ATV Engine Buying Guide

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ATV Engine Buying Guide

The triumphant feeling of conquering rough terrain has inspired many people to buy an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). These off-road vehicles usually come with four wheels, spawning synonymous names, such as quads and four-wheelers. However, there are ATVs that have three or even six wheels. ATVs come in a variety of types: mini, entry-level, utility, sports, and sports-utility.

Each type of ATV has a unique engine that determines the kind of driving that best suits the vehicle. The main types of engines are the two-stroke and four-stroke designs, each varying in its power per cycle. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with each design. There are a number of factors that buyers should consider before purchasing an ATV engine.

ATV engines can be bought from specialist retailers and online from marketplaces, such as eBay. Knowledge of the types of ATVs and their engines allows buyers to make a better choice when searching for a vehicle.

Overview of ATV Engines

The first ATV, produced by Honda in 1970, had only a two-stroke engine and 7 horsepower (hp). This primitive engine meant that riders were not able to benefit fully from the convenience and comfort of the vehicle. Since then, the performance of ATVs has improved greatly. Modern ATVs have engines of more than 50 hp.

In addition to the main types of engine: two-stroke and four-stroke, ATV engines can also be classified as air or liquid-cooled. They can also have single or multiple cylinders, which can be fuel-injected or carburetted. The displacement of ATV engines varies, and can be between 50 and 800 cubic centimetres. ATV engines can use a variety of power options, with petrol the leading option in larger vehicles. Smaller ATVs can be powered by electric motors or batteries, and some use diesel.

Two-Stroke vs. Four-Stroke ATV Engines

A single stroke inside an ATV engine processes the intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust phases. In a two-stroke engine, one complete cycle consists of the piston moving up once, then moving down once. In a four-stroke engine, the piston moves up, then down, and up, then down again, completing two cycles. The two-stroke variety has more power per cycle.

Two-stroke engines were invented before four-stroke engines, and they used to produce more emissions. However, modern technology allows manufacturers to produce environmentally friendly, two-stroke engines that are cleaner, with fewer emissions. Since they have more power per cycle, two-stroke engines produce more heat, and as a result may require more frequent maintenance and repairs than their four-stroke counterparts. However, repairing two-stroke engines is easier than repairing four-stroke engines as they are less complex devices. Recently manufactured two-stroke engines may provide more power and a higher power-to-weight ratio, but the majority of the ATVs on the market today are equipped with four-stroke engines.

Summary of Two-Stroke and Four-Stroke ATV Engines

The table below summarises the features of both two-stroke and four-stroke engines. It also provides information about the advantages and disadvantages of each type.

Type of Engine





Piston moves up once and down once, completing one cycle

More power per cycle

Higher power-to-weight ratio

Easier to repair

Older models produce more emissions

Not a popular choice amongst enthusiasts


Piston moves up once, then down, and up then down again, completing two cycles

Requires less maintenance

Clean and fewer emissions

Popular choice

Difficult to repair because of its complex set-up

Less powerful than its two-stroke counterpart

The table above is a quick reference guide for buyers that want to compare and contrast two-stroke and four-stroke engines. This information is helpful when deciding which type of ATV engine is required.

Types of ATVs

Each type of ATV requires a different type of engine size. Buyers can also choose additional engine features, such as liquid cooling. More advanced ATVs have special engine requirements due to their design. The different types of ATVs are mini, entry-level, utility, sports, and sports-utility.

Mini ATVs

Mini ATVs are targeted to a younger market. They are smaller, lighter, and less expensive than other types of ATV, and their engines are also smaller and less powerful. An exception is those that are used in the youth division of motocross. Mini ATVs for racing have more powerful engines and automatic transmission.

Entry-Level ATVs

Entry-level ATVs have larger and more powerful engines than mini ATVs, but as their name suggests, they still have a basic engine. They have a four-stroke engine that is air-cooled, and manual or automatic transmission. Entry-level ATVs require a gearstick, but do not have clutch. They have a full suspension system that supports and controls the front and back of the vehicle and is designed to carry an adult rider. However, entry-level ATVs are recommended for small to average-sized adults. Those with a heavier build should try the sports or utility varieties of ATV. Finally, entry-level ATVs are best used on flat roads with no obstacles because once they are driven on rough ground they may start to experience problems.

Utility ATVs

Utility ATVs are used mainly for work-related tasks around a farm, such as hauling, carrying supplies, manoeuvring equipment, and as a mode of transport. Riders that enjoy camping, fishing, and other outdoor pursuits can also make use of utility ATVs, especially in areas with damp ground. Utility ATVs are smaller than cars, so they also used in large parks and in areas that are too narrow for other vehicles.

Sports ATVs

Sports ATVs are known to be light and highly manoeuvrable, which make them the ultimate ATV for off-road adventures and high-speed racing. They do not have the most powerful engines, but make up for that with fast acceleration and the ability to travel on most inclines and types of terrain, which is why many riders use them for stunts and tricks. These activities should be left to professional, experienced riders only. In order to ride a sports ATV safely, it is recommended to have proper training and to wear safety gear always, such as goggles, helmets, boots, gloves, and a chest protector. In addition, wear long sleeves and long trousers.

Sports Utility ATVs

Sports utility ATVs offer both the thrill of a high-performance sports ATV with the practical functionality of a utility ATV. This type of off-road vehicle is versatile and is popular with ATV enthusiasts. Sports utility ATVs are usually four-wheel vehicles that have storage racks and a trailer hitch for hauling equipment. They have a powerful build and the speed capacity that is needed for off-road racing.

Continuously Variable Transmission

Modern ATVs can have a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which gives a rider peace of mind when changing gears manually. The ATV can shift automatically to the optimal gear ratio for speed and the amount of effort required for a particular task. ATVs with no CVT may have a foot-pedal or a handlebar gear shifter instead.

How to Buy an ATV Engine on eBay

eBay is a great place to buy vehicle parts and accessories, and it is possible to find an ATV engine for both two-stroke and four-stroke varieties. Regardless of which ATV you need an engine for, it is easy to search on the site. Enter keywords, such as "ATV engines" in the search bar on any page to get listings for the item that you are looking for. eBay also provides keyword suggestions that link items you may want. If you have a clear idea about the precise ATV engine that you wish to buy, then use the advanced search function to find a targeted list of products.

Read the Product Description

When buying on eBay it is important to read the product description carefully to ensure that you are ordering the exact item that you want. The seller should include the full details of the ATV engine. If the engine is used, then find out its age and whether it has sustained any wear or damage.

Top-Rated Sellers

It is also recommended to buy from Top-rated sellers because they have a reputation for providing excellent products, great deals, and good customer service. If any questions remain unanswered after reading the item description, then contact the seller directly by using the "Ask a question" link.


The driving experience provided by an ATV relies mostly on the vehicle's engine. This vital component comes in two types: two-stroke and four-stroke. The advantages of the two-stroke engine is that it offers more power per cycle, higher power-to-weight ratio, and is less complex in its construction, which makes it easier to repair. A four-stroke engine, on the other hand, is more environmentally friendly as it has fewer emissions, low maintenance, and is a popular choice amongst enthusiasts.

ATVs are available in many types: mini, entry-level, sports, utility, and sports utility. Each type requires an engine that is suited to its size and functionality. Therefore, it is important for buyers to identify which type of engine is needed before buying to ensure that they are equipping the vehicle correctly. When buying on eBay, read the item description carefully and pay attention to the delivery details. eBay sellers offer a variety of ATV engines for a range of vehicles.

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