Utility Vehicle Maintenance and Spring Cleaning

With spring upon us, many are looking forward to a busy season of new work and projects. But now is also the time to be looking at your utility vehicles and getting them ready to hit the worksite running in peak form.
Raven Honsaker, director of product development from Cushman, offered up a list of regularly scheduled maintenance checks to get your utility vehicles ready for the busy season, as well as keeping them running better and longer.

“A few minutes spent checking the critical components now can save hours of trouble later,” Honsaker says. “We recommend setting up a schedule of maintenance checks to keep your UTVs working as hard as you do.”


Check the inflation to make sure it’s where the manufacturer recommends. If not, inflate to the proper PSI before hitting the road. Also be sure to check the condition of the tires. If you see excessive wear or balding, it’s likely time to replace the tires.

Be sure to use the proper type of tire on your UTV. Tires that are made for turf may not hold up as long on improved surfaces or rougher terrains. Mud tires are more suitable for worksites with a lot of dirt and mud, but DOT-rated street tires should be used when mostly traveling on paved surfaces. Honsaker advises that tire checks be done daily, as atmosphere and the wear and tear of the worksite can take a toll quickly.

“Just like with your automobile, long periods of inactivity and temperature fluctuations can really impact the longevity of your tires,” she says. “Then, once the real work gets going, tires are subjected to all kinds of abuse. Take a quick look everyday to make sure your tires are in good condition.”


Cold weather or long-term storage can cause even the best battery to weaken. This is why Honsaker advises batteries be removed or disconnected for longer periods of inactivity. Once the battery is reinstalled and reconnected, make sure it’s fully charged.

This is also a great time to check for loose connections, corrosion or leaks. If you see any problems, it’s best to investigate and determine if the battery needs to be replaced before it becomes a bigger problem. Once you’re confident in the battery’s condition, check it daily as all-too often terminals can vibrate loose or powered devices can inadvertently be left on, draining even a robust battery overnight.


Before firing up the UTV for the first day on the job, be sure to check all fluid levels, including engine, gearbox and differential case oils. Also make sure the engine coolant and brake fluids are topped off. If they’re low, fill them. If they look bad or are due, change them right away.

Checking the oil every day is also one of the easiest things you can do to head off problems, Honsaker says. Even if you don’t notice oil leaks or spots on the ground, a quick check of the oil is the best insurance your engine can get.

Additionally, read your OEM provided operator’s manual to see how often the manufacturer recommends the oil be changed. Sticking to this schedule ensures a long-life for your engine. Be sure to use only those oils and fluids recommended by the OEM. Now is also the time to check all the grease fittings and lubrication points. Make sure there is no damage to fittings, seals or boots and keep them greased according to the OEM manual specifications.


Check all the filters and air cleaners and replace any that no longer meet the manufacturer’s specs for usage. Filters are there to keep dirt and debris from getting into the vital parts of your UTV’s system. Help them do their job by keeping them clean. Air filters are another good part to check daily, Honsaker says. The dust and dirt of the jobsite can quickly plug up the filter, making it harder for your engine to breathe. This puts excess strain on your engine and can lead to mechanical issues if not mitigated quickly.

Test drive

Now that you have checked all the vital fluids and systems, Honsaker advises taking your utility vehicle out for a shakedown drive. Start the vehicle and let it run for a few minutes. During this time, you should check all the instruments to make sure they are functioning. Listen for any unusual sounds, such as rattles, grinding or sputtering.

If you hear anything odd, check it out before driving the vehicle.

Once you are satisfied everything is working appropriately, take the UTV out for a test drive. Be sure to test the brakes, shifting, speed selection and park brake. If anything seems off, head back to the shop for a closer look. Once you’ve completed the shakedown, shut off the UTV and give everything a last once over, paying attention for oil leaks or other signs of a problem. If everything seems to be OK, you’re ready to work.

Preventative Maintenance

Honsaker recommends period inspections of a few key areas on your UTV to make sure it performs at its peak performance as well as enhancing the lifespan of the vehicle. Again, this is an area where a little time invested now can save a lot more in the future.

Weekly checks should include an inspection of the cooling fan, paying extra close attention to the fan’s fins and cooling housing. Debris can easily start to build up here, significantly reducing the systems efficiency. Fan blades can also be damaged or broken off by worksite debris. This can lead to an unbalanced fan and excessive vibration in the cooling system. Replace damaged fans as soon as possible.

Inspect the radiator grill and all the cooling system hoses, as even a small leak can have large repercussions on engine performance and longevity.

Monthly checks should inspect the suspension system, including axle fluid levels. Common warning signs are unusual noise and loose or missing hardware. Both front and rear suspensions should be examined for oil leaks in the struts, worn bushings and loose or missing hardware. Tighten everything up or replace as needed.

Lastly, give the fuel line and hose connections a look. Fuel leaks can be both costly and also dangerous on the jobsite.

If a leak is found, it needs to be addressed right away.

Air intake hose connections can also become loose or damaged in everyday usage, so give these an examination periodically.

Lastly, Honsaker stresses that keeping your UTV clean is one of the easiest things to do to keep your vehicle in top shape. This makes it easier to notice worn parts and removes dust, dirt and other debris that may otherwise end up in an air or oil filter. Keeping these filters clean, as well as all battery connections, will keep your vehicle up and running for a long time.

“Staying on top of your vehicles’ needs, such as checking filters and oil levels, are really key to maximizing the useful life of your vehicle,” she says. “If you can do that, and also pay attention to not overload the UTV, you’ll get the most productivity possible out of your vehicle.”

Allen Forkner is a technical writer with Swanson Russell.

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