How to Steer an ATV: A beginner-friendly guide

Are you planning on buying or renting an ATV for your outdoor adventures? If you are new to this exciting world of quads and looking to have tremendous fun riding them while also remaining safe, you came to the right place. I am going to tell you all you need to know about how to steer an ATV.

There are a few steps you need to follow when steering a four-wheeler on the trails:

  • Keep the correct position when you ride an ATV: relaxed shoulders with the elbows slightly bent, hands on the handlebars, feet on the footrests, and knees leaned in towards the gas tank;
  • Slow down before you approach a corner in order to have time to execute the maneuvers correctly;
  • Move your body weight forward and lean in towards the turn to keep the quad’s balance;
  • Steer the quad by turning the handlebars and keep looking in the direction of the turn.

I’ve learned the hard way that steering an ATV is one of the most important techniques you have to master before starting to ride your quad on the trails. Otherwise, you are more likely to cause an accident by not being able to avoid obstacles. Besides that, after you get the hang of it, steering is one of the most fun things you can do while riding a four-wheeler. I am going to share with you my tips and tricks, so keep on reading to find out all about steering your quad while remaining safe.

infographic showing how to steer an ATV

How to Steer an ATV?

The first thing you need to take care of is your posture while riding. Make sure you keep your head up, and you look forward. Keep your shoulders relaxed with the elbows bent slightly and your hands on the handlebars in order to easily access the handbrakes or make a turn if you need to. Your feet should be positioned on the footrests with your toes pointing straight ahead and your knees leaning in towards the gas tank. Keeping the correct position while riding is essential and can help you quickly shift your weight when necessary or reach the controls easily.

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If you have ever ridden a motorcycle, you should catch the drift about how to steer a quad pretty fast. When you are riding your ATV, and you reach a turning point, start by concentrating to slow down before entering the corner. By slowing down before steering your quad, you decrease the risk of having an accident. If you enter a turn too fast, you can cause your ATV to slide out of the trail, causing a wreck. Once you have slowed down, move your body weight forward and lean in towards the turn in order to keep the balance over that side. Then, steer your quad with the help of the handlebars while looking in the direction of the turn.

Have you ever considered riding a dirt bike? If that is the case, you should check out this article where I present the “must know” tips & tricks for riding bikes.

How Do I Control My ATV?

The first step towards having full control of your ATV is getting your posture right. Keeping your hands on the handlebars guarantees that you are ready at any time to make a turn and avoid an obstacle. Keeping your back straight and your head up looking forward ensures you have full stability and full sight of the trail while riding. Last but not least, keeping your shoulders relaxed enables you to lean in easily while steering your quad, therefore keeping the balance and avoiding a possible flip.

What Should You Not Do with an ATV?

There are a couple of things you should never do while riding an ATV, safety-wise. Most of them are mistakes any beginner makes when riding his first quad, but some of them can really put your life in danger. Before riding an ATV on the trails, make sure you take all the safety precautions: read the manufacturer’s manual, don’t ride it under the influence of substances, and avoid riding it on paved roads, as four-wheelers are designed especially for off-road.

Some of the most common mistakes when steering an ATV include maintaining a straight position while turning or worse, leaning in the opposite direction, destabilizing the quad. This can make the quad flip, causing serious injuries to the rider as well as the quad. Also, when taking turns, keep your feet positioned on the footrests, and don’t lower your foot down on the ground for stability. This can cause ejection if your foot gets caught by the tire.

As a general rule, when riding an ATV, make sure you don’t do any of the following:

  • Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • Don’t drive it on paved roads;
  • Don’t enter corners too fast;
  • When taking turns, don’t lean in the opposite direction of the turn;
  • Keep your feet on the footrests, and don’t lower your foot on the ground for stability.

If you have an easier time learning from video instructions, you can take a look at the YouTube video I linked below.

How Do I Know if My Four-Wheeler Has Power Steering?

Electronic power steering (EPS) was a huge hit when it was first launched in 2006 by Yamaha, but it comes with an extra cost. Since then, many other manufacturers have introduced this feature in most of their models. However, to this day, there still are ATVs without power steering, so don’t be surprised if your quad doesn’t have the system installed.

If your ATV has electronic power steering, you will be able to tell by the ease with which the quad’s wheels are turning. A four-wheeler with the EPS feature will be easier to ride and turn on the trails and will make you feel in control. Just like driving a car without power steering, you can still ride an ATV with just a little determination and some strong muscles. However, don’t worry too much about this. If you prefer a lighter driving experience with less effort put into it, you can add an EPS kit to your ATV.

Power steering is so useful that I even wrote an article presenting the top 3 best UTVs with this feature. Check it out here!

Final Words

In my opinion, no one should ride a quad before learning all about how to steer it. It takes a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it, you will become a master on the trails. Don’t forget to keep the correct posture at all times while riding as this is the most important thing in order to avoid injuries.

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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