How To Troubleshoot Your UTV That Is Not Working

Whether you have a UTV for its stellar racing capabilities, increased safety features (compared to an ATV), or a combination of the two, you are likely no stranger to running into issues with your utility task vehicle.

A lot can go wrong with these fun little recreational vehicles, but for almost every problem, there is a fairly simple solution. Below are some of the most common UTV issues and how you can fix them.

Why is Your UTV Not Working?

Like any motorized vehicle, a UTV is susceptible to a variety of problems. While battery charge is a common issue, so are things like:

  • Clogged air filter
  • Oil and coolant issues
  • Battery problems
  • Low tire pressure
  • Spark plug or radiator cap issues
  • Driveline mishaps (worst case)

Almost all of these issues are things that you can solve right in your own garage, front yard- wherever it is you keep your UTV. It is advised that if you detect a driveline issue, you take your UTV to a trained professional to be fixed.

Your Air Filter Is Clogged

If your UTV engine is making funny noises, this could be indicative of a range of problems. Again, a professional will be able to give you a faster diagnosis, but if you are willing to do some investigating and have a solid knowledge of your particular UTV (or a user manual on hand), then this can be fixed from home.

The engine could not be noisy and not starting for a few different reasons, but a clogged air filter is the most common (and easily fixed) engine-related issue on your UTV.

Clogged air filters can cause spark plug problems that are much harder to fix, so a good rule of thumb is to change the air filter and oil filter each time you change your oil. But if your engine is running rough, turn it off and check the air filter first and foremost.

When the air filter is clogged, it runs too much fuel for the amount of air intake. That, in turn, makes the engine run noticeably rougher and will likely produce an odd sound.

Turn off your UTV, let it cool down as it will also run hotter in these instances, and then replace the air filter.

Your UTV Has Oil or Coolant Issues

Ideally, you would check your oil between each use. It is essential in keeping your motor healthy, as long rides are going to burn a considerable amount of oil.

Consistently topping it off your oil keeps your UTV motor healthy and also allows you to keep a close eye on levels and other problems that could be occurring under the hood.

The coolant also needs to regularly be replaced and maintained, and the radiator cap needs to be kept tight. When changing your oil before every ride, you can quickly check these elements off your list as well. Regular maintenance in these areas can prevent a lot of problems from occurring, and you will be able to rule those options out should you be diagnosing a UTV issue.

Battery Problems Will Cause Your UTV to Stall

Batteries last a fairly long time, so you shouldn’t encounter any issues. After around three to five years, depending on your UTV, the battery is likely going to require some maintenance. Some things that can affect the lifetime of your battery include:

  • Frequency. If you are a frequent UTVer on the weekends, or throughout all seasons, your battery’s life will definitely be shorter-lived than an infrequent rider’s.
  • Climate. Temperature can also negatively affect your battery.
  • Battery charger. Something as simple as your battery charger can affect the lifespan of your battery. It is recommended that you keep your original charger if possible.
  • Storage. Unless you are keeping the UTV in temperature-controlled conditions, the battery is going to die quicker. There are definitely some elements that are harder to control than others but staying on top of your battery care with a quality charger and expecting to replace it based on your usage can help you stay ahead of battery problems.

So, if you cannot get it to charge, it is absolutely a battery issue. If you cannot start it, much like any normal vehicle, it is a battery issue. Any abnormal engine sound can definitely be a result of a battery problem. It is worthwhile to check your battery before you call it quits on your engine because it is much cheaper and easier to replace.

Invest in a Multimeter

A multimeter can also help you diagnose a battery problem quickly. Dependent upon the read, you can assess if your battery needs a charge, will not charge, etc. The accuracy can assure you as to whether or not your battery is faulty or if it could be a bigger issue with the engine. These are fairly inexpensive and worthwhile keeping around if you are an avid UTV rider. (Source:

Spark Plug and Radiator Cap Issues Causing Trouble

Sputtering noises from your UTV can be caused by worn-out spark plugs. Check them regularly for corrosion and replace any that look suspect. Also, make sure the wires leading to the spark plugs aren’t loose or corroded. If you don’t know how to spot a bad plug, check out this video:

To find out if your ATV is getting a spark to the engine:

  • Find the ignition coil and take it out to find the spark plug.
  • Take out the spark plug and put it into the ignition coil.
  • Turn the key in the ignition.
  • Hold the metal of the spark plug to the metal of the motor.
  • You should see a spark. If you don’t see a spark, you’ve got an issue.

If there is an issue with your radiator cap, you may end up with coolant leaks and an overheated engine. Make sure it’s tight and in good shape, or the fluid will overflow, the engine will overheat – and your engine won’t work.

Driveline Issues Are a Serious Problem

The driveline is the belt that sends engine power to the wheels of your UTV. Issues with this element of your UTV could be serious, as it could get stuck in different parts of the mechanism.

If you suspect this is happening, or if the driveline seems too loose, the best option is to take it in. It could be caught or tangled in a lot of different ways, and it may require some disassembling of your UTV.

How to Prevent Driveline Issues

There are measures you can take to prevent these types of issues from going past the point of no return and requiring a professional:

  • Regularly lubricating your driveline with chain oil
  • Checking in on the tension of your driveline frequently

Keep Up with Your UTV for the Best Ride

If you are keeping up with all of these little details regularly, you will be able to weigh out a lot of minor issues when you experience a malfunction pre or post-ride. Maintaining battery health and keeping good fuel in your UTV will keep the engine run longer and smoother.

Experiencing bigger issues such as your battery not charging or malfunctions with your engine can be obvious as times, but it is also a good idea to go to a professional if you suspect it could be a serious issue or an issue with the driveline. Some things are harder to see without the right equipment and much harder to fix.

Most of the general rules of car maintenance apply to your UTV. With seasonal and daily upkeep, you can extend the life of your UTV’s many parts and minimize any major issues. It is important to attend to the smaller details and hopefully diagnose any mishap quickly.