ATV Battery Voltage Guide: How to Choose the Best Voltage


Understanding the way a quad battery works is essential to keeping your 4-wheeler in peak condition. Today I will share with you everything you need to know about ATV battery voltage, from the correct values for a healthy battery to other factors that can affect your battery’s performance.

In general, all quad batteries are categorized as 12V, but in reality ATV battery voltage ranges between 12.6V and 13.1V depending on the type and model. If the voltage is under 11.8V, it means that either one of the cells is dead or the battery is extremely sulfated and needs changing. If the voltage reads more than 13.1V, the battery has extra charge that can be a sign of problems with your alternator. Making sure that the voltage is accurate to the ATV’s needs is essential, but the true distinction between batteries is made by amperage. When acquiring a new ATV battery, you need to check for CA (Cranking Amp), CCA (Cold Cranking Amp), and AH (Amp Hour) as well. These indicators tell you how powerful your battery is, how well it will perform in cold temperatures and its longevity on the trails.

As you can see, both battery voltage and amperage have a direct impact on your quad’s performance. Keep on reading for my full guide to ATV batteries: from correctly interpreting voltage and amperage stats to checking the voltage without going to a mechanic.

ATV Battery Voltage

Buying quality parts for your ATV and maintaining them in peak condition will make your off-roading experience that much better. When it comes to your quad’s battery, this fundamental part of the machine can have irreparable effects on your engine and electrical components.

It’s essential to check your ATV battery voltage from time to time so that you do not permanently damage your quad with a faulty charge. Depending on your battery type, some maintenance might be necessary as well, so make sure you read the product descriptions before buying.

In order to maintain a healthy voltage on your battery for as long as possible, it’s also important to charge it correctly even when it’s not used. I recommend you read this article about winterizing your ATV where I talk in-depth about charging your battery when you are storing your ATV away for winter.

Unfortunately, many beginners don’t know all the intricacies of keeping your ATV battery healthy and run into bigger problems when they finally get to a mechanic. Not to worry, I am here to give you all my wisdom and make you a quad battery pro!

Is ATV Battery 6 or 12 Volt?

ATV on grass

Most ATVs are powered by 12 Volt batteries, whether these are flooded batteries, absorbed glass mat (AGM), or gel cell varieties. This voltage system is common in automobiles and motorcycles as well, and it works best for the amount of power a vehicle needs.

Some electrical systems offer the possibility of pairing two 6 volt batteries to allow better amperage, however this is not possible on an ATV. Mainly because batteries tend to be heavy components and this would affect the overall off-road experience.

All this being said, there are some exceptions to this rule, namely kids ATVs. Four wheelers that are made specifically for toddlers (18months to 4 years old) do not require the same amount of power as a regular quad. Not to mention that a 12V battery simply wouldn’t fit on an ATV made for children. 6V batteries are still widely used for other off-road vehicles, such as golf carts, scooters, and e-bikes.

How Many Amps is a 4-wheeler Battery?

Even though ATV battery voltage is somewhat the same for all quads, this is not the case when it comes to amperage. Not all 4-wheeler batteries have the same amount of Amps, and not all Amp values are the same. When you buy a new ATV battery, you need to look at three features: CA (Cranking Amp), CCA (Cold Cranking Amp), and AH (Amp Hour).

The first value determines the number of amperes a battery delivers at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The second one measures the number of amperes as well, only measured at colder temperatures of 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Generally speaking, a larger number both for CA and CCA are preferable.

If you live in areas with extreme cold temperatures, then CCA is highly important for you. When looking for your next battery, make sure that the CCA value is over 300, but preferably over 500. On the other hand, if you do not experience very cold winters where you live, then CCA will not matter as much.

AH (Amp Hour) is arguably the most important specification to take into account. This measure tells you the continuous power of your battery over time. For instance, 50AH means that the battery can deliver 5 amperes continuously for 10 hours. Unless you barely use your ATV from time to time, I recommend you choose a high AH value as well.

Personally, when I buy a new battery I mostly look at AH and cycle life, since the weather is not a big concern for me. Cycle life tells you how many complete charges your battery can take before it needs to be changed. Again, the higher the number, the better the value.

You might also want to check out this article I wrote about how to patch ATV tires on the go.

How Do I Check the Voltage on my ATV Battery?

carry passengers

A battery that constantly delivers lower or higher voltage than needed can lead to serious damage over time for your quad. Checking the voltage on your ATV battery regularly is a good way to prevent more expensive issues in the long term. All you will need to do this is a digital voltmeter. You can get an Etekcity Digital Multimeter for less than $15 on Amazon.

There are a few steps that you need to follow:

  1. Start off with your ATV turned off.
  2. Take off the positive and negative terminal covers. Before attaching the voltmeter, make sure there is no corrosion on the terminals. Wipe them off if needed.
  3. Attach the positive lead of the voltmeter to the positive lead of the battery, then do the same for the negative ones.
  4. Check the number on the screen and determine if there is an issue. (check below for values)
  5. Charge your battery to make sure that low voltage is not caused by undercharging.
  6. Remove the leads, add the terminal covers back, and you will be done with your testing.

If you have a conventional battery, the sweet spot for your voltage is between 12.6 and 12.8V. Anything under means your battery is suffering from sulfation that can potentially be salvaged. If the voltage is under 11.8V, then you need to go and buy yourself a new battery, there is nothing to be done. For extra voltage, try to drain it by turning on the high beams. If you do not see a change afterward, this can be an indication of problems with your alternator.

If you have an AGM battery, then the normal range of voltage is between 12.8 and 13.1V. If you see anything lower or higher than that, I recommend you go to a mechanic for their recommendations. Keep in mind that a battery can only last between 2 to 4 years, so sometimes you just have to let it go before it hurts your engine.

Bob Kelly

Hey there, my name is Bob and I've been riding ATVs, dirt bikes, and UTVs for most of my life. Going on outdoor adventures has always been my passion. I love sharing tips and tricks with beginners who are getting ready to join the world of outdoor enthusiasts. You can reach me at bobtheatvguy@gmail.com if you want to get in touch.

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