougher than necessary so that the part withstands more abuse over the long term. some quad manufacturers purposely do this on some specific parts such as the suspension parts and some moving components on the engine itself, but there are a few manufacturers that like making parts tougher than normal all over the quad. this costs more but over the long term, the quads become much more sturdy.
  • Owner: the last thing doesn’t have that much to do with the brand but it’s important to mention because not even the most bulletproof quad will last long if the owner treats the machine like a piece of crap. obvious, no?

What Can You do to increase your quad’s reliability?

If you already have a quad and are worried about long-term reliability, then worry not! if you have a modernish model, then you might be lucky. modern quads are generally more reliable and old machines when it comes to the main components, like transmission, engine, and suspension. while they might have more electrical components that might break down, generally they are a cheap and easy fix. the expensive, important stuff is more sturdy than ever.

However, that doesn’t mean that you cannot do anything to increase the quad’s reliability. I made this small list to let you know what you can do to make your quad last as long as possible.

  • Make a point of doing maintenance. this is the #1 tip for anybody looking to stay with their quad over the long term. I made a maintenance guide a few weeks ago and in that post, I talked about why it’s so important to do the maintenance of your quad religiously. in short, doing maintenance will ensure that your quad has a smaller chance of breaking down and having a catastrophic failure.
  • Avoid revving the engine a lot. this is a tip that you might not be able to follow, but if you are the kind of person that likes riding more slowly, then this is a good way to save your quad for years to come. try to about revving the engine past its limits. this way it has less chance of breaking down and needing a rebuild.