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How To Drive a Quad – Best Tips and Practices

How To Drive A Quad

Driving a quad, also known as an ATV or a four-wheeler, is not too difficult, but there is a learning curve. Once the learning curve has been conquered, driving a quad is pretty simple. Keep in mind that ATVs are perfect for moderate off-road use, and driving in the sand or muddy areas. To find out how to drive a quad, continue reading.

Quads can seat up to four people and can have two steering modes: auto or manual. Auto, or power steering, is for beginners because it allows you to control your vehicle with very little effort. Manual mode requires you to follow the wheel with your hands; this allows you to have more control and helps you to weave through obstacles.

There are two-stroke quads and four-stroke quads. The two-stroke quads are probably more common in the United States than the four-stroke quads. They offer excellent fuel mileage and performance as compared to four-strokes. The two-stroke quads are smaller and less expensive than four-strokes, which is probably why they are so common.


ATVs, which are designed for off-road use, can reach speeds of over 60 mph. ATVs are not street legal and cannot be driven on paved roads or public highways. Before you get in the quad, make sure that you at least take along your cell phone to call 911 or a friend if something should go wrong.

If you feel that it is necessary or beneficial, take an ATV safety course to learn the ins and outs of ATV riding.

Familiarize Yourself With ATV Laws

Below is a bit of information on ATV laws (be sure to check the ATV laws for your state):

Most states require that ATV drivers be at least 16 years old, possess a valid driver’s license, and wear a DOT-approved helmet. Some states have additional requirements for ATV operators aged 16 to 18.

In addition to driver requirements, most states require all ATV operators to register their vehicles with the state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV). In many cases, an operator or owner must also possess a liability insurance policy covering personal injury and property damage arising from the use of an ATV.

Noise is a concern for certain people, as many off-road vehicles are loud when used in residential areas. Some states have regulations for noise levels, but in general, it is the responsibility of each operator to ensure that no decibel levels are excessively high or low when operating an ATV in areas where others live. Riding an ATV requires skill and practice, and it is vital that all riders follow all state rules and regulations. It is also important to maintain one’s ATV according to the manufacturer’s specifications. If you are thinking of purchasing a vehicle, be sure to do your research before making a final decision.

To find the specific ATV laws in your state, check out this resource.

How to Drive a Quad

Braking and Acceleration

Most ATVs have a thumb throttle – the ones that don’t have a twist throttle. Depending on the four-wheeler, operators can use either the brake handle or foot pedal to put on the brakes. Be sure to check out your vehicles manual or have an experienced friend help you. This will make everything a lot easier.

Drive and Reverse

The quad has two modes: Drive and Reverse. Use reverse to move backward or park. Obviously, drive is used to move forward.

As a general rule, when driving throughout hills, keep you bodyweight in a sensible direction (e.g. keep your body forward when going uphill). When turning, you want to lean into the turn with your body while smoothing turning the handle bars.

Going Over Rough Terrain

Keep in mind that the seat on a quad is relatively low to the ground, so when you go over a hill or a bump, it is best to slow down a little bit before cresting the hill or going over the bump. This will prevent you from flying over the handle bars. If this does happen however, try not to panic as it happens quite often (this is why you should never ride alone). If you are with someone else they can usually help out by pulling you back up on your seat. If you are alone, just hit the throttle and try to ride it out as it’s quite easy to flip over backwards in these situations.

When riding a quad (off-road), the throttle should be held down almost all of the time, except for when going downhill. When going downhill with a passenger, make sure that they hold on tightly. If they fall out, the quad could roll over. Make sure that you and your passenger are both wearing a helmet and protective gear at all times.

Four-Wheel Drive

If you opted for four-wheel drive and have a capable ATV, you should know when to use it. 4-wheel drive is great for rough terrain, driving through mud, or getting unstuck.

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TOP Tips on How to Drive a Quad

  • You need to have the right gear before you head out. Definatly wear eye protection and a helmet.
  • Watch your speed, and be cautious when riding alone.
  • Be mindful of hills, bumps, pedestrians, livestock and other obstacles such as sand pits that may stop an ATV in its tracks.
  • Watch for children and wildlife when driving near roads or walkways where they are often unaware of their surroundings.
  • Always wear gloves when riding to avoid blisters on hands and thumbs from gripping the handlebars too tightly.
  • If you are planning to go off-roading with your ATV, make sure that you have a 4-wheeler kit and winch just in case you need help getting out of tough spots.
  • Remember, SAFETY FIRST. Driving a quad has the potential to lead to injury, so always be mindful of that and drive responsibly.

Go Riding!

At the end of the day, having an experienced rider teach you is the best way to learn. That being said, doing a bit of research on how to drive a quad will be very helpful and allow you to learn faster. However, studying will only do so much; learning to drive an ATV takes physical practice.

After doing a bit of research, the best way to learn is to just go out and start riding (preferably with supervision).


Over the years, I have grown a passion for dirt biking and all the joys it brings. Now I want to share my knowledge with as many people as possible.

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