We’ve all been there, you’re getting ready to start your off-roading adventure, you turn the key in the ignition and you hear nothing.
The battery is dead. Not to fear there are plenty of ways to get around this problem.
How to jump-start a UTV?
You can jump-start your UTV in much the same way as you’d jump-start any car. Attach the jumper cables from the good battery to the dead one, making sure to line up the positive and negative ends. If you’re jump-starting from an ATV or a UTV, start the machine and run for 3-5 minutes, then give it a try; if you’re jump-starting from a car or truck, keep it off and start the UTV only.
There can be some confusion about how best to jump-start any vehicle, but UTVs and indeed ATVs require a bit more attention since they charge their batteries a little differently than a normal car or truck.
This means you have to watch carefully how much juice you’re pumping into your UTV’s battery, you don’t want to fry it.
Can you jump start a UTV with a car?
Yes, but be very careful. The batteries in cars are 12 volt batteries but they’re charged using an alternator.
This means that if the car is on, and the UTV is connected, the car or truck’s battery will be throwing out an extra 1-2 volts at the machine.
That may not sound like much, but it can be very dangerous to the health of the UTV/ATV’s battery.
It’s a much better idea to jump-start your dead UTV battery using another UTV or ATV battery.
However, if you do not have access to a healthy UTV battery, you can use a car or truck’s battery to jump-start your UTV, but exercise caution.
If you absolutely must use a car or truck to jump-start your UTV, make sure the car or truck’s ignition is OFF before connecting jump-starting your UTV.
Step by step guide for jump start a UTV from another UTV/ATV
Start by exposing the battery, usually found under the driver’s seat of the UTV.
Pull the working ATV/UTV up close enough to the dead UTV so that jumper cables can reach between them.
Attach the negative clamp to the negative terminal of the working battery, and the positive clamp to the positive terminal. Lead the cables over to the dead battery and attach the leads to the dead battery.
Start the running ATV or UTV and let it run for a while, you should only need three to five minutes to give the dead battery enough juice to start up. Give the dead UTV a try and see if it starts.
If it does start, let it run for a while and if you can, don’t turn it off until you are in a place where you can recharge the battery, preferably on some sort of battery charger plugged into the wall.
UTVs are not designed to recharge a dead battery, so it’s a good idea to have a battery charger on hand at home.
If the UTV fails to start, make sure that the jumper cables are connected correctly, and to the correct terminals. Sometimes the terminals on batteries can get corroded through wear and tear.
Do a visual inspection to ensure that the terminals are clean and that there’s a secure connection from the UTV to the battery.
If these alternate solutions don’t start your UTV, you can start this process over again from the top, this time you may want to run the jumping vehicle a little longer to give the UTV more charge and try starting it again.
Step by step guide for jump start a UTV from a car or truck
Begin by pulling the car or truck up close to the dead UTV.
Expose the UTV’s battery and pop the car or truck’s hood exposing its battery. Attach the jumper cables to the truck’s battery, making sure the truck is OFF, and run those cables across to the UTV.
Attach the positive lead to the positive terminal, and the negative lead to the negative terminal.
You should be able to start the UTV directly off of the truck or car’s battery but to be on the safe side, you may want to give it a few minutes to charge.
Be careful not to let it go too long, otherwise, you might end up with a dead car battery and a working UTV, and it’ll be much harder to start a car off of a UTV’s battery than the other way around.
Try starting the UTV, if it doesn’t start, double check that all the clamps have secure connections, and that the wires connecting the UTV to the battery aren’t damaged or loose.
Give it a few more minutes to charge and then try it again. If the UTV still doesn’t start, I’m afraid the UTV isn’t starting for some other reason.
Useful gear to have if your UTV battery is dead
Jumper cables are a must to have with you no matter if you’re driving a UTV or a typical car. You can’t always trust that someone else will have them, and you don’t want to be stuck without them.
Portable jump starter
If you’re out on your own, it’s handy to have a portable jump starter tucked away in your emergency kit. These devices pack a punch in a small container.
You simply attach the leads and press a few buttons and the battery is charged enough to run on its own.
Some models will require you to let it charge for a while, but newer models are able to hold enough charge to get started right away.
General UTV tool kit
As a general rule, it’s probably a good idea to have an emergency tool kit with you when you’re off-roading.
Can you “pop the clutch” on a UTV?
A classic fashion of getting your car started is to have some people pushing your vehicle with your foot pushing down the clutch all the way.
When you get up to speed, you release the clutch, which engages the crankshaft, starting the car.
Unfortunately, most UTVs don’t use the same kind of transmission as a typical car.
UTV by and large use a centrifugal clutch, which means that even if you pushed your UTVs tires and released the clutch and everything, nothing would happen.
Typical clutches are able to translate the force from the wheel into the engine, but centrifugal clutches only communicate force in one direction.
This is because the clutch itself engages, as its name suggests, by spinning at fast enough speeds that a mechanism inside the transmission expands to make contact with an outer drum, which in turn connects to your wheels, driving you forward.
Unless your UTV has a typical clutch instead of a centrifugal one, you will not be able to “pop the clutch” on a UTV, and you’re better off trying to jump start it in the more conventional way mentioned above.
Alternative methods to Jump-starting your UTV
There is one way, while it is risky and not recommended, to pop the clutch on a UTV with a centrifugal clutch.
If you can find the outer drum of the centrifugal clutch somewhere under the hood, you would have seen it spinning while the machine was running, there is a way of twisting that outer drum and thus spinning the inner drum, starting your UTV.
Wrap a rope or towing cable around the drum securely a few times, and give it a good pull, just like you would starting a lawnmower or anything that pull-starts.
A word of warning, do not wrap the cable or rope around your hand.
If the end of the rope gets caught in the clutch as it’s spinning, it could be catastrophic for your hand and would turn your off-roading trip into an emergency room trip.
As I said above, this method is not recommended, but it may be useful to know in a pinch.
Is it possible to use a full-size battery in your UTV?
You may be wondering if it’s possible to simply attach a full-size car battery to your UTV and have everything run smoothly, and the answer is yes, to a point.
Replacing your UTV’s battery with a car battery will definitely get the machine started, and it may even give you plenty of power to run other electronics like a powerful sound system or a plethora of light bars.
However, that extra power comes at a price. Your UTV is built to recharge a UTV’s battery, and won’t be able to replenish a full-size battery.
This means that you’ll have a lot of extra power up to a point, and then you would eventually run out of power, killing your machine.
If you do want to consistently use a full-size battery instead of your typical UTV battery, you should make sure that you’re able to get back home on one charge, and recharge the battery using a battery tender or a trickle charger.
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