How to Turn Off an ATV (Beginner’s Guide)


Are you new to the mysterious and charming world of off-road enthusiasts? I’ve been there too, so I know how overwhelming it can get. Therefore, I decided to discuss a very controversial topic today: how to turn off an ATV. Keep on reading if you want to find out more about the proper way to turn off your quad, whether you are taking a break on the trails or you are parking your four-wheeler in the garage for the night.

You can turn your ATV off either by turning the ignition key or by using the kill switch on your handlebars. Most people use a combination of these two methods, depending on the reason they are turning their quad off. There is no right or wrong way to do it when it comes to this. Some people prefer to use the key as they believe it’s better for their ATV while others prefer to use the kill switch in order to avoid damaging the key. The general rule among quad-riders is to use the kill switch whenever you take a short break while riding and use the ignition key to kill the engine when you are parking your four-wheeler at the end of the day.

As you probably know by now, there are two ways to turn off an ATV. You can turn it off by turning the ignition key just like you would do if you were driving a car, or you can use the kill switch conveniently located on your handlebars. Let’s find out which method is better and when it is advised to use each one.

How to Turn Off an ATV:

A couple sitting on an ATV looking at the sunset

The Key Method:

Many quad riders state that they always use their key when it comes to turning their ATV off, whether they are putting the beast to sleep in the garage after a tiresome ride or pausing for a few minutes to breathe in the fresh air in the wilderness. But how does this affect the well-being and the lifespan of your four-wheeler?

Well, technically, no way is better than the other. Choosing one method over the other is mostly a matter of preference. However, most off-road amateurs prefer to use the kill switch to turn their machine off during the day, when they are out on the trails and then use the key to kill it once they’ve parked it in the garage. The only reason behind that is the fact that keys are pretty fragile and quite pricey, so it may be better to turn the keyless often in order to spare yourself the trouble and the expense of having to change it.

Are you new to ATVs? If you are just getting started, safety should always be the top priority. Wearing the right type of gear can make the difference between having fun while riding on the trail or getting hurt. Make sure to get an ATV helmet that can keep you safe at all times. 

The Kill Switch Method (+ how ATV kill switches work) 

So, what exactly is a kill switch? A kill switch, also known as an emergency power off (EPO), is a safety mechanism designed for switching off the power of a machine abruptly. This mechanism was created to be used in emergency situations, so unlike other shut-down procedures which turn down all power, a kill switch will quickly interrupt the circuit that sends electricity towards the engine, helping you cut down speed and avoid an accident. The kill switch is activated either by pushing or pulling it.

Usually, a kill switch is located on the left handlebar so that you can easily access it without letting go of the handlebars. A kill switch is a must-have on any four-wheeler, as it protects not only you but your loved ones as well. If you have kids running around and playing with everything, a kill switch is definitely something you should have installed on your quad.

Do you want to understand better how an ATV kill switch works? I wrote a full guide that showcases the best ways to use a kill switch in order to make ATVs last longer. I have also included the top 3 best kill switches on the market.

As I said before, many riders use the kill switch on their quad to turn it off, whether they feel it’s more convenient or think it’s better for their machine. In the end, it’s a matter of preference as the kill switch and key ignition switch are part of the same circuit, so it is basically the same thing. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind if you plan on turning your four-wheeler off by using the kill switch:

  • Double-check to make sure all power is off;

Even after you used the kill switch on your machine, there may be some systems that are left running and that will probably drain your battery so make sure your ignition is off before parking your quad.

  • Take good care of your kill switch;

Kill switches need maintenance too. Make sure you open it up once in a while and clean the assembly in order to avoid corrosion.

 Why Won’t My 4-Wheeler Shut Off?

It may sound a bit odd, but being unable to shut off your four-wheeler is more common than you’d think. Even if in this situation it would be best to see a specialist, I am going to share with you the most common causes your quad won’t shut off. All you need is a multimeter, a test light, and a lot of patience.

  • Check the ground wires for corrosion and to see if they are properly connected;

Start by inspecting the ground wires as they are probably the easiest part to fix. They are easy to access and inexpensive.  After you check if all the connectors are correctly fastened, look closely for any sign of corrosion and if you find something, make sure you carefully clean the area.

  • There may be a problem with the Capacitor Discharge Ignition (CDI);
  • Make sure the ignition wires are intact;
  • Make sure the kill switch and the ignition key system work properly.

Final Words

When it comes to choosing a method to turn off your ATV, in my opinion, you should choose whatever way works best for you. Whether you decide to use the kill switch more often or, on the contrary, the ignition key, it will have little to no impact on the lifetime of your quad whatsoever. If you are looking for a reliable ATV that will last decades, you should check out this article where I highlight the most reliable ATVs in 2022.

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.

Recent Posts