How to Ride an ATV in the Rain (and Not Ruin it)

Riding your ATV in the rain might be one of the most fun things to do in all of off-roading, but you should be careful not to ruin your ATV in the process.

ATVs in general are fairly robust vehicles, but riding in the mud and rain can cause damage to it and you should always take the necessary precautions to avoid your ATV from getting ruined.

Let’s examine the precautions you can take to help protect your ATV when playing in the rain.

The problem lies with which ATV you are planning to use. Will you be on a quad bike, an advanced ATV with a roof and doors, or just a simple ATV for hobby purposes. When you see that rain is coming though, you should feel your heartbeat speed up a bit, your arms getting twitchy, and your desire to ride increase. An ATV in the rain can be one of the best things that you can do with your vehicle.

The pure thrill of riding through the mud as water falls from above, and splashes from below, is one of the best feelings that an ATV can provide. It is with this that you need to keep quite a few things in mind. As most ATVs still use gas-powered engines, there are a few things to remember when you go out and enjoy the rain.

Among these things are the dangers of riding in the rain. Losing your grip on the road is not the only thing that can happen when your entire machine is wet. With every surface covered in water and you losing control, you will find yourself suddenly letting go. Letting go of your handles, letting go of your foot controls, and, most importantly, letting go of your life if you aren’t careful.

So, to touch on each of these in one article, we need to break them up into what to focus on, starting with the obvious and adding in the smaller things to remember on each level.

There are things you need to be wearing when on an ATV at all times, which becomes even more important when playing in the rain.

The equipment you need

One of the most important parts of having an ATV is that you need protection equipment that will keep you safe in case something goes wrong. What you need to wear is essential to protect you, and each piece of equipment will mean you have slightly more control over your ATV when wet. The top of the list is simple; a good helmet should be worn at all times.


You may think that not wearing one is fine, but truthfully, there is no piece of equipment more important when riding something like an ATV or bike. Keeping your head safe when you fall is the most important thing, because you will fall, no matter what, you will fall. Most riders think that they won’t, but the truth is that every rider does at one point or another.

This is why having a proper helmet is essential, but playing in the rain requires a few more crucial pieces of equipment.

Gloves, boots and suit

Having the right gloves, boots, and suits are also important to your ATV enjoyment. These are what help you control your ATV better, whether they are quad bikes or small gas-powered machines meant for the woods.

When it rains, the grippy plastic that you have worn out through months of fun times becomes a lot less controllable. With bare hands, you will be more likely to slip off the steering wheel, and you could lose control at the worst of times. The same applies to the boots that you can use on quad bikes or ATVs; they are made to increase the grip and friction you have on all control surfaces.

Not to mention that most of this equipment is slightly waterproof or allow for water to flow away with ease. Meaning you won’t feel heavy or out of control when you are riding through deep puddles of water or riding down a dirt road during a massive rainstorm.

What your ATV needs

The first thing you will need to ensure when you take your ATV out into the rain is that it is capable of getting thoroughly wet without any issues. This means that there are no exposed wires that could cause a short, the wheels are capable, and that there’s nothing loose that should be tight.

Exposed wires

Many owners forget to do these checks, then go out into the rain, and at first, it’s all fun; however, after an hour or maybe ten minutes, their ATV just dies. This is because there might be something that sparked, or worse. People often forget that ATVs need fresh air to complete internal combustion, the only way gas-powered engines have of moving.

Going through water

When most first-time rainy-day drivers discover puddles, they quickly start making a few mistakes, chief among them is stopping at the wrong time. Controlling your vehicle is essential; however, when you are driving through a puddle of water that quickly covers the engine of your ATV, you should never stop moving. This keeps the air intake of your ATV mildly open and may even have it not die while you are in the middle of a very muddy, massive pool of water.


Along with checking your ATV for any faults that may cause it to die, you should check to see that the wheels are still suitable for use. This means that they should have decent treads and not have any apparent punctures, ATVs do not have spare wheels on them. Thus, you cannot replace a flat tire when you are caught in the middle of a rainstorm, far away from your trailer or house.

Pumping them up means that you will easily be able to check for faults and have them ready for fun.


While you are at a gas station to pump up the wheels, you must refuel the ATVs and the extra gas tanks you have on the trailer. Running out of gas and having to push your ATV back is probably one of the worst experiences anyone can have.

Towing ropes

The last thing you need is a towing rope, or a few at least because you will get stuck. A constant of using ATVs in mud and wet conditions is the problem of getting stuck. Unless you are an extremely experienced driver, you and your friends will get stuck. Having tow ropes will help you and your friends get out of situations without having to get out and push a quad bike or ATV in the rain and mud.

This leads to the next point that you will need to ensure your ATV stays relatively unruined.

What you should be doing

Before you ever go out into a rainstorm with your ATV, you need to know it like the back of your hand. Knowing how the vehicle handles in mud, in water, and on any surface that exists, is essential. This is why you need to go and do one of the best things to prepare for a rain-soaked ride, practice.

The best way to do this is getting out into the world and making mistakes, this is where all the other gear you have will be important. Every time you drive through some kind of obstacle, massive mud puddle, or speed down a sandy road, you will increase your knowledge of your ATV a little more.

Knowing how it handles when you lose control means you know what to do next time. Going through mud that makes your ATV dirty for the next three days means you will know what to do when you encounter something similar in the future.

Further, if you keep getting stuck in the mud, you will learn what not to do when driving through a large pool of mud. Eventually, your experience will mean you are simply playing in the mud, not getting stuck, and not always just looking for a maniac all the time.

This is where the best parts of owning an ATV comes in. Once you know what you are doing, and you know how to drive your ATV with all its ins and outs, you can go on to do things that very few can do.

When you then get caught in a rainstorm, or the mood hits you to go out and explore the world with rain everywhere, you won’t have unnecessary surprises. Instead, you’ll find yourself enjoying every single moment of it, letting go of the fear you had before and seeing the world in a new way. Because, while driving through the world with sun and shine is fun, there is a difference in how you experience it in the rain.

When it rains and you get to drive around in your ATV, you learn a few valuable things, one of them being that rain hurts when it hits at any speed above 10mph.

The second is that any sand road is now a dirt road of pure enjoyment, giving you the power to easily play and spray things like never before. Using your ATV in the rain is one of the purest joys of owning one, but there is a secret to playing with it in the rain

What few people will tell you

When you go out into the rain and enjoy the water in its entirety there is one thing that will eventually happen, you will hurt your ATV. There might be a hidden hole in the mud that you don’t see, or you might misjudge how big a hole is. It will happen. While ATVs are made for roughhousing and uncontrollable playing, they are still limited.

When you are still learning how to handle your ATV, you will hurt a few joints, maybe even break a few wheels. This is all entirely okay; ATVs are made to be easy to fix, specifically to let people abuse them and then get them fixed. No ATV owner has ever not broken some part of their vehicle while playing with it properly. When you are going through places where few other vehicles are even capable of getting, then there are some risks involved.

When you are taking your ATV out into the rain, then you are pushing it to its absolute limits, getting it wet with more water than the manufacturer could have ever imagined. Add onto that the mud and sand that your vehicle will be covered in; then you know that it will be impossible to keep it in the perfect condition. The good news is that this is perfectly normal and most ATV owners learn quickly how to make fixes, or figure out what exactly is wrong with their vehicle when it stops working for some reason.

This is part of the fun of owning these vehicles, they let you break a few things without ever sacrificing the fun you could have. You will learn what makes your ATV tick, what makes it go slightly faster, and what it can’t handle at certain times. This is how you will learn whether or not using your ATV in the rain will break it or simply cause it to have a few issues.

The answer to the question lies in that, no single ATV is the same as any other. When your ATV is brand new then it can easily handle a lot more abuse than something a lot older. However, if you have been taking care of your ATV day in and day out, then it might be more robust than something new.

When you take your ATV out into the rain, the only way of knowing if it will be perfectly fine is by doing it. You might find that it barely cares, or that it could be susceptible to the elements. There are a few ATVs that won’t care at all, these would be larger ATVs used in sports and races that have snorkels, bigger engines and drivers that simply don’t have to care that much.

These drivers are usually moving at extreme speeds in their ATVs and can easily handle anything that may come up. While larger ATVs that have four seats can be used in some extreme ways, they are limited when used in water; this is because their engine layout is similar to a car. Unless a snorkel has been fitted to these, they can shut down due to water getting inside the engine.

Quad bikes are legendary when it comes to their ability to cross water, because they can easily move fast without losing control. This is why you need to know exactly what your ATV can handle. It might just be made to go and play in the rain, which means it won’t even notice the water.

Riding an ATV in the rain depends on which kind of ATV you have.


Whether it’s your first experience with your ATV in the rain or you’re a pro at it, you should always ensure that you stay safe and that do what’s needed to help protect your ATV from any unnecessary damage that can be avoided.

Happy off-roading in the rain!

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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