ATV riding is some serious fun. It’s also a game changer for heavy-duty chores. But, as with any other machine, not every model a manufacturer produces is going to be a winner. These are the most complained about ATV models.
There are a lot of things to take into account here. The rider is a major variable that affects the overall durability of your ATV. Then there’s the matter of what type of terrain you are riding on. Fording deep mud and creeks and scrambling over virtually everything in your path inevitably works your quad harder than easy riding on groomers. That said, there are still a few models that owners seem to complain about more than others.
The more horsepower you run the more likely your ATV will break down
The tamer four wheelers tend to outlive the beefier models with more horsepower and higher displacement. If you think about why, though, it makes complete sense. The ATV riding enthusiast will put a Can-Am Outlander X XC 1000 through the wringer.
On the other hand, riding an ATV like the Honda FourTrax TRX250X you’re less likely to run into issues. As fun as ATV riding is on a quad like this still is, it’s just far less likely to see a need for excessive service because it’s not getting pushed as hard. This also comes back to the rider.
Your ATV is generally going to give what it gets. Let’s say a rider is constantly pushing the envelope and riding through mud pits up to their knees, scrambling up steep embankments, or navigating any other example of brutal terrain. This person’s machine is reaching its maximum performance on a regular basis. Obviously, we aren’t saying that this type of riding shouldn’t be done on a quad. I mean, that’s why a lot of us have them right?
Still, keep in mind that the harder a machine works the more likely it is to falter. Easy riding generally means easier, less frequent maintenance and service. Consistent hard riding generally results in more hours of service––regardless of what ATV model you ride.
Polaris ATVs have a bad reputation as the most complained about ATV models
Though terrain and rider style certainly have a massive impact on the reliability and durability of an ATV, Polaris is definitely a brand that stands out in terms of complaints. Especially on ATV owner forums such as Polaris ATV Forums, we find a large number of owners report that Polaris models break down more than the others.
After some digging on the internet, we found that the most complained about ATV models are the Polaris Sportsman 850 and the Polaris Sportsman 1000. There are stories of Polaris die-hards moving on to other brands like Honda because they were so sick of their ATV having issues. Still, we have to keep in mind the variables and maintain the dogma that an ATV having problems doesn’t necessarily mean that specific model is just a trash four-wheeler to avoid at all costs.
Polaris Sportsman models with larger displacement quads aren’t bad ATVs per se. They have great tow ratings and are fun to ride. Many owners share accounts of their Polaris Sportsman 850 ATV running great for the duration of its life. That said, pre-2015 models seem to have fewer problems than the newer versions. In fact, reports from sources like the Minnesota Post showcase a gnarly track record of recalls on various Polaris ATV and UTV models in the last few years.