Skip to Content

How To Perform an ATV Pre-Ride Inspection

Sharing is caring!

If you are new to recreational ATV riding or have had your ATV in storage for a while, it’s essential to learn how to perform an ATV Pre-Ride Inspection.

In fact, the ATV Safety Institute recommends you perform a Pre-Ride Inspection before each ride because recreational ATV riding can be extremely harsh on your ATV.

The following quick steps should be performed before each ATV ride you take.

ATV Pre-Ride Inspection
ATV Pre-Ride Inspection

An ATV pre-ride inspection checklist is essential whether you race your ATV, use it to run errands on the farm, or simply ride it for leisure.

It would only take you a few minutes, but it will surely lessen your chances of having injuries and ensure you enjoy using it for a long time.

ATV Safety Institute’s FREE ATV E-Course

If you have never completed the ATV Safety Institute’s Free ATV E-course, you should do so. It’s a basic introduction to ATV riding.

Still, it has some valuable information for anyone new to ATV riding or just looking to increase their knowledge and be a better and safer ATV operator.

This ATV E-Course covers safety techniques that focus on the best practices in ATV riding and others such as different protective gear, environmental concerns, and local laws.

You will be required to complete this ATV E-Course before participating in the ATV RiderCourse S-Course hands-on training.

We have prepared a step-by-step guide on how to do a pre-ride inspection to make it even easier for you to do it each time you head out of a ride.

Check out the ATV Pre-Ride Inspection Checklist below.

ATV Pre-Ride Inspection Checklist

Because every ATV is slightly different, it is essential to familiarize yourself with your specific ATV owner’s manual maintenance checklists.

However, there are a few basic things to keep in mind no matter which type of ATV you have. The ATV Safety Institute offers the acronym T-CLOC to help you remember each system to check.

  • T-Tires and Wheels
  • C-Controls and Cables
  • L- Lights and Electrics
  • O-Oil and Fuel
  • C-Chain/Driveshaft and Chassis
atv inspection checklist
ATV Pre-Ride Inspection

As much as you are excited to explore the wilderness, you’d also want to make sure you tick all the boxes in this T-CLOC checklist for a safe and hassle-free ride.

Always put your safety first!

ATV Pre-Ride Checklist- “T” is for Tires and Wheels

Check all the following when inspecting your ATV tires.

  1. Tire Air Pressure– Your ATV should have a sticker somewhere telling you the appropriate tire pressure for your particular ATV. If you can’t locate it or have a used ATV, check the owner’s manual. Always use the size and type of tires specified for your vehicle. Most Quad ATV tires will need somewhere between 2 to 6 psi. If you have a SxS ATV, such as a Polaris RZR, your tires will likely need between 7 and 10 psi depending upon whether you have 1 or 2 riders. Be sure to consult your ATV owner’s manual.
  2. Condition- Check your tires for cuts or gouges that could cause air leakage.
  3. Wheel Nuts and Axle Nuts- Inspect and ensure your axle nuts are tight and secure and check the torque on the wheel nuts.

*Note: Use a low-pressure gauge to properly check your tires. A normal tire gauge, isn’t accurate to measure pressures below 10 psi.

The tires receive the most pressure when you ride your ATV through rough terrain, so you’ll want to ensure that they undergo a comprehensive inspection.

Otherwise, you may find yourself fussing over a busted tire, or worse, tires.

ATV Pre-Ride Checklist- “C” is for Controls and Cable Checks

The C of T-CLOC stands for Controls and Cables.

  1. Controls– Check all your controls to ensure they are fully operational and moving.
  2. Throttle and other cables– If you have a quad ATV, make sure the throttle doesn’t stick by pushing the throttle lever toward the handlebar and letting go. The lever should come back to where it was before you pushed it. If it sticks by not coming back, something is wrong or broken and you need to have it fixed before riding your ATV. If your ATV is equipped with Throttle limiter, adjust it appropriately for the age of your rider.
  3. Brakes- Check brakes and adjust according to your owner’s manual. Check brake fluid for proper levels.
  4. Foot Shifter- Check that the foot shifter is firmly attached and positioned for safe operation.

SxS ATV Controls- If you are operating a SxS ATV, check the accelerator pedals and brakes. Check all the seat belts and harness.

Taking your vehicle for a test run is a must to make sure controls are in good working order.

You may also want to watch out for any unusual sounds during the test run as they could be indicative of a more severe problem.

ATV Pre-Ride Checklist-“L” is for Lights and Electrics

L- of T-CLOCK is for the Lights and Electrics.

  1. Ignition Switch– Check the switch condition is in good operating order by switching it off and on during warm-up.
  2. Engine Stop (Kill) Switch- Test the kill switch while the ATV is running to ensure the engine stops when the switch is pulled.
  3. Headlights and Taillights- Check that all lights are in good operating order.

Just because you’ll be riding when the sun is out doesn’t mean you should skip checking your lights.

Unforeseen circumstances can always happen where you’ll need your lights to help you out so make sure to always check them.

ATV Pre-Ride Checklist- “O” is for Oil and Fuel

O in T-CLOC is for the Oil and Fuel

  1. Always check your fuel and start each ride with a full tank of gas.
  2. Check your owner’s manual for proper procedure, but always check your Oil levels with the dipstick while the engine is off and fill to appropriate levels.
  3. Check for oil or fuel leaks.
  4. Take off the air filter and check its condition. Be sure it is clean and not torn or blocked. Replace with a new filter as needed.

Make it a habit to perform an ATV pre-ride inspection before heading outdoors to save you the headache of possibly getting stranded because you are out of fuel later on.

ATV Pre-Ride Checklist- “C” is for Chain/Driveshaft and Chassis

Finally, the last “C” in T-CLOC stands for the chain/driveshaft and the chassis.

  1. Drive Chain– Be sure to inspect, adjust, and lubricate the chain on a regular basis. Ensure the chain slack is adjusted within the specifications listed in your owner’s manual.
  2. Drive Shaft- If your ATV has a drive shaft instead of a drive chain, be sure to check it for oil leaks. Maintain its oil supply according to your owner’s manual instructions.
  3. Nuts and Bolts– If you’ve ever ridden an ATV on a trail, you know just how rough the ride can be. All that beating and banging can shake loose the nuts and bolts on your ATV so it’s important to check for loose parts while the engine is off. Shake the handlebars, footrests, and visually inspect the ATV for any other damaged or loose components or fasteners.
atv checklist
ATV Pre-Ride Inspection

Final ATV Pre-Inspection and Cleaning

Finally, do a complete visual inspection for any loose parts, debris, grass. We recommend you thoroughly clean your ATV after each ride and when preparing for storage, but even if the ATV appears to be clean, it is a good idea to give it one last look over.

Ensure there isn’t any grass, mud, or other debris lodged anywhere especially on the underside of the ATV or near the exhaust system.

Download Your FREE ATV Pre-Ride Checklist

Fun ATV Riding Clothes

While protective gear is essential on the trail, it’s ok to look cute and share your wilder riding side with the world. I’m a big fan of ball caps and love this adorable “ATV hair, Don’t Care” hat from Sew Vivid Design on Etsy. Be sure to Check out all this cute ATV apparel.

Recommended ATV Riding Resources


The next best thing to making sure you have done a complete pre-ride inspection is actually ensuring that you are well-equipped in safety gear. Check out this post for the best ATV helmets for trail riding in 2023.

And while you’re planning your next vacation, you may want to consider this off-roading ATV adventure in Sayulita, Mexico from Lovicarious. Looks fun!

Check Out These Web Stories!

Sharing is caring!

Dutch Oven Camping Recipes Campfire Food On A Stick Premade Camping Food Camping Chicken Recipes Healthy Camping Food