UTV/ATV Fuel Consumption Explained

UTV/ATV Fuel Consumption Explained

You’re using your ATV for fun, or your UTV to actually provide utility around a job site, your farm, or your homestead – how much is that costing you in fuel? How much of a gas guzzler is that thing you’re riding on every day?

UTV fuel consumption is something you need to pay close attention to. It can easily get out of hand, and monitoring it on a constant basis could lead to you discovering that something is amiss. We’re going to cover everything you need to know, and more.

How Many Miles Per Gallon Does an ATV Get?

How Many Miles Per Gallon Does An ATV Get?

On average, you’re looking at about 15 to 20 MPG for a new ATV, or one that has a couple of years worth of wear and tear on it. It’s all going to depend on how well you maintain it, and the specs of the engine.

You’ll find contradicting answers that say around 10 to 12 MPG, but that’s simply not true. Unless you’re hauling a thousand pounds on the trailer attached to your ATV, while wearing heavy gear and going through the worst conditions possible, you can get a decent MPG.

How to Drive Your ATV/UTV With Minimal Consumption?

How To Drive Your ATV/UTV With Minimal Consumption?

This is really what we’re here for: a way to save money by keeping your fuel consumption to an all-time low.

Basically, you want to optimize your ride to keep as much green in your pocket as possible, which is why you should take every precaution. Let’s get into the ways that your fuel consumption suffers, and fixes for them.

Weight

This is a broad one, but basically, the entire weight of what you’re carrying. This accounts for your own body weight, so before you hop on your ATV, it’s important to hop on the scale to account for clothing, bags, and any winter gear that’s going to weigh you down.

While there’s no perfect formula to convert user weight to how much additional fuel it costs you, we know that more pressure on the ATV motor will require it to work harder to drive the same distance.

Weight is also going to come down to any ATV or UTV trailer you’re lugging along. While I’m not personally going to weigh every log I move from the edge of the farm, having a ballpark estimate is a good idea.

If you’re bringing something from A to B, you have to account for that weight the entire way. Know the empty weight of your trailer.

Brakes

This is something you don’t think about. It’s not even about how “good” your brakes are or how tactile they feel when you press them, but more about how you use your brakes.

When you press down on your brakes, you’re bringing your motor to a halt faster than if you just let go of the gas, and let it wind down on its own. It’s stress on the motor in micro forms. Instead of riding fast and stopping short, kill the gas earlier and let yourself roll into place.

Even if you have to give it a bit of an extra kick, it’s better than stressing out the motor, because that will lead to worse fuel consumption in the future. That, and you’re not applying gas and instead letting the momentum do the work for you. That’s also a big help.

Tire Pressure

Lower tire pressure means worse fuel consumption. Just like how we talked about letting momentum, when you don’t have the proper pressure in your tires, you’re forcing your motor to do more work to achieve the same results.

When you roll into a stop and let that momentum carry you the rest of the way, it’s important to know you’ll go a lot farther without having to reapply the gas if your tires have the right level of pressure in them.

Depending on where you’re using your ATV or UTV, you should check the tire pressure once a week at the very least. Colder temperatures can cause up to 5% deflation in a single week depending on where you are.

Aerodynamics

The wind is not your friend when you’re trying to maintain a healthy fuel consumption. Aerodynamics can’t account for how fast the wind is blowing in your direction, but depending on how aerodynamic your ATV or UTV is, it can glide easier without the wind holding it back.

Aerodynamics are forgertable because you can’t really see a difference, but they make a large impact on your fuel economy.

Aggressive Riding

When you’re on an ATV, there’s this sense that comes up from within you that tells you to just put the pedal to the metal and rip through the land in front of you.

That’s fun, but it’s not going to do you any favors when it comes to fuel consumption. Ride less aggressively and put less strain on your ATV, and you can go farther with the same amount of fuel.

As Intended

I know a lot of people who modify their ATVs. When I say modify, I mean they trick it out to no end. They remove things, change out parts, the works. This can be fun, but when an ATV or UTV is designed, it’s built with a specific fuel economy from original parts.

Half the time you’re stuck using aftermarkets unless you have a brand new year model ATV (and then why are you modding it?), so you end up sacrificing performance and fuel economy.

Clean Lines

Performance-enhancing additives to your engine is what I’m talking about. While these are mostly just used for your car motor, they can be used in your ATV as well to maintain your fuel efficiency.

This is something you can do once per year with great effect, or even go longer in between them if you only use your ATV at infrequent intervals.

Maintenance

Your engine is everything. If you aren’t taking care of it, then you’re forcing it to do more work to pull you the same distance that it otherwise would have, effectively messing with your fuel economy. Perform engine maintenance as often as possible, without overdoing it.

The Road

You’re likely not driving these at a calm speed on a perfect, newly-laid asphalt road. You’re on the dirt. If you have a clear path ahead that doesn’t have many bumps and turns, then you’re going to save more fuel.

When we hit a rough patch and have to require more from our ATVs or UTVs, we’re burning extra fuel in exchange for momentum. Whether this is just a bump road or a hilly terrain, it will pull more fuel, take you longer to get from A to B, and technically cost you more in the long haul.

What is the Average Fuel Mileage of a UTV?

What Is The Average Fuel Mileage Of A UTV?

Because UTVs are bulkier and designed for hauling things around, they come with a bit more power under the hood.

Manufacturers average about 20 MPG ratings on most new UTVs in 2020, and as far as we know with current technological advancements, that’s going to stay that way for about five years or so.

Just like we mentioned before with our guideline for minimal fuel consumption on your ATV, you can apply the same tricks to your UTV to try and stretch as much of your gas as possible.

Even if you come in with lower speeds in your UTV, you could still be burning a lot of gas and  cap out at 20 MPG.

How Much Does Speed Affect Fuel Economy?

Quite a bit, actually. Your motor is going to perform when you tell it to no matter what, so many people get lost in this mindset of “The motor is already engaged” and assume it has less of an impact on your fuel economy.

The more you expect out of your vehicle, the more it has to do. There’s no magic plateau when you’re using the same amount of fuel no matter what speed you’re going. With an ATV or UTV, you’re most likely just going in a straight path with no traffic or major roadblocks.

That’s good, because you’re going to get the most fuel economy that way. Otherwise, you could burn through more fuel if you were going stop-and-go at a lower speed, since the engine is still on and pulling power no matter what.

Going faster pushes the engine, pulling more fuel. If your Yamaha caps out at 50 MPH, and you’re riding aggressively the entire time, you’re going to burn through your fuel faster.

Try to keep it at an even pace if it’s a UTV, but if it’s an ATV, I can’t really tell you not to take advantage of the full speed and have some fun.

Should I Use Low Range in my ATV to Save Fuel?

It depends on how fast you want to go. Low range can be extremely effective at conserving fuel, because with low range, you’re putting less power to the wheels.

Thanks to machine efficiency (not just the engine) in newer ATVs, low range is viable. When it was first introduced… not so much.

Low range modes used to seriously cut down on your speed, while only offering an additional 1 to 2.5 MPG in exchange for time. Nowadays, you can see an average of 27 MPG on low range, whereas you might only hit about 19-21 MPG on your high range mode.

This is going to vary from model to model, though. A newer ATV or one with low wear-and-tear on it will most likely benefit from low range mode a lot more than not.

How Can I Monitor my Fuel Efficiency?

It’s not like you have a fuel efficiency meter in your ATV or UTV, but including the variables I’ve mentioned above, there is one main way that you can monitor your fuel efficiency. You can do this with a GPS or your phone’s location settings.

  • Start a Route: If you know where you’re  going, set up a route on Google Maps. Make sure that you redirect the blue line to actually contour to the path you’re taking. If you’re not sure what that path is, they will calculate the best one for you. If it’s mostly off-road, manipulate the path yourself.
  • Top Off: Your gauge can be off, so top off the gas before you get started. This will let you know beyond the shadow of a doubt what your fuel economy is.
  • Monitor the Path: Pay attention to the expected arrival time, and then how fast you’re going to get there. The goal here is to put normal stress on your engine so we can accurately measure how much gas it’s going to take for you to get from A to B.
  • Record It: If you went 25 miles and you’re down by about a fourth on your 6 gallon tank, you  get about 18 MPG give or take. It’s important to have this info on hand so that you can know what you’re getting into the next time you gas up.

Do this from time to time after ensuring the tires are pumped up, you’re not carrying extra weight, and you’ve had your maintenance at least twice a year. Your fuel economy is going to change slightly over time, so doing this allows you to know when it’s altered.

Fuel Consumption Redefined

You don’t want to consume more fuel than is necessary. It comes down to money. You’re likely using your UTV for a reason that follows your career or your livelihood, and that’s great, but if you can save some dollars along the way, then why not do it?

Fuel consumption is getting better, with some ATVs and UTVs getting up to 70 MPG in the current time that we’re seeing gas prices on the decline. Hopefully, we’ll see even better advancements as time goes on.

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