It is no secret that UTVs are exploding in patopularity. They’re catching the attention of experienced OHV owners, but they are also catching the eyes of folks who are new to the off-road world. Both the experienced OHV rider and the first-time owner might find simple maintenance on a UTV daunting. Think of it more like a car. It might take a little more work to get at it. Perhaps you will need to remove an access panel, but the important thing to remember is that the engineers designed it for the average person to do a few of these regular maintenance tasks with the provided tool kit (or even without any tools at all). There are several tasks which are so easy to do, nearly anyone can accomplish them – and they can seriously add to the life of your machine.

Picture of Riders in an Arctic Cat UTV

Simple UTV Maintenance Tasks

Some UTV work is best handled by a professional. But there are several things that almost everyone can do. This article discusses a few of them in brief detail. You should always consult the owner’s manual for your machine before working on your UTV. It explains the best maintenance schedule and procedures for your side-by-side.

Engine Oil

Maxima 10w40 UTV Engine OilEngine oil is undoubtedly one of the most well-known elements of any vehicle. An engine is a complex piece of machinery with many moving parts. Motor oil keeps it lubricated and running efficiently. The type of oil, how much is needed, and where it goes are all listed in the owner’s manual. Make sure to follow it!

  1. Park the UTV on a flat surface.
  2. Locate and remove the engine oil drain plug underneath your UTV.
  3. Drain all of the existing oil out. Store it in a container that you can take to a recycling center. Follow this link to access Earth911’s list of recycling centers in your area.
  4. Now would be a great time to replace your oil filter. Procedures vary widely, so be sure to refer to your owner’s manual. See the next section for some general instructions.
  5. Replace the drain plug.
  6. Remove the oil fill cap on your UTV.
  7. Pour fresh, manufacturer-approved oil into your machine’s engine. Refer to your owner’s manual for engine oil capacity.
  8. Replace the fill cap.
  9. Follow the procedures in your owner’s manual for the correct oil level. Most manufacturers will recommend a short run time before the final check.
  10. If the oil level is too low, follow steps 6-8 to correct it.

Oil Filter

Tusk First Line UTV Oil FilterThe oil filter removes contaminants and debris from your side-by-side’s engine oil. If it is not changed or cleaned over time, it will progressively become less efficient, ultimately leading to decreased performance, increased wear and eventual catastrophic engine failure. As stated above, procedures for changing the oil filter vary widely, and it is recommended that you follow the instructions specific to your machine. They will be found in the owner’s manual.

  1. Locate the oil filter on your UTV’s engine.
  2. Remove the oil filter. The most common type on UTVs is the “spin-on” type. Some oil filters are located in a filter housing. Again, refer to your owner’s manual for procedures.
  3. For a good seal, lubricate the new filter’s O-ring with a small amount of engine oil. It is ideal to replace your filter at the same time that you’re changing the oil so you have fresh, clean oil to use.
  4. Install the new filter.

Air Filter

Different Air FiltersInternal combustion engines require both air and fuel to operate properly. The air filter prevents dirt and dust from becoming part of that mixture. Even a small amount of dust or dirt can damage your engine. If your filter is dirty, you will lose performance. Most UTV air filters are pleated paper and can’t be cleaned. They require replacement. There are aftermarket filters available, and they use varying construction, but most of them require specifically designated filter oil.

  1. Locate the air box on your machine. You can find this information in the owner’s manual.
  2. Clean around the filter housing so that when you remove the filter, residual dirt doesn’t fall into the air intake.
  3. The air filter sits directly inside the air box. Remove the filter.
  4. If your air filter is not paper, it will most likely need to be oiled. Refer to the owner’s manual or aftermarket filter manufacturer for procedures.
  5. Carefully install the new paper or cleaned and re-oiled filter. Remember that the goal is to keep dirt out. Take a second to double check the sealing surfaces and filter retainers.
  6. Replace the air box lid or covers.

As you can see, all of these are simple maintenance tasks that anyone can accomplish. In general, the most difficult part is simply locating where things are on your particular machine. Once you know that, it’s just a matter of removing the old and installing the new.

Do you know your way around a side-by-side’s regular maintenance? In the comments, share with us what else anyone (even newbies) can do when it comes to maintaining a UTV.

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