Buying a quad bike

If you’re buying a quad bike for work purposes you have a duty to ensure that it is without risks to the health and safety of anyone using it.[1]

Buying a quad bike new ensures you receive the full manufacturer’s warranty and support. If you‘re buying a quad bike second-hand, you should satisfy yourself that you know exactly what you’re getting for your money. This especially applies if it’s being sold in an ‘as is’ condition. You want to avoid any nasty surprises down the track that might cost you money or even serious harm from an accident.

Try to find out the history of the vehicle.

A genuine service and maintenance record is a good indication that the quad bike has been well taken care of. It also pays to check the manufacturers’ website for information around safety recalls for that  model.

Assess if the quad bike you are considering works properly, is safe and fit for purpose. If you can’t make this assessment yourself take someone along with you who knows about quad bikes or ideally ask a mechanic. Don’t be fooled by first impressions. A quad bike that looks a bit rough on the outside could be mechanically sound.

Similarly, a tidy looking quad bike could have been mechanically neglected but cleaned up for sale.

What to check when buying a quad

When buying a quad bike it is important to ride the bike to check that it feels ok. Also get someone else to ride it so you can watch to see any faults you may not pick up when riding it yourself.

Ask the owner to ride it. This may give an indication of how it has been ridden previously. If they speed on rough ground or broadside to a stop while you’re watching, that’s probably how it has been treated all along.

Things to check:

Electrics

  • Check all the electric features on the bike work.

Wheels

  • Check for damaged rims as this can suggest the bike has had its share of knocks and bumps.
  • Ensure all the wheel nuts are there. If there is wear or rust around them this will probably mean the quad has been used with loose wheel nuts at some point and the wheel studs could be weakened.
  • Check the tyres for wear and damage, and if any repairs have been made.
  • Check the tyres have the same tread pattern and are the same size.
  • Check tyre pressures against the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Axles and steering

  • Check for true running of fixed rear axle quad bikes. Try riding on a smooth surface. If you feel some up and down movement from the saddle this could mean the axle is bent, which could mean it has been rolled at some point.
  • Check for loose steering joints and excessive bearing or suspension link movement. To do this, grab each wheel in turn and try to shake it. Hold the handlebars and turn side to side, any slack or knocking sound will indicate wear and tear.
  • Check that Cv boots are not torn or perished.

Brakes

  • Check that the front and rear, (hand and foot) brakes work properly. Ride the quad to test them. You shouldn’t need to use excessive force for them to work.
  • Check the parking brake works effectively on a hill.

Bodywork

  • Significant damage to the bodywork or seat could indicate it has been ridden hard, or crashed.
  • Check the bash plates under the engine and axles to see if they have been damaged.
  • Check the carriers and their mountings. Any sign of damage means the quad may have been overloaded in the past.
  • Check the tow-hitch if it has one. Any wear and tear or looseness there may indicate a lack of maintenance.
  • Ask if the quad bike has been in an accident, and if it has ask: when, what happened and who repaired it.
  • Check the quad bike frame for repairs or rust.

Engine and gearbox

  • Check the engine runs smoothly.
  • Ride the quad on a slope to check the gearbox works ok, and doesn’t jump out of gear or run away at low revs going downhill.

Buying a quad online

If you can’t examine the quad before you buy it, (eg if you are buying over the internet), check the feedback posted by other people who have dealt with the seller as this should give an indication of how honest they are.

When buying online always remember to ask questions about the history and condition of the quad. It also pays to ask for the vehicle identification number (VIN) to confirm the quad is not stolen property.

For more information on vIN’s visit the New Zealand Transport Agency website.

Selling your quad bike

If you’re selling your quad bike to someone who is going to use it for work, you have obligations under the law.[2] This requires you to ensure that the quad bike is without risks to the health and safety of the person you are selling it to, so far as is reasonably practicable. The only exception to this is if the bike is sold ‘as is’. Any risks would then be borne by the buyer.

When selling you must:

  • tell the buyer whether or not the quad has been in an accident and if it has when it was, what happened, and who repaired the bike
  • point out to the buyer any mechanical faults to enable them to be fixed before the quad bike is used for work
  • provide the buyer with all the relevant information you have, eg the owner’s manual and maintenance records or invoices.

Not doing so could leave people guessing about the bike’s real condition and you might find it harder to sell (or have to accept a lower price). As well as being a legal obligation it’s also the decent thing to do.