What does "Expert only" really mean?

By Joe Kosch


UTV and ATV manufacturers come up with some truly amazing machines, and the genius they display developing vehicles is matched by brilliant marketing. UTV and ATV advertising is clever, but when I want to see machines described even more creatively, I go straight to the classified ads where regular riders describe the vehicles they’re trying to sell. Sometimes, the difference between the description and the photo is so great, it’s hard to tell if they’re really supposed to go together. Driving a fair distance, burning time and gas, and actually seeing a machine that has little in common with the seller’s sales pitch is even more shocking. To help you interpret some common UTV and ATV classified ad terms and phrases, I’ve listed several along with more accurate versions.

“Fully restored” may mean meticulously restored to like new, factory original condition and appearance, just like it was on the showroom floor when the machine was first sold! Depending on the seller’s imagination or disregard for reality, “fully restored” can also mean showing obvious signs of age, use, neglect and damage, with a hasty spray-can touch-up of worn paint and scratched and faded bodywork. Expect the paint to be the same general color as the original, but it’s still so many shades off, it’s an insult to the machine’s original appearance, or a color never used for that model or brand, or maybe any UTV or ATV ever. Creative full restoration usually includes new, recently installed homemade seat covers and numerous freshly applied stickers. The tires will likely be worn out and may also be cracked, but they will be coated with a thick coating of shiny tire treatment.


“Many custom parts” may mean a machine loaded with desirable aftermarket performance parts, accessories and appearance upgrades. You may find used machines with expensive engine kits, performance exhausts, wheels, tires, suspension and graphics for the same price as similar used stock machines. “Many custom parts” can also mean a crashed or otherwise abused machine repaired with whatever could be made to fit using what was lying around the garage. In some seller’s opinions, the term “custom parts” may be used to describe a throttle from a weed eater, wheels from a lawn tractor or an exhaust pipe made with pieces of a lawn-chair frame. 

“Used only for holiday dune trips” may mean a machine with very few hours of use for its age, possibly with welcome sand riding accessories like a safety flag and paddle tires in addition to good stock tires. “Used only for holiday dune trips” can also mean ridden wide open from new with no break-in time whatsoever, or a machine that is a rolling example of the damaging effects of sand on engines and chassis pivots.

“Normal wear and tear” may mean typical signs of use for an off-road vehicle, like some tire wear, and evidence of boots, body parts and brush making contact with the bodywork. “Normal wear and tear” can also mean the kind of wear and tear an UTV or ATV gets during several seasons of pro-level racing. In more severe cases, the seller may be referring to the kind of wear and tear that is normal when a vehicle tumbles down a hill and catches fire before it hits the bottom.


“Service manual included” may mean the seller is so concerned about the care of the machine that he refers to the service manual to answer all questions about its inner workings to make sure it is in top condition at all times. “Service manual included” can also mean engine problems, crash damage or both were so severe the quad could only be put back together with the service manual’s detailed information. If the machine is still disassembled when you go to see it, look elsewhere.

“All parts included” may mean the owner has added numerous high-performance parts to the machine and wisely stored the stock parts, which will be included with it. “All parts included” can also mean the seller is a bumbling mechanic who took the machine apart but has no idea how to put it back together. The situation can be worse if the machine is back together, but there are numerous extra parts the seller forgot to install.

“For experts only” may mean the machine for sale is highly tuned and so powerful only experts can ride it safely. “For experts only” can also mean the machine has so many engine, transmission and handling problems only an expert rider can keep the thing running or pointed in the right direction. Now that you’re an expert on common UTV and ATV classified-ad terms and phrases, you’ll know to ask for details so you know what you’re really looking at.

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