Most ATV owners ride their machines only sporadically. Some are seasonal riders, while others use it now and then throughout the year. In any case, the ATV is regularly left unused for shorter or longer periods over a few days or through an entire winter season.
This leaves the question, where is the best place to store your ATV when it’s not being used?
Regular use of an ATV doesn’t shield it from the effects of weather. It’s vital to have a solid short-term storage plan for daily use, just as you would prepare it for long-term winter storage, to maintain its condition.
This post explores some of the best short-term and long-term options to store an ATV.
The best place to store an ATV long-term and short-term is in a dark, dry, lockable garage or shed where it’s protected against the elements and out of sight for potential thieves. The second best alternative is renting a unit at a storage facility.
Continue reading to learn what makes a good ATV storage and a few more alternatives to consider.
What to Look For in Good ATV Storage?
ATVs are robust vehicles designed to endure rough terrain and harsh conditions. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t suffer when exposed to environmental factors such as moisture, UV radiation, and dirt.
Here are some recommendations on what to look for in a good ATV storage that will ensure that you can pick up your bike in just as good a condition as when you left it.
These universal guidelines apply regardless of whether you choose an option from our list or are considering other alternatives.
Prolonged exposure to moisture will cause any exposed metal to corrode. Brake pads, nicks in the frame or suspension paint, bolt ends, and electrical connections are all common problem areas on an ATV.
It’s not only iron that will corrode. Aluminum is prone to corrosion when exposed to moisture and oxygen in the air. Components such as rims, brake calipers, and hand levers will develop a powdery white or dull gray coated surface that needs a thorough polish to restore its original shine.
Note that metal does not have to be directly exposed to water to corrode. The moisture in damp air can trigger the corrosion process as well.
Somewhere Protected From the Sun
The UV radiation in sunrays causes an array of issues, such as:
- Dry rot in tires and exposed rubber hoses.
- Cracked and brittle seat covers.
- Causes paint to fade by oxidization.
- Plastics fade and become brittle.
Somewhere Rodent Free
Mice and rats love to build nests in tight and hard-to-reach spots in parked vehicles. Identifying and removing the nest in the spring can be challenging; prevention is the best cure.
They also love to nibble on the electrical wire insulation, causing shorts and subsequently having to replace damaged wires.
ATV theft is an ever-increasing problem that isn’t going away anytime soon.
When looking for a safe place to store your ATV, there are four key things to look for, each adding a layer of security.
Out of sight. Your ATV is less likely to get onto a thief’s radar if it’s not too visible. While a full enclosure like a building is best, even a tarp will significantly help.
Lockable access. Any storage with a locked door or gate will raise the bar for those looking for a quick snatch.
Ground anchor. Look for a place that has a solid concrete floor. This will allow you to install a floor anchor or ground anchor. Using a ground anchor to lock your ATV in place is one of the most effective ways of preventing ATV theft.
Security system. Whether installing a security cam, using a security service, or having a guard dog on a leash, the key is ensuring the ATV is not left unsupervised for extended periods. If the thief knows there is a chance of being noticed, they might reconsider and go elsewhere.
Pets, especially cats, are drawn to using ATV seat covers as playthings and scratching posts. I’ve experienced several times where I’ve retrieved my ATV from storage only to discover the seat covers riddled with cuts and scratches.
If you live where storms are common, look for a shelter to protect your ATV from flying twigs and other debris in a storm.
Short-Term vs. Long-Term Storage
The guidelines in this post are important for both short-term daily parking and long-term seasonal or winter storage. These factors can damage your bike, regardless of whether it’s regularly used or not.
The only real difference between short-term and long-term storage and how it may affect your ATV are the things that are typically not as determined by external factors.
Some examples are battery drain, the fuel going bad, carburetor gumming up, and tires damaged by deflation. How to prepare your ATV for long-term storage to avoid these issues and more will be covered in a separate post.
Our Nine Best ATV Storage Ideas
Now that you know what properties to look for in a good ATV storage location, here are our top ATV storage ideas. Not all alternatives check all the boxes and come with various pros and cons to consider.
1. In Your Lockable Garage
Storing your bike in a nice, dry, cool, lockable garage on your property checks off most of the markers of what makes an ideal ATV storage. This is the option that most ATV owners opt for.
Make sure it’s well-ventilated to prevent condensation issues. Also, having an insulated garage is a plus as it helps avoid rapid fluctuations in temperature, but there is no need to have it heated.
The winter off-season is an excellent opportunity to catch up on work and maintenance that needs to be done with the bike. Depending on your garage layout, having access to all your tools and a workbench makes repair jobs significantly less hassle.
One potential downside of using your garage as storage is how it tends to get overcrowded by cars, bikes, tools, sports equipment, etc. An average ATV takes up quite a lot of space, so if tight space is an issue, it may be worthwhile looking at some of the other options on our list.
Another thing to consider is if you live in an area with snow and use your garage to park your car throughout the winter. Each time you bring a wet or snowy vehicle into the garage, you add a lot of moisture into the same room as you keep your tools and ATV.
This will cause rust on any exposed metal, so I prefer to keep my car in a separate carport garage during winter.
2. In a Shed or Barn
Sheds are great; ask any seasoned homeowner. They allow you to free up space in your main garage by removing things you don’t use that often.
If there is not enough space in your garage, investing in a detached shed or small garage is likely the most cost-efficient solution for proper ATV storage.
There are several ways you can build a shed. If you’re up for it, you can make one out of wood or metal sheet metal. One benefit of building your shed is how you can customize it precisely to fit your needs and the surroundings.
Alternatively, you can opt for a resin shed kit that is (relatively) fast and easy to put up. And if you live on a small farm, a dry barn would make just as good of storage as a shed.
Regardless of which type of shed you choose, investing in proper flooring is time and money well spent.
Pouring a solid concrete slab would be the best option as it would keep the ATV up from the moist ground. The next best option would be to put out a plastic sheet as a moisture barrier and cover it with gravel or crushed stone for stability.
Storing your ATV in a shed can pose two main issues:
- Sheds built on the ground: Without a barrier between the shed and the ground, moisture from the soil can seep into the shed. This increases the risk of your ATV rusting. Additionally, performing maintenance or repairs on a dirt floor is challenging. If small parts like nuts or washers fall, they can easily be lost in the dirt.
- Partially enclosed sheds: Sheds without a proper floor often don’t extend to the ground, offering minimal protection. This leaves your ATV vulnerable to rodents and exposure to dirt and debris.
3. In a Garden Storage Tent
An even faster but not as aesthetically pleasing as a nicely built shed is putting up a basic garden storage tent.
While they are quick and easy and offer good protection against sun and rain, tents have some downsides.
A tent is probably not the best option if you get a lot of snow, as these typically have limited load capacity.
Also, tents, especially the cheaper ones, are not as durable and deteriorate much faster than a properly built shed.
4. In a Friend or Family Member’s Garage or Shed
Not all ATV owners live somewhere with a garage room to put up a shed or other on-site storage options. Or you may find that your buildings are already fully occupied with other things.
But if you have a friend or family member with storage space to spare, it’s an excellent alternative to leaving your ATV outside.
Storing in a friend or family member’s garage offers many of the same advantages as using your own, but there are also some drawbacks.
Require towing: If you don’t live close by or in an area where riding ATVs on public roads is legal, you’ll need to transport your ATV to and from the storage location using a trailer or the bed of your truck.
Not as accessible: Each time you want to look after or work on the ATV, you must drive there and bring the necessary tools and equipment. Also, you’d have to get into your car and drive each time you want to use your bike.
5. In a Rented Storage Unit
Another alternative to consider if you don’t have space for your ATV at home is renting a storage unit in a storage facility. It provides garage-like space on demand.
Keeping your ATV in a storage unit has similar cons to storing it at a friend’s house. It’s not as accessible, and you likely have to tow it. In addition, there are monthly rent payments that add up over time.
However, there are some possible pros you may not get in other places, such as 24/7 security service and climate control.
Things to look for in a storage unit for an ATV:
Location: The storage facility should be located somewhere so that it’s not too much of a hassle to go there whenever you want to use your ATV.
Drive-up access: Look for a facility that allows you to drive your truck and trailer up to the unit for easy access.
Access hours: Most storage facilities have only limited access hours. Ensure those don’t prevent you if you suddenly want to go out on an unplanned Sunday morning ride.
Security: Ideally, looking for a gated facility with 24/7 surveillance would be best.
Lease plans: Storage facilities typically operate with three types of lease plans:
- Flexible lease: A couple of weeks up to two months.
- Short-term: From two months up to six months.
- Long-term: Six months or more.
Size: The storage unit must be appropriately sized for your ATV. Most facilities won’t permit storing the bike on its side to conserve space. Aim for a unit at least 5×10 feet to accommodate an average-sized ATV. Generally, you won’t need a unit larger than 10×10 feet, or at most 10×15 feet. A 10×15-foot unit is spacious enough to fit an average-sized UTV as well.
Other typical requirements storage facilities typically have is that the ATV needs to be operable (needs to start and run) and needs to have insurance and registration in your name.
Also, it’s common for facilities not to allow you to work on the bike on their premises. You must tow it to a different location and back for repairs and maintenance.
6. Under a Tarp or ATV-Cover
Placing the ATV outside under a tarp or cover is a cost-efficient alternative many ATV owners opt for. Where leaving your ATV entirely unprotected outdoors can cause a lot of damage, adding a tarp is a quick and easy way of improving your vehicle’s storage conditions.
A cover offers good protection for your ATV against sun, rain, and snow, and it helps to keep it free from dust, leaves, and bird droppings.
However, there are also some drawbacks to consider:
It’s not as secure as a garage: If you store your ATV under a tarp or cover, ensure you park the bike where it is not too visible from the road. A potential thief can still see that there is an ATV underneath. Also, look for a spot to chain it to a fixed object, like a tree.
Does not protect against rodents: An ATV covered with a tarp provides an excellent location for rodents to build their nests. Place a few mouse traps underneath and on the bike to reduce the risk of damage.
Not as protected against moisture: Moisture isn’t limited to rain and snow. Damp weather can lead to condensation, and moisture from the ground can become trapped under a tarp, leading to corrosion over time. Choosing a cover with ventilating features is essential, allowing moist air to escape and preventing moisture buildup.
7. In a Covered Vehicle Storage
If you are going away for a while and don’t have a place to park your ATV or don’t want to leave it unattended outside, consider renting covered vehicle storage.
A covered vehicle store is a service typically offered by storage facilities where the vehicle gets a dedicated parking space and a roof over its head, basically a rented carport.
8. In an Enclosed Trailer
If you have an enclosed trailer, it can be a great place to store your ATV when not in use. You will likely need a trailer to tow your bike anyway, so investing in an enclosed model can be a win-win.
Ensure the trailer is securely locked in place, or it could also be a win-win for a potential thief.
9. In a Shipping Container
Shipping containers offer robust and affordable storage, provided you can accept the industrial look. They include a locking door that is a sound barrier against ATV theft.
Some like to cover their containers with wood or other materials to make them more aesthetically pleasing.
Ensure the container has proper ventilation; you might have to cut some holes to create vents. Also, set the container on concrete blocks to raise it above the damp ground and keep it level.
Unless you choose the smallest containers, you’ll also have room for a workbench and enough space to work on your bike while in storage.
Can You Store an ATV Standing Up?
You can store an ATV standing up vertically if you drain the carbs and turn off the gas to prevent fuel leaks.
Where Do You Store Your ATV in the Winter?
Most ATV owners store their bikes in a garage, shed, barn, or storage facility during winter to protect them from rain and snow.
Is It Ok to Store an ATV Outside?
Storing an ATV outside with no protection against the elements is not a good idea and will likely reduce your vehicle’s life expectancy and resale value.