Your side-by-side is perfectly capable of navigating through the snow. Winter months are a great time to extend your UTV riding. They can be used for fun or as a way to plow your driveway. UTVs are made to handle any kind of terrain, including winter wonderlands. However, the cold will affect it just like any other machine, so you will need to winterize it and take precautions to get the most out of your snow days.
There are a lot of winter accessories that you can use on your UTV to get it kitted out for the colder months. This includes windshields, plows, weather-appropriate tires, and even cab heaters to keep you nice and toasty as you enjoy your ride.
As long you winterize your UTV, there is no need for the frills and whistles, though. You can keep it simple and enjoy another few months out of the year on your favorite ride.
Although your vehicle is designed to run overall terrains, you will notice some differences in the handling depending on what type of weather you are dealing with.
For example, several feet of beautiful fluffy snow might handle better than a few inches of slush over ice. Before going out to ride, take a look at the expected weather, so you will not be caught unprepared.
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A lot of people spend the winter riding around on UTVs or snowmobiles going across forest paths or ice fishing on frozen lakes. The latter can be dangerous if you are not aware of ice safety tips. If the ice is less than 5 inches thick, then it cannot hold the weight of a UTV.
Related reading: Ice Fishing Side-by-Sides [Guide]
When in doubt, avoid the ice. If it is a large lake, then you will want to re-measure the ice thickness every one hundred and fifty feet so you will be aware of it is thinning in the direction of your travel. Tracks can be useful when riding on ice.
Preparing your UTV for snow and cold weather
It is essential to make sure that your UTV is prepared for the winter a little in advance. Do not wait until after the hard cold sets in because by that time, there might already be some damage to your vehicle or, at the very least, it might be harder to change out the fluids.
To make sure your UTV starts and runs like a charm during the colder weather, you will want to switch out the coolant with antifreeze.
Winter tires and tracks
You can choose between purchasing winter tires for your UTV or getting some all-terrain tires that handle snow well so that you will not need to switch them out again when summer swings around.
Even mud tires can work if you plan to only ride in areas that do not have significant snow cover such as plowed roads and trails. There are winter tires you can use if your UTV is necessary for your livelihood or if you live in a more rural area.
If you live in an area with especially bad weather and you want to do some winter off-roading, then you can also use ATV tracks on your UTV for easier traveling through snow. Most ATV tracks need only a little hardware and brackets to get them fitted to your UTV.
These tracks are going to be most useful if you plan to do a lot of riding through areas where it might be hard to get traction for regular tires, such as frozen lakes with layers of slush, or deep snowy mountain terrains. Tracks should not be needed for roads or maintained paths.
Various types of windshields can be fitted to your UTV. They include half-fitted, full fitted, and lifted windshields. These are a great way to keep the snow out and the heat in during longer runs. If you have a cab heater, then it is highly recommended to have a windshield as well. Price ranges for them are between $140 to $400 plus for new.
Should you decide to use your UTV for plowing your property. There are several different kinds of snowplow attachments that you can use, so make sure that you have the right one for your needs and the UTV that you own.
They come in straight and v-shaped blade options with advantages to each. The main difference between these two designs is that a v-shaped blade will help you direct the snow to specific areas, but if you only need to clear space, then the straight edge will do the job nicely.
You can find UTV plows at fisherplows.com.
It is a good idea to have a winch if you intend to do a lot of off-roading in remote areas so that you will have the ability to get yourself unstuck. This is not necessary if you intend to only use it around your property or on a worksite.
In some areas, even the main roads can become impassable, so it can be helpful to keep a pair of tire chains at hand for your UTV in case you need to make the trip across them. Generally, this is not something that you will need for winter UTV riding.
Still, if you live in rural Alaska, Montana, or other isolated areas that see a lot of snow over winter, it might prove useful to keep them on hand.
It does not matter if you have a solid or cloth roof, but you will want to have some kind of covering to help keep the weather out and the heat of the cab inside.
If you plan to go out in drifts of snow, then you will want some way to keep your windshield clear of buildup. There are many wiper kits that are useful. This can also help with visibility if you get caught in a winter storm.
The UTV cab heaters are pretty affordable and do not take up much space, so you will be able to fit them in comfortably. You can get some as cheap as $40 while others run up to $400 depending on what features you want and if you have a contained cab or not.
When preparing for winterizing your vehicle, it is a good idea to have an extra belt so that if your UTV works itself through one belt, you will not have to wait for another. This is especially important if the UTV is used for your livelihood or is the only form of transportation you will have through the winter months.
Staying warm while riding
Layers are your friend when going out in the winter. They can offer some mild protection in the event of a turnover or other accident, and they will help keep out the worst of the cold.
Be sure to wear some kind of facemask. A balaclava is an excellent choice because it covers a larger area of skin. In addition to a facemask, it is good to have a thick coat with a hood and also an ear band.
The more you are wearing, the harder it will be to maneuver, but the warmer you will be. Finding a balance between the two is ideal. You want to be still able to move and react without significant restriction while conserving your body heat.
Always be prepared
Although no one likes to think about it as something that could happen to them, it is possible that you might become stuck out in the freezing weather alone if something happens to your vehicle.
Here are a few tips for keeping yourself safe and prepared before going out if you intend to go into the mountains or a hard to reach place.
- Let someone know where you are going
- Shovel (in case you need to dig a tire out if you get stuck)
- Rope (a winch works excellent as well)
- Matches (waterproof is best)
- Enough food and water for two days (a safety pack including these is a great thing to keep on hand anyway when riding no matter what the weather)
- A small medical kit that includes a space blanket
- A change of clothes, because if you are riding on ice and fall through and get wet the cold could kill you if you are not prepared
Those are just a couple of steps you can take that will keep you much safer and ready to face unseen eventualities while you are out on your UTV.
These are precautions and having the peace of mind knowing they are in place will give you that much more enjoyment out of your ride.
Enjoy the snow
The joy of a side-by-side is that you can share the experience with someone else. Or the whole family in a 4 seater UTV.
Now that you know how to be prepared for some great winter riding, there is nothing else to do but figure out where you can have the most fun with your UTV and a few friends.