Charging your ATV’s battery may seem like a simple task, but there are important steps and precautions to consider.
An ATV battery that is dead can keep your ATV from starting, be costly to replace, and cause odd running issues. You’ll need to keep your ATV battery in good shape, and that means charging it after it’s been sitting for months or keeping a smart charger on it to keep it always ready to go.
In this post, I’ll go over how to charge your ATV battery, what chargers to use, and how to get the most life out of your ATV battery.
How To Charge An ATV Battery
Charging the battery on your ATV or side by side is similar for most models and brands. Below, I’ve listed the steps you need to take to do it correctly.
- Put the ATV in park and turn the ATV off.
- Remove panels or seat to get access to the battery.
- Ideally, you should remove the battery. Often, a 10mm or 13mm socket set can remove most ATV batteries. Always disconnect the negative terminal first.
- Using a smart battery charger, connect the positive lead of the charger to the battery. Then connect the negative lead from the charger.
- Plug the smart battery charger into the wall outlet and let it test the battery.
- If the battery comes back fine, the smart charger will start to charge the battery.
- When the battery is done charging, it can take hours, you disconnect the charger from the wall first.
- With the charger disconnected from the wall, you disconnect the negative cables and then positive.
- Place the battery back into the ATV, connect the positive terminal first when attaching the battery back to the ATV.
Why A Smart Battery Charger?
ATV’s use a 12-volt battery, and you can get all types of battery chargers.
You want to stick to smart battery chargers because they will turn on and off as the battery needs it. Smart battery chargers will also test the battery and a few will try to desulfate the battery if it needs it.
You should only use a 2-amp smart battery charger* to avoid overcharging your ATV battery. ATV batteries are small and can’t handle larger amp chargers; doing so will shorten their lifespan.
If you don’t have a wall outlet for a smart battery chargers, you can use a solar battery charger, as covered in this post.
Solar is great as it charges when the sun is out and doesn’t need any power plug.
The one drawback is that solar chargers are slower, but if you keep one on when you’re not riding, your ATV battery will always be ready to go. Solar chargers won’t make your ATV battery last forever, but you’ll get multiple years out of it, which is not always the case when using no chargers.
Best ATV Battery Chargers
To see what battery chargers you should use for your ATV, I have a post that covers that here.
Can You Charge The Battery Inside The ATV?
Ideally, you should remove the battery from your ATV before charging it.
Batteries can explode because they emit hydrogen when charging and with the perfect spark, they pop.
Also, some battery chargers can be too aggressive or the computer on your ATV is picky, and things can go wrong. I’ve seen battery chargers fry the computers on ATVs and blow fuses, it’s unlikely, but it does happen.
I understand some ATV batteries are hard to get to and if you want to take the risk of charging it in the ATV, that is up to you. I do suggest at least disconnecting the terminals from the battery before you start.
How To Know Your ATV Battery Needs To Be Charged?
- The common signs an ATV battery needs to be charged is that the display won’t turn on when you turn the key and flip the kill switch. You should also hear the fuel pump running for a fuel injected ATV when it’s turned on.
- Another way to tell your ATV battery needs to be charged is that when you press the start button, the ATV gives multiple clicks. Not to be confused with one click, which is a bad starter relay.
- The best way to know if your ATV battery needs to charged is by doing a load test. A load test is different from looking at the voltage of the battery, voltage can lie, you must measure amps! A load tester will see how much cranking amps your battery has and is the only true way to tell if it’s good, needs to be charged, or is bad. Many autoparts store have load testers and will test for free, but you can get your own load tester here*.
You can skip all the fuss and just hook up the smart battery charger to see what it does. If the battery needs to be charged, the smart charger will get to work. If the battery is dead, the smart charger will let you know. Some smart chargers can even revive, to some degree, a dead battery by desulfating it.
How To Fast Charge ATV Battery?
If you’re in a crunch and need your ATV battery charged quickly there are some things you can do, but it’s never going to end well.
A higher-amp smart charger can help, but the battery may not last for much longer. The slower you can charge your battery the better, it’s just the nature of lead-acid batteries.
The best option if you ask me is to jump start your ATV and keep it running if time is an issue. You can carry jump packs* that will charge off a dead battery using super capacitors, or use another ATV to jump start your ATV, making sure the other ATV is off. Never jump start an ATV with another ATV or car that has the engine running.
Your ATV uses a stator, so it’s not going to do a good job of charging the battery, but if time is an issue, it’s the best you’re going to get besides buying a new battery.
Do You Charge New ATV Batteries?
If you get a new battery for your ATV, you may wonder if it needs to be charged before using it?
Most sealed ATV batteries you buy come charged, but if you need to add the fluid to the battery, it must be charged. Even if the battery comes charged, putting it on the charger until the smart charger says it’s charged can extend its life and be better overall.
A new battery that is sealed and charged from the factory is usually good for several months. Batteries have date codes on them, it’s usually a round sticker with the month and year.
How To Keep Your ATV Battery From Dying?
The most common reason your ATV battery dies is due to inactivity.
Lead-acid batteries go flat when they’re not being used, so keeping a solar charger or smart charger on your battery is helpful, as they keep the battery active.
If you’re not going to be using your ATV for months, I suggest keeping a charger on the battery. If you can’t do that, then charge the battery the night before you intend to ride.
After one year of not using your ATV battery, it can become so sulfated that it won’t charge, and you need to buy a new battery. This is why people buy new batteries every year at the start of the riding season. If they kept a charger on the battery or charged it every so often, they wouldn’t have to buy a new battery every year.
Can ATV Batteries Be Recharged?
All gas-powered ATVs with batteries can have their batteries recharged using a 12-volt smart battery charger*.
ATVs use a lead acid battery similar to a car battery, the difference is that ATV batteries are smaller.
How Long Do ATV Batteries Take To Charge?
An ATV battery can take anywhere from an hour to 12 hours to fully charge.
Often, I tell people to let it charge overnight and do the charging the night before the ride. Due to the size of ATV batteries, you don’t want to overcharge them, you want to go slow, and overnight is the best.
If you charge overnight, make sure to use a smart battery charger, as it will turn off when it’s done.