Our Advice when Buying a second-hand vehicle

Our Advice when Buying a second-hand vehicle image #1 Our Advice when Buying a second-hand vehicle image #2 Our Advice when Buying a second-hand vehicle image #3

28 Feb 2020

Looking for a used UTV? Here’s the Ace ATV guide of what to look for…

The utility vehicle is a handy piece of machinery for moving people and kit around the farm, checking livestock and even tackling jobs such as feeding or spraying with the right accessories. For some, a new vehicle is pricey, especially if it is for a new venture or just a few hours’ work a week.

In these circumstances a second-hand UTV can often prove to be a worthwhile buy, however, a thorough inspection of the vehicle and knowing what to look out for is essential.


When choosing between the brands, go for one which is built for commercial use, such as the Polaris or Kawasaki. A straightforward build is another plus as it can avoid lengthy repairs. Polaris & Kawasaki UTVs can usually be fixed on-site, eliminating transport and labour costs. Further more the parts are competitively priced.


Some second-hand UTVs on the market will have high hours and have been neglected, requiring expensive parts and labour to put them right. The hours reflect the amount of work a vehicle has done – but not the type of work.

Where to start 

Start with a general look around the machine. If the mud and dirt on it looks as if it has been there a long time, it may have created a harsh environment for components such as drive shafts to work in. Sealed bearings should withstand normal conditions, but extreme and long-lasting wet weather can put a lot more strain on machines. 

As already mentioned, it is also worth having a chat about what work the machine has done. On steep ground where the UTV is constantly working at nine to 10 inches of suspension travel, the drive shaft is vulnerable. Check the chassis itself for damage and also the plastic skid plate underneath as any damage can suggest it has been used on rough ground.

First Impressions

First impressions are important, although you should not be put off by a few knocks and scratches. Rollbars can hit trees when working in forestry and the front bumper bars can easily become damaged. The lightweight chassis means they can bounce off with little structural damage if a solid object is struck. But a badly dented rollbar will need to be replaced which can cost more than £600.

Any damage to a cab is easily replaced, especially if it is a European fitment. We would always recommend a glass windscreen over a plastic one, something to consider during price negotiations.

Murray explains that “plastic screens can easily be scratched which affects visibility, especially in the rain. This leads to them being replaced and an additional cost to running your UTV”.

Final Points

  • Gauge how easy the cargo box is to lift - some will have electric tip and some will have gas struts, which should tip themselves. If you have to lift the latter, the gas struts need replacing.
  • Tyre wear is significant and brand new tyres should raise immediate suspicion. At Ace ATV we may offer new tyres as part of the package but they are always fitted after the customer has inspected the vehicle. Ask to see the old ones as if they are unevenly worn, the suspension components may also be worn.
  • Wheels themselves should also be inspected. If the nuts have clean threads and the tyres have not been changed, this can suggest the wheels and hubs have been removed to replace bearings.
  • Under the bonnet, you can check the fan belt tension and battery connections. Look around the radiator for debris and blockages which can affect the machine’s running.
  • Beneath the seat, have a look at the engine - if paint is missing on the injector pipes, it indicates there may have been a fuel problem and these have had a spanner on them. Murray explains that “dirty fuel is an issue with UTVs. Take the fuel filler cap off and shine a torch down into the tank to look for debris,”
  • A dealer or private vendor should supply service records, and oil should be changed every 250 hours. “These machines are relatively cheap to service so there is no reason for neglecting them,” he says.
  • Also take a look at the air filter to see if it has been replaced regularly. This can be forgotten on some machines where the filter is hard to access.
  • Finally, check the Serial (VIN) Plate. Ensure that this is in tact and matches all paperwork for the sale.

If you would like any further help or advice please do not hesitate to get in touch. Our turn around on used machines is a swift one and a vehicle can be with its new owner before we get chance to advertise on our website. However, you can find our adverts for any current second-hand machines on auto-trader.

Good luck!

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