Irrespective of whether you are a seasonal utility driver or a year-round diehard rider, you won’t be doing much trail riding, rock crawling or duning on your four-wheel ride unless you maintain it.
Maintenance is often overlooked on UTVs and this can lead to major problems along the line. Don’t be a victim of this. With a little bit of preventative maintenance, you can help avoid future headaches and keep your side-by-side running at its best.
UTVs are fun and recreational vehicles and there is very little that they cannot do when it comes to work or play.
In order to keep it in tip-top condition and ensure that it doesn’t cut down your work or play time, maintain it regularly and it will take care of you for a long time to come.
- 1 How to properly store your UTV/ATV?
- 2 How to clean your UTV/ATV?
- 3 How often should you change oils?
- 4 When should you charge UTV/ATV battery?
- 5 UTV Maintenance: Other tips and tricks
How to properly store your UTV/ATV?
Everyone understands that proper UTV storage is important however the more important question is, why?
Properly storing the machine keeps it in good running order and minimizes damage that can be costly to repair. It also saves you time as you won’t need to be doing repairs during the riding season.
Instead of being stuck with repairs at the start of the season, you can go ahead and enjoy your UTV since it will be ready to use and ride from the get go.
Storing your ATV or UTP for a long time doesn’t simply mean leaving it in the confines of your garage or shed. You need to prepare your ATV for winter hibernation as soon as the cold starts setting in.
This takes a bit of time, however, in the long run, it will prevent damage and corrosion on the UTV and then once winter hibernation is over, you’ll be ready to ride.
When comparing your UTV for storage, think along the lines of what you would do after a day of riding. Most people would give their UTV good clean. And ultimately doing this regularly will keep your machine in pristine condition.
Drain the fuel or add stabilizer
Gas has a tendency to go bad if it is sitting for long periods. If your ATV or UTV has a plastic gas tank, the best thing to do is drain all the fuel out and this applies to fuel lines and carburetor.
Machines that have metal tanks and depending on where you live to need the gas left inside.
This is because humid areas tend to rust an empty metal gas tank so the better option is to fill it up and add fuel stabilizer if you have a metal tank. Ensure that you run the engine and get the stabilized fuel throughout the system.
Tend to the battery
You need a battery tender for this step. A battery that’s not in use will die pretty quickly and a depleted battery left in this state ruins its lifespan.
One of the best things to do is hook it up to a battery tender which uses very little juice to keep the battery charged all winter long. However, you should remember to remove it from your machine first.
Battery tenders utilize a float or maintenance mode once that is fully charged. Most people already have one however if you are new to ATV/UTV riding, then investing in one should be a priority for you.
Tires can deflate slowly over time so you want to inflate your tires to the maximum unless you have the time to check in on it weekly.
Additionally, you don’t want your tires resting on frozen concrete for the next six months. So use blocks to lift the ATV off the ground this will also relieve the stress from the suspension.
Fresh oil and filter
The oil and filter will need to be changed. Used oil is likely to contain dirt and debris which might congeal to the pan and engine parts over a period of time.
Once you’ve added fresh oil and the filter, allow the engine to idle for a few minutes to allow the new oil to bathe over moving parts.
Every month or so allow the engine to turn over once or twice without starting it so the moving parts can get lubricated. The air filter should be removed as rodents find foam is a great place to sleep and the air filter can also dry out after sitting there all winter long.
Cover the UTV
Your UTV or ATV should be covered however not with plastic. The breathable fabric should be used or else moisture will not evaporate and create a rusty environment for your UTV, not to mention lead to a build-up of mold and mildew.
Ultimately, it is best to keep your UTV or ATV in a dry area that doesn’t get very cold. If your garage has windows ensure that sunlight doesn’t reach the tires or the plastic.
How to clean your UTV/ATV?
Your UTV should be completely cleaned. This means that you should soap it down and rinse it and lubricate it.
Thereafter, you should use a protectant on your plastic and basically go ahead with the next steps that you would normally follow through with to get it ready for the next ride day.
However the difference this time is that you should spray it with WD-40. This should be sprayed into the exhaust pipe to prevent rust and into the opening to keep dust and bugs out.
Thereafter stuff a rag or a muffler plug into the opening. Ultimately, you can even use the WD-40 to wipe down all polished and raw metal surfaces as a precaution.
How often should you change oils?
If you have been driving your UTV for a while already, you’re probably wondering about how often you should replace the engine oil?
The answer to that is going to depend on a lot of factors such as how often you are riding it, what model of UTV you have etc. However, there is a rule of thumb for 99% of models.
So the short answer is that you should be replacing the engine oil every 40 hours or once a month, whichever comes first.
It is imperative that you change the engine oil regularly because by doing so, you are preserving the engine’s internals and this helps with the resale value of your UTV.
Probably one of the reasons that UTVs breakdown prematurely is because of failure to change or replace the oil. So ultimately changing the oil as often as possible is recommended.
The frequency at which you replace your UTVs oil will depend on how often you are riding it, the model that you have and the general climate you are using it in, among other factors.
However generally, as mentioned above, it is recommended that you change the oil once for every 40 hours of riding.
There are however some people that should be changing the oil more often and other people that do not need to bother as much.
If you tend to use your UTV mainly on the sand dunes or at the beach, then should be changing your oil after every 30 hours of riding because of all of the dust and sand in the environment that gets into the engine itself and ultimately affects the piston and reduces the engine’s longevity.
Some people are not UTV enthusiasts and mainly use their machines for work purposes. If this is the case with you, then you don’t need to change it as often.
So in a case such as this, you would probably need to change the oil once every 60 hours of use or probably once every two months.
When should you charge UTV/ATV battery?
The fact is that if the battery is kept discharged for a long period of time, battery life will definitely be shortened.
Some vehicles such as motorcycles, boats, and ATVs or any type of lead-acid battery should always be left in a fully charged condition.
Like motorcycle batteries, a UTV battery should also not be left without charging.
If a UTV battery is not in use for a long time, sulfation can arise in the battery plate and this causes the batteries function to decrease and ultimately it will become increasingly difficult to charge the battery.
If you are using an automatic battery charger with a standard unit of 120 VAC outlets, the Bacci will remain fully charged and sulfation will be prevented. The average ATV battery is 6amp hours and if charged at 5amps, it will take 1.56 hours to fully charge it.
ATV and UTV batteries typically need to be charged after every use.
UTV Maintenance: Other tips and tricks
Check oil before each ride
This step is probably more important than most people think. In fact, lots of people neglect this step, however, it is an important step in UTV maintenance.
In order to ensure that you are not putting extra strain on your motor, you need to regularly check the oil. It may seem like a tedious task however it could become even costlier if you fail to include this step in your maintenance.
Ultimately failing to change the oil leads to the engine being improperly lubricated and ultimately, it could lock up.
Tire and tread pressure
One of the things that makes the off-road vehicle so useful is being able to tackle rough terrain.
Poorly inflated tires or a worn tread will diminish your UTVs performance and especially its ability to climb steep hills, steadily. This also makes it dangerous for you and your passengers.
Use good fuel
High-octane and high-quality fuel, is what is needed to keep your engine in peak condition and this will save you money over the long run.
Change spark plugs
Some things can wear on your spark plugs such as bad gas. Worn spark plugs decreased the amount of power going to your UTVs engine. Changing the spark plugs is a relatively inexpensive step and it’s quite simple to do.
Ultimately it will help ensure that your vehicle is in pristine condition. It’s generally recommended that you replace your spark plugs after every 100 hours of use. This, however, is assuming your engine is working properly.
If you see any cracks or exposed wires, it’s crucial to get your UTV to a reputable services department. This should be done immediately. Cracks and damages to electrical wires can cause extensive harm to important components in your UTV.
Checking the coolant
Coolant is responsible for keeping the seals cooled and lubricated. This also extends the engine’s life.
Your UTV can run for quite a while on the same coolant however when your engine is exposed to debris and dirt, it diminishes the coolant power. Therefore it’s a good idea to check the levels of the coolant as often as possible.
Check radiator cap
Your radiator cap is responsible for controlling the coolant. This allows the radiator to take more fluid to the engine when he needs it.
If there are breaks or cracks in the radiator cap will interfere with the ability to regulate the pressure, therefore, making it difficult if not impossible to have a good flow of coolant going to the engine.
Whether your UTV is chain or belt-driven, it’s always recommended to check it regularly. If you don’t want to take it into the service center, you can check the tension yourself after each use.
Correct loading for transportation
If you are transporting your ATV or UTV in a truck bed, it’s crucial to have the right equipment to ensure loading is safe and secure.
By investing in long loading ramps, it will allow you to approach at a safe angle and decrease the risk of flipping. The sidewalls help guide the cart up the ramps and prevent driving off the side.
Ratchet straps also help avoid kick out which can send both you and your ATV crashing to the ground. So invest in the right size ramp so that you can make loading goods on and off the truck safe and secure.