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Load and Transport an ATV in 5 Easy Steps

by Matt Powell | Last Updated:  October 4, 2019

If you own an ATV and have ever had to take it somewhere to ride, get worked on, or just plain transport from one place to another, you need a way to move them that isn’t a hassle. I have seen tons of videos and tons of friends loading ATVs the wrong way.  People often damage their quads and their vehicles because they try to take shortcuts and improperly load up before taking their ATVs for a ride down the road.

Always use 2 people to load your ATV for transport. You need to choose the right hauler, position the ATV correctly, and use ramps to load up you ATV. Once you load the ATV it needs to be properly secured using ratchet straps. 

My main concern when loading an ATV into any kind of hauler is safety. I always make sure that loading the ATV is done as safely as possible.  I also want to make sure that it is safe for other drivers on the road because an improperly secured ATV can cause massive damage to property and to other people. I also don’t want to have to pay the money it will cost to fix everything if I don’t follow these steps.

Take a look at what not to do in this quick video.

Choose Your Hauler

ATVs come in many shapes and sizes and haulers do too. Before you try to transport an ATV anywhere you need to determine the correct equipment for the job. The ATV or ATVs need to have enough room so they don’t hang off or are teetering on the edge. I try to make sure that all four wheels are flat and are not hanging off anything when I pack up my ride.

Trucks

If you own a truck then this is probably the most common method to transport a single ATV (depending on the size of the truck and ATV). You need to measure your truck bed and then measure your ATV to ensure it will fit inside with no problems. Once your dimensions are measured it will be easy to decide if your truck is the right choice for hauling your ATV. Trucks are a little harder to load and take a bit more planning than loading a trailer because trucks are generally higher off the ground.

I fit my 2008 Polaris Outlaw 525s in the back of my Toyota Tacoma with no problem whatsoever. Now had I tried to fit a utility ATV in there, it probably would not have fit and I would have to either rent a trailer or borrow one from a friend. 

Trailers

Trailers are for more than one ATV or used when you can’t fit your ATV into the bed of your truck. If I had a trailer, I would much rather load it up than worry about trying to load the quad in the bed every time. Trailers are lower and much easier to load than trucks and pose less risk of an accident, even when loading properly. The downside to using a trailer they are not as easy to handle while driving down the road and you need to take extra caution in traffic.

Use Ramps

Most trailers come with ramps attached or are low enough to add small ramps to in order to safely load an ATV. Ramps are more often designed for getting ATVs into trucks and make it easier to load because of the slight incline. Ramps can be unsafe if not properly secured to the truck.  If your ramps do not come with straps or some method to connect them to your truck, they will most likely slip off at some point causing the ATV to fall in the middle of loading. When loading an ATV you will need 3 ramps or 2 ramps and a step up of some kind. Usually a stand or a sturdy flat surface for you to step up on will work. These Titan ramps are great quality and hold 600 lbs per ramp.

DO NOT do like a lot of people and try to DRIVE your ATV onto the ramps. Any slight variation in throttle or any slight turn can cause the ramps to slip and cause bodily harm or damage to property.

Position the ATV Correctly

Whether loading into a trailer or a truck, always position your ride so that you will be going STRAIGHT in line with the ramps. The worst thing you can do is be crooked when you start and push the ATV right off the side of the ramps before it even gets loaded.

The best way I have found to position an ATV for loading is to get it set up about 5 feet back from the ramps. Now push the quad forward without turning the wheel until you get to the ramps. If the quad stays straight, then you are lined up pretty good. If not, back it up and try again.

Load the ATV

Now is the crucial part where you actually push the ATV onto the ramps or the trailer and get read to get this show on the road. Please always use two people to avoid injuries. 

When pushing, you will want to have one person in the very back providing most of the force needed. You will want the second person to be on the steering wheel while pushing just to make sure your ATV does not veer off course and cause any damage. You will be standing off to one side and approach the ramps as straight as possible (engine off!). This is that part where people mess up.

Walk the ATV straight up up the ramps as you carefully walk up the third ramp or up onto the step keeping the ATV even and straight.  Do not panic if the quad does not quite make it up the ramps, just have the person in the rear move it back slowly while you steer, reposition, and try again.  If it is still too heavy, grab a third person. Remove the ramps once finished and close up the tailgate or the trailer and we are almost done.

Lift Your ATV Without Ramps

This really only works with lighter sport ATVs and is the method I always use because I am too broke to go buy a bunch of ramps.  Ramps are by far the safer method, but in a pinch, this will work too.


Pull the quad up near the tailgate on the truck and put it in gear. Now you and your buddy lifts the front of the quad up and sets the front two tires on the tailgate. Walk to the back and lift up the back end while pushing the quad forward into the truck. It’s that simple. 

I say use two people because that is the safest way but I solo this all the time. I am 6’2” and 225 pounds so it isn’t quite that difficult to me. When in doubt, phone a friend!

Secure Your ATV

You might think once your ATV is in the truck or trailer that you can close up the gate and take off but that is not a good idea. I have personally seen a guy lose his quad out the back of his truck going over a large bump and it really tore his quad and truck up.

They key here is getting a couple good quality ratchet straps. You want to strap the front of the quad around the handlebars with the ends hooking in around the front tire inside the bed of the truck or trailer. This will provide forward and slightly downward tension to keep the quad from bouncing or moving backwards. The second strap ideally will go through your grab bar and down near the rear wheel providing slight downward tension and rearward pressure. This makes sure the back end doesn’t bounce and won’t allow the quad to move forward.

Unloading Your ATV

Unloading your ATV is just the reverse of loading it. I am not going to tell you the steps backwards because it is really common sense. Just stay safety minded when you unload and have help. Remember all the safety techniques from above and you will be just fine.

My name is Matt and I am the founder of DirtWheelRider.com. I want to do my best to give you all the information needed in your offroading endeavors.