Snow, ice, mud, wind, and freezing temperatures—facing these winter weather conditions on your ATV or UTV is as adventurous as it gets. If you want to hit the trails and take on the elements, you need to make preparations to keep safe. To make sure you’re out of harm’s way, here are 12 tips for safe winter riding from ATV Trader.
1. Charge Your Battery
Charge your vehicle’s battery and keep it out of the cold so it properly works. When your battery is exposed to extreme cold, it won’t hold a charge and your vehicle won’t run.
2. Check Your Coolant
Coolant that’s frozen can damage your vehicle. Before your session, replace it with fresh coolant and antifreeze.
3. Check Your Tire Pressure
When the temperatures drop, your tire pressure can drastically change. Check your tire pressure with a gauge and inflate your tires if necessary. Take a look at your owner’s manual for the correct tire pressure levels.
4. Have Your Winch Ready
When you need a winch to get you through tough terrain, you’ll want to make sure it’s in working order. Check to make sure the cable is ready and free of ice.
5. Consider Vehicle Modifications
You can substitute wheels for tracks for traction in heavy snow. ATV fairing and a windshield can protect you from the cold as you ride. Hand guards, gauntlets, and seat warmers can help you stay out for longer rides. Plows can be attached to your off-road vehicle to clear snow. Some even consider accessorizing their full cab UTV with heating equipment and doors to stay warm.
6. Gear Up
Protect yourself and stay warm with at least three layers of clothing. This includes wearing fleece and thermal clothing as well as a waterproof jacket and pants. You will need gloves, boots, thick socks, fog resistant dual-pane goggles or a full-face helmet.
7. Pack a Back-Up Kit
Bring tools for on-the-go ATV/UTV maintenance. Have a shovel ready. Portable traction pads may help your vehicle get through rugged conditions. Bring extra gear to stay dry and keep warm with layers. Take heating pads, blankets, and lights. Just like your vehicle’s battery, charge your cell phone battery and keep it warm.
8. Let Your Vehicle Heat Up
Let the vehicle’s engine oil heat up so your engine doesn’t stop. Let it run for several minutes before you take it out. Avoid hitting high speeds or accelerating too quickly right away.
9. Ride Together
Ride with someone else that’s experienced. Have an emergency phone contact you can call. Share your riding plans with a friend or family member and keep track of time; it can get dark quickly and nighttime makes riding difficult with low visibility.
10. Stick to the Trails
Be respectful of other riders by following speed limits and stop signs. Check blindspots, corners, and drive slowly along ditches. Off-roading can be dangerous, as snowfall can cover obstacles such as boulders, fallen trees, ditches, or holes.
11. Avoid Ice
Be careful of icy conditions and drive cautiously. While some riders may be using their ATV/UTV for ice fishing, riding on lakes or rivers that are frozen-over can be risky with the weight of you and your equipment on your vehicle.
12. Ride in a Low Gear
Lower gears can give you greater control while powering through rough wintry terrain. While you’ll be moving at a slower speed, your vehicle will have the strength to go through mud, hills, and snow.
Conclusion: Safety comes first with winter riding. By making preparations, you and your vehicle will be ready to take on the toughest of conditions for a thrilling winter ride. For a selection of new and used ATVs and UTVs for riding this season, visit ATVTrader.com.