Off-Road Utility Vehicle

Off-Road Utility Vehicle Ownership and Maintenance Guide

You can’t deny it; off-roading is fun. To be able to drive down roads that nobody else can access, and see some incredible, wild places is worth the cost of having an off-road utility vehicle.

They aren’t exactly cheap to purchase. And even when you buy a car that can handle driving off-road, it’s going to require some serious upgrades to turn it into an extreme off road vehicle.

And once you start taking your vehicle on rough roads, you’re going to need to perform tons of maintenance to ensure the car stays up to spec. Driving down insanely bumpy roads for hours on end has the potential of knocking a few things loose.

The last thing you want is for your car to break down miles from civilization where a tow truck or rescue vehicle won’t be able to reach you. Keep reading to learn how to take care of small off road vehicles.

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Inspect Your Tires

Your tires, and wheel system as a whole, is vital to your success when driving offroad. It’s likely that you’ve already invested in quality wheels, such as Grid Off-Road wheels. But now it’s time to take care of them.

Before and after each drive, check the tires. When driving off-road, maintaining your tread is even more important than in a standard vehicle. Stick a coin into various grooves on each of your tires to ensure there’s enough tread left for safe driving.

If necessary, you can rotate the tires to squeeze more life out of them before replacing them. When you do replace them, make sure the old ones get recycled, as you can’t throw tires into the landfill.

Also, make sure there are no punctures in the tires. Sticks, sharp rocks, and even nails aren’t uncommon in the backcountry. If you have a puncture, it’s best to replace the tire rather than patch it, since off-roading is so demanding on your tires. 

Check the Battery

If your utility vehicle has been sitting for a long period of time, such as during the long, cold winter, the battery may not function properly. You want to ensure it can start up and maintain power multiple times before taking it off-road.

If the battery has been sitting unused for months on end, it might be worth replacing for one that is going to work well all season long. When storing your vehicle for the winter, it’s best to remove the battery and store it in the home, rather than leaving it to deal with freezing cold temperatures each day.

Old batteries also need to be recycled, as they can’t go into the landfill thanks to the poisonous compounds inside the battery. Take it to your local auto shop when you are buying a new one.

Maintain Fluid Levels

It’s easy to forget about your fluids. They are unseen and unimportant in many people’s eyes. But actually, they are vital to your vehicle’s performance. Without the right fluids, your vehicle can’t run at all.

Check the oil and replace it if it’s noticeably dirty. Because the engine of your utility vehicle is working so hard, it produces a lot of heat. Plus, it’s often used for hours on end, climbing over hills, debris, and sand dunes.

In order to keep your engine cool and functional, this oil has to work hard. It also means more frequent changes than you would in your standard vehicle. 

Off-road vehicles also require special types of motor oil with additional additives that can better support the extreme demand of these vehicles. And when you change the oil, make sure to also add a new oil filter to maximize the oil’s useful lifespan and effectiveness.

Also, check the level of coolant and brake fluid, and always ensure you have a full tank of gas when leaving on a drive. You never know when you are going to get distracted and drive further and longer than you anticipated. 

Keep Your Off-Road Utility Vehicle Clean

After each drive, you should give your vehicle a bath. Because dirt and mud can really be caked on your vehicle, using a pressure washer with adjustable settings is easier than spraying it with a hose.

Use it to remove dirt, then scrub with soapy water. Use a leaf blower to forcefully air dry your vehicle, to prevent water from sitting on it for long periods of time, especially if it’s cold outside. 

Winterize Your Vehicle

Winterizing your off-road vehicle can mean two different things. Either you are storing your vehicle for the winter, as you have no use for it when the snow is falling. Or you are preparing your vehicle for use in the snow.

Either way, you need to take special precautions to ensure safety throughout the long, cold winters. 

When it comes to storage, the first thing you need to do is remove all of the old fuel. You can do this by driving around nearby until your tank runs out of gas. Then, siphon out any remaining fuel reside to ensure an empty tank. Alternatively, you can add a fuel stabilizer to your gas to ensure it doesn’t go bad and ruin your vehicle. 

You should also replace all other fluids in the vehicle just before storage so that your vehicle is full of clean fluids that won’t degrade or cause corrosion. 

Clean the air filter and seal off the air intake opening to prevent any unwanted visitors from hibernating inside. As mentioned earlier, remove the battery and keep it inside the house where it doesn’t have to fight freezing temperatures. Make sure to clean off any dirt or corrosion. 

If you have a garage, barn, or large shed, store your vehicle inside it with an additional cover placed over top. It’s best to buy some jacks so you can lift the vehicle off the wheels for the duration of the winter, preventing unnecessary strain on the tires and suspension.

Off-Road Vehicles are Worth the Effort

Yes, maintaining your off-road utility vehicle takes time and effort. But if you’re willing to put in the work, it will provide endless years of fun and function. Even the best off road vehicles require regular cleaning and maintenance, so make sure to factor that in when you are considering one.

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