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What is an ATV kill switch? Why is it so important?

What is an ATV kill switch? Why is it so important?

ATV driving is an extremely fun sport that is enjoyed by countless people across the globe. However, there is no denying that it can also be a dangerous sport. The off-road terrain and the fast speed of ATV riding is what makes the sport so exhilarating, but it is equally what makes the sport so dangerous.

However, that should not deter you from taking it up as a hobby, as there are many different things you can do to protect your vehicle, and safety features you can implement to make your driving experience as safe as possible.

What is a kill switch?

A kill switch or safety tether switch is a specific mechanism that instantly shuts off the engine of your vehicle. It is used in emergencies when ATV riders need to quickly stop their vehicles. The kill switch is usually attached to the rider so it initiates if the rider pulls on it.

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What are the different types of kill switches?

There are different types of ATV kill switches and the type you choose depends on the reason you are riding. The most popular models on the market include:

  1. Flip switch
  2. Pull switch
  3. Remote switch

1. Flip switch

Most regular riders who ride their ATVs just for fun use a regular flip switch, which works exactly as you would expect. To initiate the flip kill switch, you simply flick the switch, which is similar to turning on a light.

2. Pull switch

This kill switch is usually used by drivers who tackle more difficult terrain or drive more dangerously, such as race drivers. If the driver pulls on the tether, it will pull out the metal rod and activate the kill switch. This is useful in more dangerous situations as the kill switch is also activated if the driver falls off.

3. Remote switch

Remote kill switches are usually used by beginners who are nervous about driving or for small children. A remote kill switch allows a person who is not riding to stop the vehicle remotely. The remote aspect is why it is preferred by parents as it affords them some level of control of their child's actions. Remote kill switches are usually used in addition to flip switches so the driver also has the option to kill the engine if he feels that it is necessary.

What is the purpose of a kill switch?

The purpose of a kill switch is to immediately turn off the ATV engine if a person is in an emergency situation. Due to the nature of off-road tracks, there are often unforeseen obstacles. Kill switches are an added safety feature to mitigate this risk.

Even the most experienced riders cannot control the safety of the road they’re on, so having a kill switch installed improves the overall safety of the vehicle. When a sport is dangerous, any source of hazard needs to be accounted for.

Kill switches can be used on a variety of different vehicles, from ATVs to regular cars, to an outboard engine motor kill switch, which is used on boats. Drivers of different types of vehicles acknowledge the benefits of kill switches.

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Why use a kill switch on an ATV?

You should use a kill switch on an ATV for the following reasons:

  • Safety
  • Prevent theft
  • Lower insurance


Safety should be your priority if you are riding an off-road vehicle such as an ATV or UTV, and a kill switch provides you with additional safety. When a kill switch is installed, you reduce the risk of a major accident happening because you have more control over your vehicle.

If you are in an emergency scenario and need to stop instantly, a kill switch will allow you to do this more quickly than the traditional ignition switch. The main reason that you should use an ignition switch is to improve the safety of your vehicle. 

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Prevent theft

This is an additional benefit to adding a kill switch that many people don’t usually consider. It might sound trivial when compared to the safety benefits that a kill switch provides, but when you consider the cost of an ATV and the money you spend on it, the anti-theft feature that a kill switch provides is great. 

Because an ATV is not enclosed like a car, they are unfortunately prone to be stolen. They are an easy target for thieves who do not have to worry about the additional step of breaking open a door. ATVs without kill switches are easily stolen because all a thief has to do is hijack the vehicle. Thankfully, most of the time, only the driver knows where the kill switch is so the thief won't be able to start the vehicle without deactivating it.

Lower insurance

ATV and UTV riding can be an expensive hobby, even more so when you consider how much you have to pay for insurance. However, insurance is not something that you can skip, because if something happens, you will want to make sure that you’re fully covered for any damage.

Insurance companies know of the benefits of having a kill switch installed on your ATV. They know that with a kill switch it is less likely to get stolen, be damaged, or cause you or anyone physical damage. The insurance savings you can make with a kill switch on your ATV are therefore a pretty nice perk.

How does a kill switch work?

The kill switch is closely linked with the ignition so when the kill switch is activated, the ignition is turned off. The specific mechanism that the kill switch is attached to is known as the ignition coil. The ignition coil is connected to the internal working of the vehicle, and it is what sparks the engine to ignite.

However, when the kill switch is activated, it disrupts the ignition which in turn breaks the circuit, so it does not have a positive. Without this positive circuit, the ATV’s engine cannot work. As has been previously highlighted, there are different types of kill switches, so they all function in slightly different ways. Some have normally opened and normally closed mechanisms, but the basic mechanics behind the switch remain virtually the same. 

How to install a kill switch

Installing a kill switch is relatively easy, and can be done in a few simple steps. However, before installing one, it’s important to know the model of your vehicle. Although most kill switches are universal, each manufacturer of ATV is different so you have to be sure that you are connecting your wires to the correct internal parts of the vehicle.

The first thing you need to do is tighten the screws of the pull kill switch to the position that you want it to be in. You need to make sure that you install it somewhere that is easily accessible when you are riding and that it is secured tightly. Once you have decided where you want the switch to be installed, you need to deal with the wires. You will see two or three wires connected to your kill switch depending on the type of switch that you have. 

If you have chosen to install a pull kill switch, the third wire will be the pull wire. There will be a short switch wire and a long switch wire. The short switch will usually connect to the ground, whereas the long will connect to the signal wire which is on the ATV engine. We suggest you test your kill switch before going on a big drive to ensure you do not have a faulty kill switch as that could be extremely dangerous.

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