How Long To Charge ATV Battery – A Complete Guide

No matter how big, strong, and capable your all-terrain vehicle’s battery might be, it still needs a recharge every once in a while. Now, the most popular questions online are “how long to charge ATV battery” and “how can I charge the battery on my own”. Well, that’s exactly why I decided to write this post – to guide you through the process of charging. This isn’t rocket science, but there are still some rules to follow.

Unless you do it properly, you can end up damaging the battery and even the entire powertrain (mostly, the engine). Yep, you heard it right. So, without further ado, let’s get right to it. We’ll start by learning the ideal charging time for ATV batteries and then talk about the actual charging process in more detail, including smart chargers, voltmeters, and more.

Perfect Charging Times

Perfect Charging TimesThe big question is – are there any ideal charging times for ATV batteries, or not? Here are the facts: a full charge usually takes between three to ten hours. This depends on the battery (how old it is, how well you take care of it) and the charger. If you’ve got a high-grade charger, it will need very little time to recharge the battery. Now, it’s important to understand that a “high-grade” unit isn’t the one that transmits a strong current.

It’s actually the other way around. Say, you’ve got a charger that puts out 2 amps. That device will fully recharge an ATV battery in less than four hours. In contrast, a 5-amp charger will get the job done in 9-10 hours. Some chargers have different operating modes. By switching to the float/drip mode, you can expect the battery to reach a full charge in 4.5-5 hours.

Safety Precautions

Safety PrecautionsThe most important thing to remember when dealing with ATV batteries is to make sure you’ve got the right device for charging. I’m talking about voltage, of course. Keep in mind that four-wheeler batteries are pretty fragile. So, if you were wondering – how to charge an ATV battery with car charger – here’s my answer. You shouldn’t really use a regular car charger to “fire up” an ATV battery.

The reason: it usually has a rather high power output (up to 10 amps, or more). That kind of charge will, most likely, cause a quad vehicle’s battery to overheat, which leads to permanent damage and maybe even a malfunction in the engine. Only consider using a car charger if it’s a customizable device that allows limiting the output. If that’s the case, put the threshold/limit at 2-3 amps, and give it a try.

How long do Batteries Last?

How long do Batteries Last - VoltageAgain, this largely depends on the quality of the battery unit and your maintenance routine. If you want to know the average lifespan, it’s 3 to 4 years. There is little point in buying some of the more expensive batteries because their life expectancy won’t be significantly higher compared to the cheaper options. Some experts claim that the more you charge a battery, the less reliable and durable it becomes.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t charge it at all, of course. What I would recommend is to constantly check on the charge levels. There are actually pretty clear instructions for this: only consider charging the battery when its voltage drops below 12.4 volts. If it’s higher, there will be little use in “refilling” the charge. I also want to say that the quality of the charger affects the lifespan of the battery as well.

Charging an ATV Battery: Looking for the Right Device

Looking for the Right Device - Smart Battery ChargerAlright, so, by now, we’ve talked about the right charging times for quad batteries, learned how long the average battery lasts and familiarized ourselves with some safety precautions. We still have one “stop” to make. With the basics out of the way, let’s go ahead and learn how to charge ATV battery. The best way to do this is to invest in a decent-quality smart charger. These are available for 70-80 US dollars and last for many years, if not decades.

The best thing about smart chargers is that they are compatible with a long line of four-wheelers and have wires-connections for pretty much every single ATV battery on the market. Another big pro: most reasonably-priced smart chargers have a built-in system that stops the charging process once the battery reaches a full charge. That prevents it from damaging the battery (yes, overly long charging times are known to cause overheating, among other things).

The less expensive chargers don’t have this feature, and you’ll have to turn them off manually.

Charging an ATV Battery: a Step-by-Step Guide

Don’t worry: there’s nothing hard about using a smart charger. You will, however, need a screwdriver (or, at least, a wrench) to remove the plastic side panel and access the “insides” of your quad vehicle. In some cases, the seat will have to be removed as well. At this point, you’ve got a choice to make: either leave the battery where it is or remove it. I recommend taking it out completely.

That way, it will be much easier to disconnect it from the ATV. This is important: make sure every single wire is disconnected before charging the battery! Next, use the clamps provided with the charger to connect to the battery unit. The positive lead is colored red and should connect to the positive terminal of the ATV battery. The negative lead, in turn, is usually black and is used for grounding.

A clean, bare metallic surface will do just fine. I usually connect the negative to my all-terrain vehicle’s frame. The connectors should always be sparkly-clean – even the tiniest dust particles can cause some trouble. Plus, don’t forget to get a pair of protective gloves and eyewear. The acid inside of batteries is pretty toxic for the human skin.

Once you’re done, disconnect the charger and give the battery a try. I always let it sit for at least a couple of hours before using a voltmeter to measure the charge. If the battery can’t hold the charge properly, chances are, you’re dealing with a dead unit that needs to be replaced.


Ok, that concludes my guide into the world of ATV batteries. If you don’t want to spend big bucks on a new battery or pay a mechanic to charge it, you need to at least know the basics of proper charging. As we learned today, all-terrain-vehicle batteries are pretty fragile and sensitive, which means they need chargers with a specific power output to work correctly. Once you get to know the basics, it will be much easier to do everything on your own.

It’s all about following the rules and using the right equipment and techniques for charging. And if you still have some questions left, don’t hesitate to reach out to me! Or, use the comments section to share your thoughts, tips, and tricks for the less experienced readers. Take care of your ATV, and happy travels!

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