How to Charge Your ATV Battery for Maximum Longevity and Performance

Before Can-Am went to their new body style where they put the battery under the seat, they had some of the stupidest battery locations. The worst was the Renegade with the battery in the back, under the seat and surrounded by aluminum. I still have the scars on my fingers from when I welded them to that plate because of how bad the design was.

I bring that up because at some point, you’ll need to charge your ATV battery. While some batteries are easy to get to, there are still ATVs on the market that are a pain. Not only that, but there is a proper procedure of steps, and I bet many of you are doing it wrong!

Enough of my complaining, let’s get to the point, let’s talk about it.

What Are The Signs Of A Dead Or Dying Battery?

  1. The common signs of a dead battery 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 4-wheelers when it’s turned on.
  2. Another way to tell is that when you press the start button, the machine gives multiple clicks. Not to be confused with one click, which is a bad starter relay.
  3. The best way to know 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. Many autoparts store have load testers and will test for free, but you can get your own load tester.

What Battery Chargers Do I Recommend?

To see what battery-chargers you should use, I have a post that covers that here.

Ideally, remove the battery before charging it to avoid potential hazards. Charging batteries can release hydrogen, which can explode with a spark.

Some may be aggressive, causing damage to computers or blowing fuses, although this is rare.

If removing the battery is difficult, at least disconnect the terminals beforehand within the unit.

The Steps On How To Charge An ATV Battery

Charging your ATV or side-by-side battery is a standardized process. Here are the correct steps:

  1. Park and turn off the quad.
  2. Remove panels or the seat to access the battery.
  3. Ideally, remove the battery using a 10mm or 13mm socket set, starting with the negative terminal.
  4. Connect a smart battery charger: positive lead to the battery, then the negative lead.
  5. Plug the charger into the wall to test the battery.
  6. If the battery is fine, the smart charger will start charging (this can take hours).
  7. After charging, disconnect the charger from the wall.
  8. With the charger unplugged, remove the negative cable, then the positive.
  9. Reinstall the battery in the machine, connecting the positive terminal first.

I Suggest Using A Smart Battery Charger

ATVs 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. They will also test the battery and a few will try to desulfate it.

You should only use a 2-amp smart battery-charger (ad) to avoid overcharging your battery. The ATV batteries are small and can’t handle larger amps; doing so will shorten their lifespan.

Try Solar If You Have No Outlets Near You!

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 works when the sun is out and doesn’t need any power plug.

The one drawback is that they are slower, but if you keep one on when you’re not riding, your battery will always be ready to go. Solar chargers won’t make your battery last forever, but you’ll get multiple years out of it, which is not always the case when using no chargers.

What Amps Do You Use?

For a quick battery charge, use a higher-amp smart charger, but be aware it may reduce battery lifespan.

Charging lead-acid batteries slowly is optimal.

In a rush, jump-start your quad, either with jump packs or another quad (ensure the other one is off). Avoid jump-starting with a running ATV or car, as it can be problematic due to the stator’s limited charging ability.

It’s A Good Idea To Charge New Batteries, Even If They Look Fine.

Wondering if a new battery needs charging? Most sealed batteries arrive ready. However, if fluid needs adding, charge it.

Even if pre-charged, topping up with a smart charger prolongs its life. Factory-sealed and charged batteries remain good for several months, with date codes indicating their age on round stickers.

What Are The Biggest Reasons For ATV Batteries To Die?

The primary cause of battery failure is inactivity.

Lead-acid batteries drain when not in use, so using a solar or smart maintainer helps maintain battery health, extending its lifespan to over 5 years.

For prolonged inactivity, always keep a maintainer connected or charge the battery the night before use. After a year of disuse, batteries can become sulfated and require replacement. Regular charging or a maintenance charger can prevent yearly replacements.

Are Lithium Batteries Worth It?

When people have problems with their lead-acid ATV batteries, they tend to start to look for better options. One of those options is new and it’s 12-volt lithium ATV batteries.

There are several perks to going with lithium, for one, they save on weight and tend to last longer than lead-acid ones that come with your ATV.

But are they worth it? I, personally, don’t use them. Lithium batteries cost more, need a special maintainer or controller built in, and I don’t trust them. ATV’s go in rough areas, often in water. I worry about damaging the plastic battery case and water getting in and touching the lithium of the battery. For those that don’t, when lithium touches water it ignites and can’t be put out with water, it only makes it worse.

The regular lead-acid batteries work fine if you know how to take care of them. Plus, I’m waiting for super capacitor to come more mainstream and hit the market for ATV batteries. They already have jump starters using them, and I carry one with me.

When Should You Get A New Battery?

Sometimes a battery-charger won’t recover a battery, and you’ll need to get a new one. Sometimes, it’s not worth trying.

If the battery has been sitting for years, just buy a new battery. The old one is going to be dried out and so far sulfated that it’s not worth it.

Another way to tell is if you take off and put it on a load and goes right to zero, just get a new battery. Batteries like to lie and will show a surface charg, but any real load and it goes flat. Something is not right with the internals of the battery, and it’s not worth fighting.

Your Batteries Can Be Recharged Many Times

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 the batteries are smaller.

How Long Do Batteries Take To Recharge?

A battery can take anywhere from an hour to 12 hours to fully charge.

Often, I tell people to let it go overnight and do it the night before the ride. Due to the size of 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.