Used ATVs are the “new” new toys

Advance Auto PartsIt’s still here. That electric snow blower time of year that lingers just before the final spring thaw. That’s when my husband’s side of the family—his folks and his siblings with their spouses and kids—make a run for their annual break. With just a few weeks left before spring officially hits, we are that wagon train you see heading up the mountains.

Inside each of our minivans, trucks and SUVs are packed to the hilt with comfort provisions, plus that electric snow blower, as well as quite a few spare Power Sport Batteries, just in case. Because outside, we’re towing our toys. That’s right. We’re heading for an extended weekend of family freewheeling in—of all things—used ATVs! I’ve seen his family go from snowshoeing to cross-country skiing, to snowboarding. But since they’ve discovered a faster way to transport themselves, their favorite toys are these used ATVs they bought at a steal a few years back.

What’s my take on these? They can be fun when driven in a safe manner, but I’m not too wild about using them in a sporting way. Maybe it’s just the mom gene in me. Plus, I always remember the time that my cousin took a nasty spill in one of those used ATVs while speeding through some sand dunes down in Australia. Both he and that used ATV rolled down the hill. Together. Still sends chills down my spine just thinking how he spent the rest of his vacation in traction there.

Of course, my kids are mesmerized by these things. To my husband and me they plea their case around this time of year about them getting an ATV for kids. Not one to share, but one for each of them. We used to tell them to wait until they were big enough to drive them. That didn’t help. “They really do have an ATV for kids,” they keep reasoning back. An ATV for kids? Nothing doing.

So, we made them a deal. They’ll only get one ATV for kids that they’ll have to share, but only if they go about it the way their uncles and aunts did: by shopping around for a used ATV for kids. And it has to be at a price that’s a steal. After all, they’ll be the ones earning the money to pay it.

So, if you’re wondering about a certain trio of children who are kicking the tires of some used ATVs for kids, or are asking if you could hire them to clear a path from your front door to your driveway using our electric snow blower, they belong to my husband and me.

Editor’s note: Advance Auto Parts carries a wide selection of ATV batteries and accessories, plus parts for RVs, lawn and garden vehicles, motorcycles and more. Speaking of which, if you’re heading out to Bike Week, be sure to check out all of the killer events in store! 

Why we love our toys

Advance Auto Parts Whether it’s a four wheeler equipped with ATV accessories, a compact tractor, snow blower, chainsaw, boat, or dirt bike, these “tools” for work often double as toys. Growing up in the country, we lived at the end of Pine Bluff Lane—a quarter-mile of dirt and dust in the summer, a muddy, ravine-filled goat path in the spring, and in winter, a beast that my father and two neighbors eagerly tried to tame.

Since it was a private lane, maintaining it fell to my family and the neighbors, which wasn’t usually a lot of work, until winter. This was the ’70s and early ’80s—an era of big snows and rear-wheel drive cars. Even a smaller snowfall, when coupled with wind whipping across open fields, was enough to form road-closing drifts. Yes, winter was when the real work, or fun—depending on who you ask—began.

Today, compact farm tractors, gas or electric snow blowers, atvs and atv accessories—such as a snow plow—are more commonplace.  Back then, no one I knew used ATVs and I don’t think an ATV for kids was even invented, but my dad and the neighbors each did have a garden tractor, which was essentially not much more than a glorified, beefier lawn mower.

Every fall, I’d watch him remove the mowing deck from that Sears Suburban 14-HP tractor, periodically cursing a belt that wouldn’t budge, or his bleeding knuckles. Then he’d bolt on cement weights to the rear wheels and add tire chains. Next, came the four-foot snow plow mounted to the front. Finally, he made sure the tractor had fresh gas, an oil change, a new air filter, strong battery and new spark plug. Then, he and the neighbors would wait.

When a “big one” was forecast, Dad was just as excited as us kids about the prospect of a snow day. Oh sure, he’d lament about having to go out in the cold or at night to “open the road” as he put it, but we all knew that he secretly relished the challenge. When night fell and the snow flew and we saw him strap on his rubber galoshes, we knew it was playtime.

He wasn’t alone, as it was often a race between he and the neighbors to see who was going to start plowing first. We’d watch from our bedroom window as the tiny headlights bounced up and down the lane all night. If only they had small tractors or ATVs for kids back then. I could have plowed snow with my dad, instead of running behind him with a snow shovel, trying to help every time he got stuck. Oh, how much faster the job would have gone if he and the neighbors could have only used ATVs or today’s four-wheel drive trucks. Looking back, however, I now realize that they weren’t necessarily interested in getting the “job” done faster, simply because they were having too much fun. It was an excuse to work hard and play hard, and one of the reasons why we love our toys—the ones often disguised as tools.

Editor’s note: When it comes to powering and maintaining your toys, Advance Auto Parts is your best resource. Buy online, pick up in store.