What Should I Look For When Buying A UTV?

What is a UTV, and what should you look for when purchasing one? In this article, we describe UTVs, compare and contrast them to ATVs and provide smart tips on what you should look for when purchasing a UTV for your farm. Read on to learn more on what should you look for in a UTV.

What Does UTV Mean?

what does utv mean

UTV can mean “utility terrain vehicle”, or it can mean “utility task vehicle”. The common thread is “utility”. Your choice of meaning lies in your choice of use.

If you’re planning to use your UTV for recreation, you’ll probably tend more towards “terrain”. If you are planning on using your UTV for farm or jobsite work, you’ll probably tend more towards “task”.

You may also hear UTV’s referred to as “side-by-side’s”. Some people shorten that to “SxS”. The reason for this nickname is that the driver and the passenger sit side-by-side.

Another nickname that is sometimes used for UTV’s is “recreational off-highway vehicle”. This is sometimes shortened to ROV.

Sometimes old hands will call UTV’s by their model names. For this reason, you may hear them referred to simply as:

  • Ranger
  • Gator
  • Rhino
  • Mule
  • RZR

As you become more experienced, you’ll immediately recognize these names.

What Are the Different Types of UTV’s?

Although different manufacturers may have dozens of models of UTV’s on offer, there are basically only three different types. They are:

1. A sport UTV is strictly designed for sport. It can go high speeds and handle racing, sand dunes and challenging trails.

2. A utility UTV is intended for work around job sites and on farms. They excel at towing and hauling.

3. A sport/utility UTV is extremely versatile. While not quite nimble enough for racing, you can still enjoy trail riding. You can also make good use of your UTV to do chores around the farm (instead of a tractor), haul wood and even tow a trailer.

What Is The Best Brand Of UTV?

There are many excellent brand names, and your choice among them will depend a great deal on what you want. Think about your precise needs and shop carefully across the board to find the brand and model that provides the features that are most important to you within your price range.

When making your choice, you should also evaluate the dealerships available to you. Be sure to read reviews carefully, and choose a dealership that is near enough to you to make it easy to get your new purchase home! You can use a trailer for example.

Should You Get An ATV Or UTV?

should you get an atv or utv

So which one? UTVs or ATVs?

If you’re looking for a recreational off road machine that is fairly easy on the pocketbook and just right for you, and you alone, you’ll want an ATV. If you need more space for passengers, and you have a little more money to spend, you may want a UTV.

Note that there are some ATVs designed to carry more than one passenger, but you should never ride double on an ATV designed for only one.

There are also ATVs that are designed for utility. These can be used to ride trails and to do a little work, but not the volume or weight of work that can be accomplished with a UTV.

A utility ATV can carry a little weight, push a plow and pull a trailer, but not with the strength of a UTV. UTV’s can carry up to 1000 pounds; push a snow plow; provide transportation for half a dozen people and tow a good-sized trailer.

UTVs are also quite a bit safer than ATVs because they have built-in rollover protection structures (ROPS). Even so, you should keep in mind that you’ll need to wear a helmet, and so will your passengers when traveling in the UTV. Naturally, you must always wear a helmet when riding an ATV as well.

What Should You Look For When Buying A Used UTV?

what should you look for when buying a used utv

With UTV’s getting better and better all the time, lots of people who already own one are looking to upgrade and are selling their old ones. This means there are quite a few good machines on the market. Smart shopping can get you an excellent deal although UTVs are generally an expensive purchase.

Here are the 15 things you should look out for:

1. Does it start right up?

When you turn the key, does the engine turn over? If there’s any drag, it’s a sign of trouble.

2. Look for a non-smoking machine

When the engine is running, does smoke pour from the exhaust? This could mean upcoming expenses!

3. Avoid slipping and sliding

When you go for a test ride, does it feel like the CVT belt is slipping? This could be minor, in that you might just need to replace the belt. On the other hand, it could be an indication of trouble with the clutch. Replacing an automatic transmission is a spendy proposition!

4. Look for power

If your test drive reveals that the machine is weak and gutless, obviously you don’t want it. UTVs can (be made to) go very fast generally.

5. Strength and stability are key

If the ride feels wobbly and hard to control, there may be problems with the steering and/or the suspension. This is definitely a deal killer.

6. “Whoa” is as important as “Go”!

You definitely want to have good brakes, but weak brakes are not necessarily a deal killer. Replacing the brakes is a fairly minor repair.

7. How hard has it been ridden?

Check the hour meter or the odometer to determine how much use the vehicle has had for its age.

8. How does it look?

Has this vehicle been wrecked or rolled over? How does the interior look like? Check it over for serious damage, warped frame and the like.

9. Has it been professionally serviced?

Examine carefully and look under the hood to evaluate the quality of servicing and upgrades that the machine has received.

10. Check the oil

It should be at least relatively clean and should have no bad odor. If it’s very dirty and seems to be old, this tells you that this machine has not been well maintained.

11. Check the coolant

It should be full strength, and it should be orange or green. If it is any other color or it seems to be diluted with water, this is a bad sign because old or diluted coolant can cause engine corrosion.

12. Open the gas tank and determine whether the gas smells fresh

If it smells old and rancid, there may be fuel injection system or carburetor trouble.

13. Look at the CV boots

If they are cracked and/or torn, you’ll know that this vehicle has had hard use and you’ll need to rebuild or replace the axles. Also check to see if the machine still has stock axles. In a used machine, you can be pretty sure you’ll need to replace stock axles soon.

14. Examine the frame for bends and cracks

These are usually caused by major accidents and are a reason to simply not purchase that machine.

15. Check The Tires and Wheels

Inspect the tires and wheels for any defects. Worn and/or damaged tires are both illegal and dangerous.

16. Evaluate upgrades and add-ons

Some upgrades and additions make the UTV more valuable. Others may actually take away from its value. This is often dependent on how well the work has been done. Amateur improvements (e.g. DIY windshields) should be looked at with skepticism.

If it’s something that you can fix or undo easily, this sort of “feature” can be a good bargaining point.

Buying A Used UTV – What To Look For

Evaluate The Seller

Size the seller up. If he or she seems cagey; doesn’t want you to perform a thorough inspection or seems to evade your questions, shop elsewhere. Ideally, the seller should be forthcoming and should be able to provide you with a good written history of the vehicle’s maintenance and upkeep.

If the seller does not want to tell you what they used the UTV for or how hard they used it, beware! Conversely, be cautious if the seller has a long, detailed and seemingly rehearsed story to tell.

Information about the vehicle’s upkeep and its registration history (here is where to place a registration on a UTV) should be in writing, straightforward and verifiable.

Engage Assistance!

Whether you are or aren’t an expert at evaluating UTV’s and bargaining, it is always helpful to have a second set of eyes. Bring along a mechanic or just a friend so that you can step aside and consult and take a few moments to think before making decisions. This can give you both a practical and psychological advantage.

1 thought on “What Should I Look For When Buying A UTV?”

  1. I have a budget of around $10,000. Do you think it is enough to purchase an UTV? And what are your recommendations?


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