How To Start an ATV: Step-by-Step Guide


Experienced riders don’t have to be reminded about the ATV start-up procedure. But if it is your first time riding a quad, follow this comprehensive step-by-step guide. Learn the proper start-up routine, so all your four-wheeling adventures can be safe and comfortable. Start with taking your helmet and gloves out of the ATV box, and putting them on. Now mount the quad and get ready.

atv box

The BONEC Start-Up Procedure

ATV riding instructors generally teach their students the BONEC routine. It is a simple and effective mnemonic device.

  • B stands for “Brake.” Setting the parking brake should be your first step.
  • O stands for “On.” Now it’s time to turn the gas valve and ignition to ON.
  • N stands for “Neutral.” Take a look at the neutral light indicator or try rolling your vehicle forward and back. Remember! Your parking brake should stay released during this procedure.
  • E stands for “Engine.” Turn the engine switch to ON (RUN/START).
  • C stands for “Choke.” To warm up the engine, use the choke.

Before you try repeating this procedure, check your surroundings. Remove all safety hazards or relocate your ATV to an area more suited for training. Make sure that your ATV rack box is closed and properly fastened to the quad. Mount the vehicle from the left side. Both your hands should stay on the handlebars. Both your feet should be firmly kept on the footrests. You should be sitting upright, with shoulders relaxed, keeping your eyes up. Apply pressure on the brakes gradually, don’t rush.

Starting Up a Four-wheeler for Dummies

Does the BONEC routine look too brief? Here’s the longer version of the same procedure, simplified for the convenience of all newly-minted ATV riders. Repeat these 15 steps. No worries, you’ll do fine.

  1. Follow the Manual. Familiarize yourself with all the features of your four-wheeler. Some ATVs have complex ignition systems, others are relatively simple machines. Learn whether your quad comes with a twist or thumb throttle, an automatic or manual transmission. Find a manual for your model online if you lack a print version.
  2. Do a Quick Inspection. Begin your routine with a short walk around. Look for missing parts, oil or gas leaks, and everything else that seems out of place. Inspect your tires for cracks, worn threads and low pressure. Keep your gas tank full.
  3. Face the Right Direction. You should train on a flat dirt trail, while pointing your vehicle in a direction with no obstacles. Avoid paved surfaces.
  4. Parking Brake. Set the brake. If you own a fully automatic four-wheeler, switch it to the PARK mode.
  5. Gas Valve. Switch the gas valve to the ON position if you have a full tank. Otherwise, switch it to REVERSE.
  6. Transmission. Put your transmission in PARK or NEUTRAL. If you have an automatic vehicle, you’ve already set it in the PARK mode in Step 4. Additionally, rock your four-wheeler a little bit back and forth. Apply the parking brake once again.
  7. Engine. Turn the switch to the ON position. Some models might have a RUN/START mode. The switch should be on your right or left handlebar.
  8. Cold Start. If you need to warm up the engine, set the choke in the ON mode. After the engine has warmed up, return the switch to its default mode. You won’t be able to operate your vehicle properly without turning the choke off.
  9. Hand Brake. Apply the hand brake before you finish the start-up routine and start moving. It’s an important safety measure that will prevent you from unintentionally speeding and falling.
  10. Parking Brake-2. Remember Step 4? Now you should release the brake (keep applying the hand brake at the same time). You won’t be able to drive around properly if your parking brake is on.
  11. Transmission-2. Switch to DRIVE if you operate an automatic vehicle. Alternatively, shift into gear, and you are ready to go.
  12. Hand Brake-2. Slowly release the hand brake. Your vehicle will start rolling slowly. Remain in control over your body and the machine.
  13. Throttle. Twist the throttle a little bit or use your thumb to push it, depending on your quad model. Don’t rush. Ride slowly.
  14. Let’s Go. Take a ride on a familiar trail or start exploring. Good luck!
  15. Push-starting the Quad. Get your four-wheeler on top of a small hill. Ask your friend to give you a push. Shift into gear, and your engine will turn on.


You have followed the start-up procedure but your vehicle doesn’t seem to be moving? There are 3 main reasons your ATV won’t start.

  • No Gas. If you have enough gas in the tank, try pulling the fuel line a few times to let the gas flow to the carburetor.
  • No Spark. If your battery is dead, replace it. You might also need to get fresh spark plugs. If you are unable to perform these operations, get in touch with a service technician.
  • Starter Motor Failure. Check the fuse if your starter doesn’t run.

Don’t forget to inspect and maintain your ATV properly. If you can’t do it yourself, contact an expert.

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