UTV vehicles are expensive, so if you want your machine to last for years and deliver peak performance, you should have a serious approach to its maintenance. Whether you’re a die-hard or a seasonal UTV driver, if you don’t maintain your four-wheeler, you won’t be doing much rock crawling, trail riding, and duning. As the temperatures begin to cool and the dry conditions in OHV (Off-Highway Vehicles) areas become more bearable, UTV lovers begin to inspect their vehicles to prepare them for the season.
The truth is, it doesn’t take that much to follow a maintenance schedule and keep your UTV in top condition – check your oil, keep up with filter changes, monitor fluid levels, and observe tire pressures. Storing your UTV for 6-8 months at a time can lead to degradation of fluids or components, which is especially true for vehicles left outside, exposed, or uncovered. And it’s even worse if you didn’t clean off the mud and dirt before storing it away for the off-season. MX PowerPlay brings you a list of basic UTV maintenance tips that will help you get your vehicle ready for action and extend the life of your machine. As always, the two essential tips to begin with include referencing the manual for the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance and seeing what other UTV owner tips to extend the life of your vehicle.
1. Changing the differential fluid
The components of UTV vehicles suffer the stress of hard performance and extra weight. It concentrates intense pressure on gears. The gear teeth are coated with a lubricant that guards against wear and metal-to-metal contact. The extra stress and high heat can squeeze the lubricant from between the gears, causing them to wear. Therefore, you need to check and change the differential fluid regularly according to the recommendations you find in the owner’s manual.
By changing differential fluid, you will provide improved film strength that will protect bearings and gears in the toughest conditions. Anyone who has done it before knows how much of a hassle it could be to reach the fill holes. You could use a gear-lube pump to access fill holes around obstacles and in tight spaces.
2. Stabilizing the fuel
When gas breaks down, the varnish is formed inside your UTV’s carburetor. In as little as 30 days, it can clog the small fuel passages, preventing fuel-flow and keeping your engine from starting. Be sure to add a stabilizer whenever you refuel your tank because it inhibits the oxidation process that occurs when fuel sits in the tank for long periods. You can skip it if you know that you are going to burn through a whole tank quickly, but in reality, many UTV drivers run on the same tank for weeks or even months. If that’s the case, you need to add a stabilizer to prevent varnish formation, keep the carburetor clean, and allow for unobstructed fuel system flow.
3. Check oil level and change the oil
Checking and changing the motor oil is an essential step in vehicle maintenance (regardless if you’re driving an off-roader or an ordinary street vehicle). It is especially important for ATV and UTV machines because of the aggressive riding or hard work, so perform the checks and changes according to the recommendations in the owner’s manual. Just like with differential fluid, the added stress causes the engine to heat, causing oils to become thinner (lose viscosity). That engine oil cannot develop an oil film of adequate strength or thickness to protect against wear and tear. Furthermore, sludge is formed as a result of extreme heat and can clog important oil passages. Your engine will be deprived of oil, while oil deposits will stick piston rings and cause further power loss.
The best defense against power loss and engine wear is for the engine to get a good clean and oil change regularly; make sure to use high-quality, synthetic oil. Synthetic oils last longer and deliver better performance because they don’t contain impurities like conventional lubricants. It does cost more, but you shouldn’t think twice about spending more on such an important upgrade for your machine.
4. Spark plugs and electrical wiring
Spark plugs can get worn out (due to bad gas) and reduce the amount of power going to the engine. Luckily, changing worn-out spark plugs is inexpensive and easy to do. A general rule of thumb is to change spark plugs after 100 hours of use. Also, if you see any exposed wires, wear, tear, and cracks – take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic or service department as soon as possible. Damaged wires or cracks can cause harm to critical components of your off-road vehicle.
5. Air filter
Fuel, air, and spark the three things that every engine needs in order to run. Most drivers forget air because they don’t have to pay for it, but a clogged and dirty air filter can obstruct the airflow and cause the engine to quit or reduce its performance. Also, a dirty air filter allows dust and debris to enter the engine, causing it to wear faster. To know how often you should change the air filter, check your owner’s manual. Check the air filter regularly, and if it’s excessively dirty, change it. You can extend filter life by using a pre-filter – a mesh bag that you fasten over the air filter to capture debris and contaminants and keep them from getting into the air filter.
6. Brake system
Your UTV brake fluid should last several seasons, depending on how hard you push your UTV. Give your brake fluid a quick check at the start of each season to make sure that it’s at the right level, there is no debris or contaminants in the reservoir, and it isn’t burnt. Inspect the brake lines to see whether all fittings are tight, that there’s no leakage anywhere, and there are no rotting lines or nicks. When refilling or bleeding fluid, make sure to follow the recommendations printed on the top of the cap.
As for the brake pads, they should also last for a few seasons unless heavily stressed. To inspect them thoroughly, remove each wheel from your UTV to see both the front and rear pads. If the pads are not within spec, you can order high-quality brake pads from an aftermarket manufacturer and replace them. Also, make sure there is no debris or rocks lodged in the calipers and check for fluid leakage in the banjo bolts.
To take care of your UTV battery, hook it to a maintenance device (e.g., battery charger) before you store the vehicle away for the winter. Otherwise, you may not have any juice when the time comes to start the engine again. The maintenance charger will give your UTV battery the energy it needs to stay in top-notch condition. If your battery is located behind a seat that’s bolted in place, it is hard to reach. The best solution is to remove the seat and install a disconnect pigtail onto the battery. That will allow you to access the battery with the seat still in place.
Tires naturally lose air over time, and you should keep tires pumped at the right pressure, especially if your UTV has been stationary for some time. Allowing a tire to sit flat or underinflated for a long time can result in wear/damage or acceleration of cracks in the sidewall (especially with tires that have been exposed to moist conditions, mud, or heat while sitting. Air them up and listen or look to hear/see if there are any gashes, cuts, or holes. If the tires don’t appear to be losing pressure or you don’t hear any hissing, they are still in good condition. Make sure you don’t underinflate or overinflate.
Whether it’s an ATV or UTV, off-road vehicles are meant to get dirty. But that doesn’t mean they should remain filthy either; therefore, wash your UTV periodically. Wash off debris and mud, especially after a ride, because dirt and mud trap moisture, which can speed up rust formation on metal components like nuts and bolts. Engines run better when they are clean, so don’t neglect cleaning the engine, particularly if you suspect grime has accumulated there. Also, dirt can pack in around the differentials or engine and decrease heat transfer, causing the temperature to go up. It hastens the rate at which the lubricant oxidizes, reducing the efficiency and performance of your UTV. Consider using an undercoat product that will provide a protective layer against snow, dirt, and mud, making cleanup with a garden hose fairly easy.
When you notice that your air filter, spark plugs, brake pads, or other parts have come to the end of the road, you will need a replacement. At MX PowerPlay, we know that machines run best when they’re taken care of. We are a certified aftermarket seller of high-quality parts specializing in off-road vehicles. So whether it’s UTV or ATV maintenance, feel free to visit our website and contact us for more information about our products. Let’s talk about your UTV or ATV tires, coolant levels for your cooling system, oil and filter needs, or any UTV maintenance questions you may have.