What Is The Best Time of Year To Buy An ATV

I’ve recently been getting the itch to buy a new ATV since mine is several years old now and the wife wants her own as well.  Not that there’s anything wrong with the one I have now, by any means, but there’s just nothing like the feeling of a new machine to get you excited about running new trails or climbing steeper slopes.

Sure, I could probably just make a few enhancements to the one I have now, but after thinking about it for a while, i’ve decided that getting another one is the way i’ll go.  I’ve got an older quad that i’ll be selling and i’ll use that money to put towards the new one. That said, i’ve been looking online to see what’s available and while i’m excited to pull the trigger, i’m also not going to pay any more than I have to.  I’m a pretty frugal guy and i’m willing to wait for the right price – I won’t be doing anything rash. I can research until i’m blue in the face, but if i’m buying at the wrong time, there won’t be a deal to be had. That’s what i’m after – a deal!

What is the best time of year to buy an ATV?

The best time of year to buy a new ATV is when the demand is low and the supply is high.  This happens as the next year models are arriving at the dealerships, but yet, they still have old inventory that needs to be sold.  Typically this happens in the fall starting in October and goes into the new year. If possible, you’ll also want to go at the tail end of the month since dealerships are more willing to reduce prices or make concessions they wouldn’t normally make.

Think of your high school economics class where you learned the simple concept of supply and demand.  The worse scenario (from the consumer standpoint) is to buy when demand is high (everybody wants it) and supply is low (dealers can’t keep it in stock), so the opposite scenario is what you’re after – low demand (current year/last year) and high supply (a dealer who has several in inventory).  This is when you’re most likely to get the best deal.

So how do you find these dealerships?

5 Tips To Find A Dealership With Old Inventory

That i’m aware of, there is no tool that will tell you the age of every machine in a dealers inventory, it’s just not in a dealers best interest to make something like that available to their customers but there are a few things you can do to see how flexible a dealer is on their pricing.

  1. Online – this is where all research usually starts now a days and buying a large purchase such as an quad should be no different.  Collect a list of all the dealers within a 100 mile radius from you. You’ll find that ATV dealerships aren’t as plentiful as car dealerships are, so you might find yourself driving a bit to get one.  Once you’ve made the list, see who is offering the best price on your particular model. Get the top 3 dealerships and go visit them in person to make a deal.
  2. The drive-by – if you have an ATV/UTV dealership that you frequently drive past, keep your eyes peeled to see if they’ve had a particular model on their showroom floor for a while.  Take the time to walk in and ask about their inventory and be direct and confident. If you’re flexible with the type of quad you can buy then ask your salesman which models they are most willing to negotiate on.  I’ve found that the vast majority of salesmen are good, honest people that will go out of their way to get you into the right quad at a good price.
  3. Phone Call – in the past when i’ve purchased a new quad, i’d call around to several dealers to see how flexible they would be on pricing.  Many times they’d give me the same line as always “if you’re serious about buying an ATV/UTV then come in the store and we’ll make a deal” but i’d stand my ground and let them know that I had limited time, I didn’t want to be driving hours just to get an over-inflated price when I got there and also that I was ready to pull the trigger for the right deal.  If the dealership was a few hours away from me, i’d use that as ammo as well. You’d be surprised at how many dealers are willing to “work a deal” over the phone. One piece of advice, if you like what you hear from a salesman, get all the details of the deal in an email. The last thing you want is to drive for hours just to have them change things around.  How do I know? It’s happened to me!
  4. Niches – I live in Chicago where the winters are long and summers are short.  If I were looking to purchase a boat, i’d look at dealerships who sell boats as an addition to the other niches they sell in.  If their business is primarily selling ATV’s, motorcycles, snowmobiles and they happen to sell boats, then maybe sales weren’t all that great this year and they may want to unload some other their inventory for less than anticipated.  Warmer climates might have an easier time finding these dealerships where they primarily sell boats and motorcycles and fewer ATV’s. It’s worth a shot if you ask me.

How To Negotiate An ATV Purchase?

Negotiating the purchase of a new ATV doesn’t have to be a daunting experience.  I’ve actually found the opposite to be true – salesmen are more honest, transparent and courteous than ever before.  I think it’s because there is such a huge push for customer satisfaction surveys that if they don’t get all “5 Stars” then the dealership gets penalized.  

I also don’t believe that getting the rock bottom price is the definition of the best “deal”, most consumers are looking for the best value.  As an example, I purchased a car about two years ago and I ended up paying almost $1,500 more because the dealership was very local to my house, they threw in a lifetime of car washes and oil changes and mostly because I trusted the salesman I was dealing with.  

Very rarely do I find that I make large purchases based solely on price, but, at the cost of sounding contradictory, I will always ask for just a bit more than I think I can get.  Afterall, if you don’t ask, you don’t get, right?

One last thing i’ll mention before going into negotiating is that ATV dealerships don’t get better pricing on quads if they sell more inventory.  In fact, the last dealership I did business with is actually a smaller shop and they do well. The incentive the dealerships do have is that they get year end kickbacks from the manufacturers based on their annual sales.  Polaris does this and so do other manufacturers. On top of this, dealers get kickbacks on the accessories they sell which is why they’ll push winches, plows, storage boxes, etc., etc.

Ok enough said.

So here’s how I go about negotiating:

OTD – you’ll want to keep a consistent baseline when comparing prices so the easiest way to do this is the “Out The Door” (OTD) price.  If you don’t then you’ll be comparing some quotes with taxes and fees included and others that don’t have them included. Obviously this will throw things off and will skew the numbers.

Shotgun or Laser Approach – are you willing to be a bit flexible with your purchase or do you know exactly which model you want?  Either way is absolutely okay, but you’ve got to decide one way or another. Having some flexibility can get you more options to choose from, especially when it comes to the older models where the dealer wants them off their floor.  Being laser focused just means you’ve got to do more leg work and research up front so you don’t spin your wheels with dealerships that aren’t willing to negotiate.

Befriend – Sales tactics have evolved over the years and the “hard close” doesn’t work anymore.  Sales is all about connecting and building rapport so the first step in negotiating a great deal on a new ATV is to make a new friend.  Make him/her feel obligated to get you the best deal possible, after all, you wouldn’t screw over one of your best friends would you?

Leverage – shop prices to see who is willing to be most flexible then approach your top two dealerships and try to leverage one dealerships terms against the other.  If they really want to make a sale they will match the others terms. The dealership I bought my last ATV from has been in business since the 70’s and I just found out that dealerships from other states call them asking why they don’t increase their prices.  Um, maybe that’s why they’ve been in the business since the 70’s – because they provide genuinely good service and their prices are very competitive. I’m lucky that they are only 30 miles away from me.

Cash or Finance – cash isn’t always king and sometimes the ATV/UTV dealer has extra incentives to sell you some financing.  If you can make sense of financing the deal to make the pot a bit sweeter then do it, you can always pay off the loan earlier and as of right now, rates are low!

Freight and Set-Up – in my experience, this is an absolute BS fee that is just extra money in the dealership’s pocket.  At most it should only be about $150 total and any dealership will waive it if they know you are going to walk because of it.  Push hard and don’t back off on this! My dealer doesn’t even charge them, but other dealerships definitely do.

The Extras – again, the final sales price isn’t everything.  A sale isn’t always based on the price of the ATV alone.  Think outside the box and ask for the salesman to throw in accessories which have high margins and can be easily included.  Some extras are winches, bumpers, and ramps, or you might even try some goggles, a helmet, or some boots.  These are all things you’ll need anyway to either haul your quad, or ride safely – you might as well consolidate everything into one bill and buy everything you need upfront!

Tax, Title, and Tags – or t,t,t for short.  Again, i’ll always ask for more than I think I can get but when the salesman and I arrive to the final number and it is very close to the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) and it is inclusive of the tax, title, and tags, it’s a good number to be at.

Be Willing to Walk – the past 4 times i’ve been in a dealership to buy either a car or quad i’ve been ready to walk if the dealership and I aren’t in the same ballpark, and they can tell that I’m serious.  When you go in to a dealership you either need to know exactly what you’re going to ask for on a specific model or know what your top dollar will be when you’re being flexible on the model.  

The last time I bought a car, the dealer told me they would give me $5,000 for my trade in but when they inspected my car to make sure it was really worth the $5k, they came back and said the tires were nearly bald and need to be replaced so they could only give me $4,500 (it was BS by the way).  I told the manager that if I didn’t get every penny of the $5k that I would get up and walk right now.

Needless to say, he kept his word and I drove off the lot with a new car.

The point is, the price can steadily go up here and there and you’ll find yourself constantly giving in as it does.  You’ve got to know when you’ve reached your ceiling and then speak up. Push back as much as possible because the dealership will always try to sell you what they have in stock today, not tomorrow.  You are in control and you never have to buy, but they always have to sell!

Items that Add To Total Cost Of Your ATV

Even if you live in a sales tax-free state, the total price of the ATV won’t be the sales price that the dealership is selling you the quad for.  Here are a few things to think about when signing on the dotted line. Some of these aren’t mandatory, but they should be.

Taxes, Title and Tag – this is required by all states though the percentages will vary.  Some states may not have a sales tax but transferring ownership to your name does have a cost associated with that and registering the plates will also come with a small fee (dealership doesn’t keep this)

Insurance – ATVs can go really fast, and with speed comes the potential for hazard.  This is why you’ll absolutely want to consider buying ATV insurance to keep you from being personally liable for accidents that occur while out on the trails/tracks.  The last thing you want is to hurt somebody, but being responsible for the bill can be crippling. Don’t put yourself in that situation. If you want to get an idea for what ATV insurance costs, you can check out my other blog post.

Trailer – you can’t ride this thing home from the dealership, nor can you ride it to the trails, so how will you get it there?  You’ll have to purchase a trailer to transport your new toy and i’d recommend you size up. It’s always easier to buy a second quad when you’ve already purchased one.  The kids or spouse will eventually want one after they start having fun with yours as well. For that reason, having one longer one is better than having two short ones.

Gear – you always want to think about safety first.  Don’t ride off the lot without getting at least some goggles and a good helmet because those are the true essentials.  After that, you can get gloves and boots as needed and then a chest and neck protector to be completely cautious.

All in all, buying a new ATV should be a fun experience and with a little common sense and some sternness, you’ll be the proud owner of a new machine that will give you a lot of thrill and put many smiles on your face.  If you’re ready to purchase a machine now but all you see is current year models then just go ahead and make a deal, when I buy a new quad, i just want to know that I got a good deal on “that one” and i’m happy.

Good luck!

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