Proper ATV battery storage is essential to preserve the battery’s expected lifespan and performance.
ATV batteries are prone to becoming damaged from less-than-ideal storage conditions due to their relatively small size and capacity and because many ATVs are typically used sporadically with lengthy storage periods.
The guidelines and tips in this post apply when the ATV is not used for two weeks or more or when you put it away for long-term storage.
Why Is Proper Battery Storage Important?
ATVs are typically left sitting for extended periods throughout the year. As many people, unfortunately, learn the hard way, putting the ATV in storage without making the necessary preparations and precautions is not good news for the battery.
To Prolong Battery Life
Properly storing your ATV battery ensures optimal service life, while improper storage can significantly reduce life expectancy.
To Maintain Optimal Battery Performance
Proper storage ensures the battery maintains optimal performance and capacity throughout its service life.
An improperly stored battery loses its ability to accept a full charge. This means it can’t store as much electricity as it could when new. As a result, the battery will have less power to start your ATV and run out of charge quicker.
To Ensure the ATV Is Always Ready to Go
Nothing is more frustrating than finally having some much-needed time off to go trail riding with your friends, only to find your ATV completely dead and unable to start.
Before you have time to charge the battery or get a new one to replace it, you’ve already lost a lot of precious riding time. All while knocking yourself for not spending a few minutes on proper battery storage to ensure the battery is in top condition and ready to go when needed.
To Save Time and Money
Ensuring proper battery storage costs much less money and takes significantly less time than replacing your battery prematurely.
A new battery is not cheap and typically costs much more than a basic maintenance charger.
To Avoid Safety Hazards
Improper battery storage can lead to safety hazards such as leaks, fires, and explosions.
ATV batteries can be recycled when disposed of properly, but ensuring optimal service life helps keep the overall negative environmental impact to a minimum.
Preparing Your ATV Battery for Storage
Before you put the battery away for storage, ensuring it is in top condition is a good idea.
Check Electrolyte Levels
If you have a serviceable conventional lead acid battery, inspect the electrolyte level and top it off with distilled water if it is low on fluid.
All other ATV battery types use a sealed construction that doesn’t require adding water.
Clean the Battery Casing and Terminals
Battery terminal corrosion can speed up the battery self-discharge rate through a process known as transient power loss.
Use a damp cloth to wipe off dirt and deposits from the battery casing.
To clean the terminals, dissolve some baking soda in hot water and use a Scotch Brite rubbing pad to clean the terminals and connectors. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves throughout the process.
Apply terminal grease or a corrosion-resistant spray to prevent further corrosion.
Also, visually inspect the battery casing and terminals for signs of damage, leaks, or disinformation.
Charge and Test the Battery
Conventional lead-acid and AGM batteries should be kept at full charge when in storage.
When these batteries discharge, they form sulfate crystals that build up on the lead plates inside the battery.
When left in a sulfated state for too long, the sulfate crystals harden, causing a permanent reduction in the battery’s capacity to recharge. The sulfation process accelerates when the battery is left sitting at a partial state of charge.
Battery sulfation can easily be reduced to a minimum by ensuring the battery stays at a full charge throughout the entire storage period.
GEL-cell batteries, on the other hand, are not as prone to sulfation and can better handle more extended periods at a partial state of charge.
Li-Ion batteries should not be stored at full charge. This type of battery prefers a storage charge rate between 80 and 90% and no lower than 70%.
Once you’ve charged the battery, I recommend testing its condition. This helps determine whether it still works well or has decreased too much capacity to last through storage. If the battery is not in good shape, you’ll have time to replace it before the next riding season.
As a final note on battery preparations, I recommend reading through this simple ATV battery maintenance guide and applying the recommended steps before putting the battery away for storage.
Choose a Good Storage Location
Finding a suitable place to store your battery is essential in ensuring it stays in good shape throughout storage.
Most of these factors apply not just to the battery but also to your ATV. Ideally, you want to keep your entire ATV in such storage conditions to keep it in good shape.
Related: Where to Store Your ATV? 9 Best Ways
However, if no such location is available to you, removing the battery from the ATV is recommended as it makes it easier to find a suitable storage location.
Underneath, you’ll learn what to look for in the ideal location and environment to store your ATV battery.
Somewhere Cool & Dark
The ideal temperature for storing a battery is around 15ºC or 59ºF on average throughout the year.
Storing a battery at too high a temperature can accelerate its internal chemical processes, leading to a faster drain. It’s not recommended to store batteries at temperatures above 25ºC or 77ºF.
On the other hand, freezing storage temperatures are also harmful. They can cause a poorly charged battery to freeze, which may lead to permanent damage.
The risk of a battery freezing relates closely to its state of charge.
State of Charge
Electrolyte Specific Gravity
A fully charged battery is not prone to freezing.
Find a location not exposed to direct sunlight to reduce temperature swings and plastic degrading from UV exposure.
Somewhere Dry and Clean
Excessive humidity can cause condensation on the battery, leading to small current leaks between the battery terminals, which accelerate the self-discharge rate. The problem is reinforced when the battery is not clean.
Also, dirt and moisture speed up the forming of corrosion on the battery terminals.
Somewhere With Good Ventilation
The chemical process inside a battery, when it is being charged or discharged, can form flammable and potentially explosive gasses. Proper ventilation allows any gasses to vent out safely.
Somewhere Protected From Impacts and Accidental Shorts
It’s not advisable to place the battery on the garage floor, where it risks being hit or having metal objects accidentally placed across its terminals.
Instead, leave it in the ATV or store it on an elevated surface, like a storage shelf, for better protection.
Away From Degrading Substances
Petroleum-based products like oil and gas, solvents, and other strong chemicals can cause the battery casing to melt or become brittle.
Away From Heat or Fire
Excessive heat, sparks, or open flames can damage the battery and impose a fire hazard.
It Is Safe to Leave the Battery in the ATV
Note that you do not have to remove the battery from the ATV to store it. This is only necessary if you cannot find a suitable location to hold your ATV with the battery still in it.
Disconnect the Battery to Prevent Battery Drain
Disconnecting the battery eliminates the risk of being drained from electrical components or accessories during storage.
Electrical components and aftermarket accessories are known for drawing a tiny current even when the ignition switch is off and the keys are out. This is known as parasitic battery drain and can cause the battery to drain completely while in storage.
Disconnecting the negative battery terminal is sufficient to eliminate the drain.
If your ATV has a battery disconnect switch, turning it off will have the same effect as disconnecting the battery terminals.
I recommend installing one if your ATV didn’t come with a battery disconnect switch from the factory. Here are some of the other benefits of having one.
If you’re disconnecting the battery to remove it from the ATV, it is essential to disconnect the black negative (-) terminal first and then the red positive (+) terminal.
This helps reduce the risk of shorts and sparks that could ignite explosive battery gasses if present.
When installing the battery, use the reverse order: red first and black last.
If you have a maintenance charger, you don’t need to disconnect the battery, as the charger will keep up with any small current draws as long as it is connected.
Read the Battery Voltage Regularly
All batteries self-discharge, even when disconnected. Self-discharge happens because of chemical processes inside the battery and can be accelerated by poor storage conditions.
Some battery types self-discharge faster than others due to their chemistry and design.
Because of self-discharge, the battery voltage should be monitored regularly throughout the storage period. Here is how often it is recommended to read the battery voltage of different battery types while in storage.
- Conventional lead acid: Every 1-2 months
- AGM: Every three months
- Li-Ion: Every six months
Storing your battery in temperatures below 59°F (15ºC) or above 77°F (25ºC) may require more frequent inspections or charging.
Charge When the Batteries State of Charge Is Low
One of the main benefits of having a maintenance charger is how you can connect it and forget it. The charger automatically puts a small charge on the battery when it senses a low charge level.
If you do not have access to an automatic charger, you should charge the battery manually when its state of charge is getting low, as indicated by the table below.
When to Charge
FLA (Flooded Lead Acid)
AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)
Li-Ion (Lithium Ion)
ATV Battery Storage Mistakes to Avoid
Some of the most common people make when storing their ATV batteries include:
- Not storing their battery at a full charge.
- Not disconnecting the battery to prevent parasitic battery drain.
- Not being aware of how batteries self-discharge and need to be charged regularly through storage.
- Not considering how crucial proper storage temperature is to prevent battery discharge (hot) or freezing (cold).
The Bottom Line
The importance of proper battery storage is one of those things people tend to learn the hard way after finding their ATV with a dead battery after a few months in storage.
Hopefully, this guide can help you avoid common mistakes, saving you time, money, and frustration.
Related: How to Charge a Dead ATV Battery