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Buying a new ATV for your farm?

The purchase decision-making process for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) isn't a lot different than a lot of other machines on the farm. They're purpose-driven machines, and that's the utmost concern when you're looking to buy. Then again, there are a lot more options that you may or may not need, but that are eye-catching and can draw you away from the real purpose of a good ATV on the farm.

"Looking for the spec sheet is probably one of the first things I do when shopping for these," says Iowa State University Extension ag engineer Mark Hanna. There's a lot of variety among utility and sport/utility ATVs, and walking into the dealership with a clear purpose for that machine in mind is key to making the right decision. Hanna recommends finding out the following specific information early on in the process when looking at different machines:

  • Size

  • Weight

  • Power

  • Payload capacity

  • Energy use

"These types of things should be in the specs sheet. If you're trying to find an answer about something like this and it's not there, it's worth following up with questions," Hanna says. "This is all important information to know about the kinds of jobs it will do."

Once you have these basic practicalities nailed down, Hanna recommends thinking about accessories, of which there are many for ATVs, from safety equipment to things Hanna says qualify more as "toys." Regardless of what you're thinking about adding to your new machine, look at the cost to do so initially versus as an after-market add-on later on.

"How costly is picking up that feature on this particular product? Maybe it's something that could be added later on without a whole lot of additional cost," he says. "If you're not totally sure at the moment you're buying it, if you may or may not need it, it may not be as costly to retrofit later. Just because the feature's there, you don't always need it, though.

"I'm not against spending money on the 'toy' stuff, but make a conscious decision. Two different people will always make 2 different decisions," he adds.

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