How To Lock Down Your ATV

When I use to work at an ATV dealership I would get many stories on people who had their ATV’s stolen. Nothing worse than hearing how the thieves just run off with people’s machines.

I know the feeling, I’ve had one too many ATV’s stolen from me. Through a lot of trial and error and also hearing what other people are doing, I have come up with a list. This list is what I consider to be the best ways to protect your ATV or even Side by Side from getting stolen.

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Hopefully, these little tips can help you keep your ATV from getting stolen.

What You Should Do First

What you should do first is get some insurance. It’s just plain stupid to not have insurance on your ATV especially if you have had one stolen from you in the past.

Everyone is going to pay different prices for their insurance coverage, but I paid like $250 a year and I consider that to be well worth it.


The oldest and really the best method is to simply lock the ATV up with a chain and a lock. How much protection you want depends on how much you’re willing to spend. A simple chain and a simple lock will be “simple” to break. Sure it looks secure but to a trained thief it’s quite easy.

What you want is a braided cable like this one (Amazon Link Ad) and a nice lock.

Here is the Stanley Hardware 828160 2.5-Inch and 60-mm Hardened Steel Security Lock (Amazon Link Ad). This is probably one the best value locks I have come across and will work just fine for locking up your ATV. It might be a little overkill if you ask me.

You got to make sure you run the cable through something secure like the frame of your quad. Also, make sure to secure the other end to something that is stuck in the ground.

Other Options

So what if you’re somewhere that you can wrap a chain or cable around your bike? The next best options are the things that make it difficult for the thieves to steal.

One option is to take a wheel or two off the ATV. No one wants to steal a heavy machine with only two wheels on it.

Another option is to use a Tire Clamp. If you don’t want to take the wheel off then you can clamp on a Tire Clamp. This keeps the wheel from spinning which makes it harder to drive off with the machine. Still not fully bulletproof, but super inconvenient for the thieves.

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A handlebar lock (Amazon Link Ad) is another option. This clamps onto the handlebars and the squeezes the brake lever closed, so it also is kind of parking brake. This keeps the wheels from spinning because the brake is applied and only a key can release the clamp. I really like using this style lock as it quick and easy to carry around with me when I go to all the different trails.

A really cool option is to use GPS tracker. Now GPS is only good after the fact, but at least it allows you to get justice! I was very surprised when my buddy showed me what he was using and much more affordable these GPS’s have become. I actually have placed them in my car, just so that I know where my car is when I let people borrow it. Also if you rent ATV’s it’s nice to be able to track the machines when people ride them!

Don’t Forget The Trailer

Most people forget about the trailer they use to haul the ATV around with. The trailer should always be locked up and secure along with the ATV.

I’ve seen people lock up an ATV and not the trailer, but the fool had the ATV on the trailer. So all he did was make it easy to back up to the trailer and drive off with the ATV.

What you want to do is put a tongue lock (Amazon Link Ad) on the trailer so that people can’t hook it up and drive off.

Tip: Don’t run a cable lock through the tires of the trailer. Once the tires start to move they can actually easily cut the cable lock if the trailer is heavy enough. I’ve broken many cable locks this way by forgetting that they are on the trailer. So this method is not very effective.

Why Do People Steal ATV’s?

The biggest reason why people will want to steal an ATV is that many states don’t require you to register them. So once its stolen they can just remove the VIN and no one is none the wiser. The VIN’s are not tracked.

Also, they can take them apart and sell the parts. This is not as common and many of the thieves like to just sell the whole ATV to unexpecting buyers. When the buyer brings the machine in for some type of service many dealerships run the VIN and find the machine as stolen and the buyer gets in trouble.

Many manufacturers have gotten smart like Can-AM. Can-AM uses digital keys that can only be programmed at the dealership. These keys keep people from jamming a screwdriver in the socket or “hot wiring” the ATV to start.

Many ATV’s need to be hooked up to a computer for anything and the VIN is stored there now which keeps thieves from removing them.