How do I Make My UTV Safe? A Step-by-Step Guide
Before going out on the trails each spring and each time I ride, I take a few steps to make my UTV safe and prep for any unexpected adventures.
For many UTV and ATV riders, the draw of being out on the trail partially comes from the sense of freedom of disconnecting from the usual and the predictable. We aren’t intimidated by logs on the path or getting stuck. Actually, that’s some of the best fun – overcoming challenges with the help of a well-tuned machine and a little ingenuity.
But whether this is a calculated risk or just fool hearty depends on our preparation, particularly on keeping our UTVs in tip-top shape.
I make my UTV safe by having it thoroughly inspected at the beginning of each season, making sure I’m packing the right safety gear and rechecking its condition every time I take it out. This always takes a little extra time, but it’s worth it when you find yourself in sticky situations, and you know you’re prepared.
Here are the steps I take to make my UTV safe for whatever comes my way on the trail.
Step 1 – Do a Full Maintenance Check
At least once a year, ideally at the beginning of the riding season, give your UTV a complete maintenance inspection. If you’re a trained mechanic, you can do this yourself. If not, it’s worth it to take it to a professional. Either way, here are some of the essential steps in checking your UTV.
Change the oil and filter – You should be checking and topping off your oil every time you ride, but it’s still important to change it out and replace the oil filter regularly. How often depends on how much you ride, but at least once a year is a good start.
Check the coolant – Always ensure your coolant level is full before you begin your riding season and periodically afterward. Also, check the radiator cap and hoses for any cracks or leaks.
Change the air filter – Especially if you enjoy riding on dusty trails, make sure you check the air filter and change or clean it as needed. Again, it’s best to do this before you start taking your UTV out, but occasionally take a peek at it.
Check your drive belt – Make sure the tension is good and look for cracks, frays, or glazing. If it isn’t in like-new condition, replace it.
Check the brakes – This is more than just slamming the brakes to see how well you stop. Check the fluid level, the pad thickness, and the condition of the lines.
Kick the tires – Take a close look at the tread to see if the tire needs to be replaced, check the pressure, and look for any debris or punctures that might lead to a slow leak.
Lube the fittings – Wherever you have moving parts, there is tension. Make sure you’re greasing up all your zerk fittings. They should be pretty easy to spot since they jut out from your UTV.
Check the battery – They go bad after a while, so don’t find yourself out on the trail when your battery decides to stop working. After it’s been sitting for a while is a perfect time to check. Clean off any corrosion and check the electrolyte level if you can.
Change spark plugs – This is easy to overlook, but it’s not hard to do. Your UTV’s manufacturer should recommend how often they need changing, but always check at the beginning of the season. Also, take into account how hard you’re running the engine. You may need to change them more often than recommended.
Step 2 – Carry the Equipment You Need
Even if your UTV is running like a dream when you start, you can’t escape every problem. This is why how you pack your UTV matters. Here are some must-have accessories and supplies.
Extra parts – You never know when a part, even one you just replaced, will fail. At that moment, it’s great to have a replacement. Keep on hand extra spark plugs, a drive belt, tie rods, ball joints, an axel, and a spare tire.
Tools – This includes whatever you might need to fix your UTV, including screwdrivers, pliers, a socket wrench set, electrical tape, a headlamp, a tire repair kit, and an air compressor.
Winch and tow rope – This may be the only thing that gets you out of many sticky situations. Make sure your winch is strong enough to pull the weight of your UTV, or you may just burn it out before it does the job.
First-Aid kit – You never know what injuries you might sustain in the bush. Most kits come standard with most things everyone might need. If you have allergies, asthma, or take medication, make sure you include what you need personally.
Cell phone – In an emergency, you want to be able to reach help. If you’re in a place where you have cell phone service, great. Just make sure you have a reliable way to charge your phone. If not, think about bringing a handheld transceiver or a satellite phone. Your cell phone GPS will work even if you don’t have service, which can keep you from getting lost.
Step 3 – Do a Once-Over Before Each Ride
Giving your UTV a complete maintenance check in the spring isn’t enough to ensure your safety. Every time you go out, check critical parts, top off fluids, and look for damage that might have occurred on your last ride. Take at least a quick look at everything we listed in the maintenance section.
Step 4 – Always Clean Your UTV
This isn’t just for aesthetics. Keeping your UTV clean helps prevent corrosion and build-up that could affect your UTV’s performance. It also allows you to better see problems that might otherwise be covered in mud. So hose your UTV down and give it a good visual inspection after each trail run.
Step 5 – Get Outfitted with UTV Windshields and Accessories
Having a clear windshield is one of the most important ways I make my UTV safe. It improves visibility and protects from low-hanging branches and airborne debris.
We carry windshields for most makes and models of UTVs and many accessories to make your ride safe and enjoyable. Check out our online store and contact us to get what you need for your next trail ride.