Best Way to Push Start an Automatic ATV

Whether you are dealing with a bad starter or your automatic ATV‘s battery died, it’s critical to know how to push start the quad. The method is also called “bump starting” and it’s used when a four-wheeler’s electric starter system fails.

The best way to push start an automatic ATV is on a downhill slope. You need to keep the key in the “on” position and the gear in neutral. Once the ATV is pushed downhill and it starts catching some speed, you can put it in second gear and the engine will start. There is also an easier alternative method, but you need a second vehicle. You can tow the ATV to get it to the required speed to push start.

Learning how to push start automatic ATVs is a handy skill to have. However, there are some things you need to keep in mind when doing this so that the engine and battery don’t get damaged. Keep reading to find out more.

Can Automatic ATVs Be Push-Started?

A blue Yamaha Grizzly 2023 700 EPS SE

Let’s dive a bit deeper into whether you can push start an automatic ATV. It’s a common question that people who buy automatic ATVs ask and the answer isn’t always straightforward. Most automatic ATVs are designed differently from their manual counterparts, lacking a clutch that facilitates the push-start process in manual vehicles. However, this doesn’t mean it’s entirely off the table. Some newer models of automatic ATVs come with features that might allow for push starting under certain conditions. It’s crucial to understand your specific model’s capabilities. If your ATV’s manual doesn’t outright dismiss the possibility, there might be a way, but it usually requires more effort and a bit of know-how. However, there are two creative methods to push start your automatic ATV even if it lacks the special feature.

Adding to that, it’s important to consider the mechanics involved in push starting an automatic ATV. These vehicles typically use a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which operates differently from the manual transmission systems. In a CVT, the connection between the engine and the wheels doesn’t rely on gear engagement in the same way as in manual systems. This means that getting the engine to turn over by pushing the vehicle might not be as effective or straightforward. Before attempting to push start, it’s wise to assess the situation: Do you have enough manpower and a safe environment to attempt this without causing harm to yourself or the ATV? Remember, safety first!

How to Push Start an Automatic ATV (Step by Step Guide)

As previously mentioned, push starting an automatic ATV is not easy. Luckily, there are two methods to help you get this done:

On a Downhill Slope

  1. Check Your ATV’s Manual: Before you do anything, check your ATV’s manual. It might have specific instructions or warnings about push starting.
  2. Find a Safe Spot: Make sure you’re in a safe area to attempt a push start. You’ll need a bit of a downhill slope to get the momentum going.
  3. Turn On the Ignition: Turn the key to the ‘on’ position.
  4. Shift to Second Gear: If your ATV allows, shift it to second gear.
  5. Get Some Help: Push starting an ATV is not a one-person job. Get a couple of friends to help push.
  6. Push and Jump On: Once you’ve got some speed, hop on the ATV and try to start it as you normally would.

Towing the ATV with Another Vehicle

ATV winched next to a tree

If you just don’t have any hills around or enough pushing power to get you on top of one, you can always try to tow the ATV with another vehicle.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you do it safely and effectively:

  1. Prepare for Towing: First, you’ll need another vehicle, like a car or another ATV with torque, that’s capable of towing your ATV. Make sure you have a sturdy tow rope or strap that’s in good condition. Attach one end of the rope to the towing vehicle and the other to the front of your ATV. It’s crucial to attach the rope to a secure point on your ATV that’s designed to handle such stress.
  2. Safety Checks: Before starting, ensure that both vehicles are in a safe area, away from traffic or any obstacles. Both drivers should communicate clearly about the plan and signals to start and stop. Also, make sure that your ATV is in neutral before you begin towing.
  3. Start Towing: With your ATV in neutral, the driver of the towing vehicle should start moving slowly. The idea is to build up a little momentum, not to speed. A slow and steady pace is key here.
  4. Engaging the Gear: Once you’ve reached a steady, slow speed, try shifting your ATV into gear. It’s often recommended to try second gear first, as it can provide a good balance between torque and speed. Be gentle and smooth when you shift to avoid any jerky movements.
  5. Attempt to Start the ATV: As you engage the gear, turn the ignition to see if the ATV starts. It might take a few seconds, so be patient. If it doesn’t start on the first try, you may need to slightly increase your speed, but always keep safety in mind.
  6. Once Started, Disconnect Safely: If the ATV starts, signal the towing vehicle to stop. Do this gradually to avoid any sudden jerks. Once both vehicles are stationary, safely disconnect the tow rope.

Remember, this method should be used as a last resort and only if you’re confident in your ability to perform it safely. Towing involves risks, and it’s essential to prioritize safety for both the drivers and the vehicles involved. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with this process, seeking professional assistance is always the best course of action.

Is It Bad to Push Start Quads?

Argo Xplorer XRT 1000 LE showcasing its 2 person ATV features

While you can definitely push start quads if need be, there are some things you need to take into consideration. The primary issue with push starting these vehicles is the potential harm it can cause to the ATV’s transmission system. Automatic ATVs are designed with a transmission system that doesn’t take kindly to the sudden jolt and force associated with a push start. This abrupt action can lead to significant wear and tear or even immediate damage to the transmission components. Moreover, the electrical systems in ATVs are quite sophisticated, and forcing the engine to start without the proper electrical flow can lead to complications, potentially affecting the ATV’s long-term performance and reliability.

Additionally, there’s a safety aspect to consider. Push starting a quad requires a certain level of skill and understanding of the vehicle’s mechanics. If done incorrectly, it can pose a risk not only to the vehicle but also to the people involved in the process. For instance, if the ATV suddenly starts and accelerates unexpectedly, it could lead to loss of control, resulting in accidents or injuries. This is particularly true in environments where ATVs are commonly used, like uneven terrains or remote areas, where an accident could have serious consequences. Therefore, while push starting a quad might seem like a quick fix in a pinch, it’s important to weigh these risks against the immediate need and consider safer alternatives whenever possible.

Wrapping It Up

In conclusion, while push starting an automatic ATV might be possible in some cases, it’s not generally recommended due to the potential damage it can cause to your vehicle. Always check your ATV’s manual first and understand the risks involved. The best solution is to be prepared with a portable jump starter, a battery pack, or a spare battery. This way, you can enjoy your ATV adventures without the worry of being stranded with a dead battery. Remember, a little preparation goes a long way in ensuring a fun and safe ride every time.

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 if you want to get in touch.

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