Tips for Making the Most of Your UTV in the Winter Months
UTVs get a lot of use in Canada, not to mention around the world. These versatile vehicles are just as often used for leisure as they are for work and the changing seasons don’t put a damper on that.
Winter is no exception, and, in fact, is one of the best months to get out in your UTV…
…provided you’ve got the right gear and accessories, of course!
With a bit of planning and prep, you can use your side-by-side no matter how cold the weather gets. We’ve put together a few helpful tips to get you started, in addition to recommendations and suggestions to get you inspired.
Stay Up-to-Date on UTV Maintenance
The best UTV to take to snowy trails is, of course, a working UTV. Make sure you keep up with your regular maintenance schedule, especially in the winter. A well-serviced vehicle is a safe and reliable vehicle, after all.
If you overlooked any minor maintenance issues in the summer and fall, cold weather could worsen them come winter. There’s nothing worse than breaking down on the trail, except of course if you broke down on the trail in -20 weather. You can handle most common maintenance issues yourself, too:
- Lubricating all grease fittings;
- Checking tire pressure;
- Checking fluid levels—such as antifreeze; and
- Testing your drum brakes. If frozen, tap the drum with a hammer or stick, or rock the machine back and forth to free the brakes and thaw the frozen water.
If you’re feeling a bit unsure of where to start, check your owner’s manual. It will include plenty of info about standard operations and basic maintenance, not to mention a comprehensive maintenance schedule to follow. This’ll let you know, generally, when you can expect to replace engine belts, tires, brakes, and so on.
You can also bring your UTV in for a professional tune-up at your local Honda UTV dealer to keep your ride in top condition.
Take Care of Your Engine in the Cold
Cold winter mornings take their toll on all vehicle engines and transmissions, and UTVs are no different. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for warming up your UTV engine. Using a temperature gauge, you can ensure your engine reaches the optimal operating temperature before you start driving in the cold.
You can also use a block heater to keep the engine warm overnight and improve its chances of starting in the morning. Switching your engine oil to a lighter weight in winter can also make warming up and starting your engine easier.
While using your UTV in heavy snow drifts, keep an eye out for packed snow on the radiator. Too much packed snow can actually cause the radiator to overheat since it won’t have proper air ventilation.
Lastly, if you decide to clean your UTV in the winter, only use warm water and mild soap to wash it so you can prevent any components from freezing.
Add Snow Accessories
To make the most of your UTV in tough Canadian winters, consider investing in the following winter accessories:
Snow Plows & Blades
UTVs make for excellent snowplows in winter. So if you have a lot of snow to clear, consider adding a snow plow attachment to your UTV. With a snow plow, you can easily clear pathways, driveways, and trails without breaking a sweat or your back.
Winter attachments for UTVs include V-shaped plows, snow blades, snow blowers, and sweepers.
While you’re out plowing snow this winter, you can improve your comfort and stay warm with a full-cab enclosure for your UTV. These enclosures keep the cold air and winter elements out of the cab for longer. And many even come with heaters so you can stay warm while spending long periods of time in your UTV.
Look for quality cab enclosures that are airtight, soundproof, and rattle-free. These will keep the cold air and noise out, further improving your comfort. Some full-cab enclosures also have defrosters and defoggers to help improve visibility in winter.
For even more warmth and comfort while out in the snow, seat, grip, and thumb warmers are also available. And don’t forget to dress for the weather. Warm winter clothes and gear will keep you dry and toasty for longer in sub-zero temperatures.
Invest in Good Tires
Like with road vehicles, there are different sets of tires for UTVs to match the terrain you’re driving on. In winter, you put winter tires on your car or truck so you can have a good grip on snow and ice. And the same goes for UTVs.
Along with tires used for working with your UTV, or racing along trails, there are also tires made for use on snowy and icy terrain. So consider investing in a full set of quality snow tires that suit your winter terrain so you can handle the winter landscape safely and with ease and full control, having a good grip on the snow and ice.
For example, some winter tires come with ice spikes for use in icy conditions, while others are snow specific. And for deep snow, track systems are available so you can drive in any depth of snow without sinking in.
Before going out into the snow, always check that your tires are properly aired up. Tire air pressure drops with the temperature, so always check the air pressure before going out in your UTV.
While you might be tempted to only invest in two snow tires instead of four, the difference in tread between the new and old tires will lead to an uneven rear- and front-axle grip. As a result, you might encounter problems with steering and fishtailing.
Whether in snow or shine, safety should always be your top priority when driving your UTV. So always fasten your seat belt before driving. And make sure the seat belts are fastened for any passengers as well. When driving with poor visibility or wet, snowy, or icy conditions, slow down.
And make sure to let a friend or family member know when you’re going out on your UTV, where you plan to go, and when you plan to be back. Bring a cell phone or two-way radio with you in case you get stuck. Some two-way radios even have GPS monitoring capabilities, so if you do get stuck, and you’re not sure where you are, your friend on the other radio can easily find you with the GPS monitor.
Enjoy your Honda UTV to the fullest this winter with these industry tips. A bit of work and precaution can go a long way to ensure you have a safe and comfortable ride all winter long.