Do ATV Batteries Need Water? What You Need To Know

When your ATV gets older and has been used a lot, there will be inevitable maintenance that needs to be done. When you are doing regular maintenance, you will find yourself looking at your ATV battery and wondering what you must do, and whether you need to occasionally need to change the water.

Yes, ATV batteries need water. Most ATVs still use lead-acid batteries that will need to be maintained using distilled water. You must regularly check the levels of your battery and make sure that it is at the right level.

The problem, however, is that not all ATVs are the same, and newer vehicles will have different battery types, requiring different maintenance. Most new owners will be confused about what distilled water is, and where to get it.

Here are the basics of battery maintenance and where to get the right tools.

Why do ATV batteries need water?

Because most ATVs still used lead-acid batteries, they require distilled water to function properly. The reaction between the internal components needs water to work properly. This is because lead-acid batteries are some of the hardiest batteries out there, allowing for overcharging and long-standing more readily than newer batteries.

Lead-acid batteries have the peculiar function of being able to accept overcharge when being used. This means that if the ATV or charger that you have them plugged into produces too much power, then the battery will boil off the water inside it. This is known as the simple reaction of excess energy being transformed into heat, which causes the water inside the battery to be boiled away.

Because lead-acid batteries require distilled water inside them, you must always ensure that the water level of the battery is correct. Not having enough water inside the battery will mean that it will not work and might even become so damaged that you must replace the battery.

How to check the water level of your ATV battery?

There are multiple signs that you must check on the water levels of your battery, each one requiring more knowledge from you to do effectively. These are simple checks that need to be done, like manually checking the water level, to the complicated like measuring how the battery reacts to charging and being used.

  • Water level: Lead-acid batteries have several compartments within them, each containing a liquid solution and lead plates. On your ATV battery, you may find four to six compartments with compartments that you can open to check on the battery internals. There will be a maximum fill line that you will need to fill with water when it drops below a certain level.
  • Bubbling noises: When lead-acid batteries are overcharged, either through extreme use or being overcharged, the water inside will absorb the excess heat being produced. This means that the water will start to boil away, causing your battery to literally produce bubbling noises as the water heats up more and more.
  • Battery life: When your water levels are too low, your lead acid battery will experience a massive reduction in the life it has between charges. You will find that it may need to be recharged more often or may not work when the ATV has been unused for even short trips. Checking on the water may reveal that there is almost none and that the chemical reaction required for the battery to work is not there.
  • No Power: When there is almost no power coming from your battery, it may mean that there is no more of the required liquid solution inside the battery for it to work. However, when there is still some solution left, you can add more water, however, if it has been dried out entirely, a unique solution is required as lead-acid batteries do need some acid to be in them apart from just water.

Which water should you use for your ATV battery?

There is only one type of water that should be added to your lead acid battery, distilled water. This is not normal water that has been filtered or simply cleaned. This is specialized water that you can only get at specific locations; luckily, both are just around the corner of most people.

Auto Parts Stores

At the same place where you can buy oil and other parts for your ATV, even new batteries, you can buy distilled water. Unlike other locations, you can buy larger quantities as these stores will be aware that you may need more than would be used in medical applications.

You can easily buy five liters of water at a time; however, they will require that you explain to them how you are going to use the water. This is because distilled water can be hazardous when consumed by water.


Because much medical equipment needs to undergo special cleaning processes, pharmacies can provide distilled water if needed. However, because medical equipment does not require as much distilled water, you will only be able to refill your ATV a little bit at a time.

Usually, pharmacies sell up to one-liter bottles of distilled water that can be used for your lead-acid batteries.

How often should you change the water of your ATV battery?

If you do not use your ATV regularly or you use it almost every weekend, there are different times and places you should be checking the water levels of your battery.

Constant use

If you use your ATV almost every weekend, you may have to check your battery quite regularly, as you will be charging and discharging battery all the time. During treks through forests, across deserts, or even just trips down the road, your battery will be used repeatedly.

As this is what can boil away the water in your lead-acid battery, then you will find that you need to check on your water levels more often. Simply checking the water levels every month or two will be sufficient to ensure no damage to your battery is done.

Part time use

Sometimes ATVs are only used once or twice a year when you go to visit vacation homes, or you may find yourselves not being able to go out and have fun with them easily. Therefore, you will need to check on your battery levels before you go on vacation.

If you have an ATV at your vacation location, then you will need to check on the battery before you go, and maybe bring an extra battery with you, this would be easier than relying on a battery that has been standing for a year or more.

How often should you replace your ATV battery?

It is recommended that you replace your batteries often if your ATV experiences large amounts of use. This can mean replacing the battery yearly, or you may want to replace the battery ever time your use your ATV.

If you are willing to make some upgrades to your ATV, you may consider replacing the lead-acid battery with a lithium-ion battery that will last a lot longer.


These are the things you will need to do with your lead-acid battery, checking up on it often, and seeing how your ATV reacts to certain things will tell you how long it still can go. Having a perfectly working lead-acid battery will mean more hours of fun without headaches of being jumpstarted or push to start.

Get your battery filled, take your ATV somewhere wild, and have some wild fun without a care in the world!

Louis Pretorius

As an amateur off-road enthusiast, I have always been drawn to outdoor adventure. I have decided to share all of my learning experiences with you as I dig a little deeper into my new-found passion and wonderful world of off-roading. My mission is to create the Ultimate Off-roading space on the internet in the process. Stay safe and happy Off-Roading!

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