Small Vehicle Resource Home
Home : Research : Buying Guides : Winterizing Your UTV For Work Or Play
Winterizing Your UTV For Work Or Play
Published: Author: Category: Buying Guides

With the winter months approaching some UTV owners may have thoughts of winterizing their vehicle for either winter work, such as plowing or traversing farm or ranch land, or for recreational use such as trail riding or traveling to and around winter camps. To discuss some of the options and accessories you might consider, as well as winter maintenance and other tips, I spoke with Rolly who works in the Mies Outland service department.  Mies Outland is a Polaris dealer located in Watkins, MN, so the personnel there have some experience with cold and snowy winters.

What are some of the most important or popular options and accessories someone can use to up fit their utility vehicle for winter use?

Most likely they would probably want a windshield on it, as far as to block some of the cold wind. We have a lot of people who put on cabs with heaters in them. So they are in an enclosed cab with a heater.

Would that have a defroster as well or is that a separate accessory?

They have vents that are up on the dash so they would be defrosting the windshield.

What are the cab options? Do your customers consider a canvas cab for the winter or will they just purchase a hard cab?

Most customers who use it for the winter will get a hard cab, just because it seals tighter than a soft cab would.

Do the hard cabs usually come with a windshield wiper and washer system?

It is an option. There are windshields that have the option built-in so you can install a windshield wiper. But it would be a specific type of windshield with that option. Not all the windshields are setup to take a wiper.

Do most of the people that you have buying the hard cabs, have a wiper?

No, not as many as you would think you would. For me, if I had a windshield on my Ranger I would want a wiper. I wouldn’t say it is half and half but we do sell quite a few.

Do they switch tires and get snow tires?

Normally they do not switch tires. Again it really is, for the most part no. There are exceptions but for the most part they leave the stock tires on them.

So stock tires are good enough?

Good enough for most things.

What would be the special case where you would switch to snow tires?

Well a lot of guys, we have a lot of people who are starting to use them [the UTVs] on roads, so they are installing blinkers and horns and stuff that makes them able to drive them on roads. So the grippy off-road tires that come with the vehicle are not good for the road. They wear pretty quickly. So they get basically a car-like tire that will last better on the roads.

Do you have customers that use track systems?

We put on a lot of tracks. A lot of guys use them year around but a higher percentage use them for winter, that put them on.

What are they using the tracks for?

They like to go on the trail or wherever they go they like to have the tracks. It’s a mixture, hunters, guys that use them for trail riding, farmers that go out and use them to check livestock.

So you have people who are not just winterizing UTVs to plow or do winter work but to recreate or do other tasks off-road?

Yes, and then we do put a lot plows on. There is just as much recreation use or other uses than “work” work that requires a plow or snow blower.

So they are getting a cab to be comfortable?

Yes it’s a comfort thing.

And how about winches? Is it more imperative that they have winches for winter work or recreation in case they get stuck or do a lot of customers already have winches on them?

A lot them put winches on them.  We install a lot of winches for their normal everyday use, not just because winter is coming so we need to put a winch on. They use it for a lot of other things other than if they get stuck and need to get themselves out. If they do install a plow they will use it [the winch] to lift and lower the plows. Pull things as well.

In terms of the plows and other attachments. What are some of the options for plows and why are people choosing one versus the other?

We mainly put on steel bladed plows. There is an option of plastic bladed plows. Still the steel frames but the base itself is plastic.  We see them but they are more rare for our customer base. We usually put on the steel bladed plows. We have some that the blades are rotated manually. Where you have to get out and pull a pin and manually change the angle or there are ones that have an electric cylinder that will change the angle of the plow blade from the cab. Now most of the manufacturers are making them so they are quick connect or disconnect. Either way it is pretty easy for them to come off. We basically have only a couple types of plow we sell.

Are the steel blades more durable?

Yes. They are heavier but that doesn’t seem to be a concern to the consumer that is buying them.  They just want the plow because they think it is more durable.

Is the steel more expensive?

I think they are pretty comparable.

Are there any less common options or accessories that you sell?

We don’t put a lot of them on but there is the option for putting in heated seats. People like the heated seat. Not as common. This dealership here does put on a lot of cabs and hard cabs, so for the amount of cabs we put on we don’t have a lot of heated seats. Which I would think in the winter would be a pretty common accessory.

How about lighting. For people doing winter work or recreation will they put on lighting?

I would say its not just specific for winter. It’s just in general. Guys are adding LED light bars on top for more frontal lighting but guys put them on the back for backing up but more so frontal.

So if you had your UTV and were planning on doing some plowing with it, you might add some rear lighting for backing up?

Yes that would be something, especially if you were doing a lot of your plowing in the evening, for sure you would want them for backing up that would light up the whole area because they don’t have any backup lights standard.

Do they purchase any safety lights? I assume most of your customers are consumers rather than commercial. Do they ever put those safety lights, the strobe lights or something similar?

Right [consumer], Very rare. We don’t see that.

Do any of your commercial customers go for a broom attachment instead of a plow?

We don’t see many brooms. Those are rare for us. We don’t have a lot of commercial customers. It’s more consumers.

Because a broom is more for sidewalks and the like?

Yes more for the city, a campus or campgrounds or something like that.

What maintenance steps should a vehicle owner take when getting their vehicle for winter?

I would be checking the coolant to be able to handle down to 40 below. Make sure that is good to avoid any engine damage. Keeping it greased. And as far as maintaining your oil change intervals. I don’t think you have to worry because mostly it is synthetic oils that go into the motors now. We’re not so concerned about telling a guy to use a little lighter oil in the winter rather than the summer because that synthetic is all around. Not so much that as it used to be. One thing that we seem to see is air intakes with the snow dust. Keeping that clean so you don’t have trouble with the air intake to the motor being frozen because of snow dust.

Are there any safety precautions an operator should take in particular when using the vehicles in winter conditions?

As far as batteries, I suppose you might want to keep your battery charged up so you might have a battery tender on your battery so you can keep it charged up for the cold staring because it takes more to start it up in the cold. In the winter if you break down, we don’t usually see a package that might have a blanket or something. We don’t usually see that but it is not a bad idea.

For the different type of Rangers that you sell, such as the two-seater, mid-size, full-size, and crew, is there a particular one that you recommend if you were plowing or for other winter uses. Do the smaller ones still have enough power?

The mid-Size and the full-size Rangers they do have the same size motors, it’s just that you can get them in the full-size or the mid-size. So it’s not so much about the power but how you are going to use it. If you are out in the open country, the full-size where it is wider and has a little bit more room in it. The mid-size if you are doing a lot of trails through the woods and stuff it is a narrower machine.  I’d probably steer someone to that. But power wise you can get a 570 or a 900 in both mid and full-size vehicles.

So whether it is plowing or going through a lot of snow they have the power necessary?

Yes

Is there anything we did not cover, in terms of winterizing?

For accessories we do install a lot of radios. The accessories that they usually have are a full hard cab, a radio, a heater and a few people will ask for the heated seats. They usually keep the stock tires and rims. And the plow and winch. And those are the main accessories people would use for the winter or summer.

Thanks for your time today Rolly, I appreciate it.

Your welcome.

Based on the discussion with Rolly from Mies Outland, I priced out some of the options and accessories we discussed for a variety of utility vehicles.  Except where noted these are all OEM accessories or sold through them as opposed to aftermarket or third-party provided accessories. The hard cabs will cost you roughly $3,000 to $5,000. Depending on the manufacturer and the vehicle model, there may be a deluxe cab available. The deluxe cabs can include items such as doors with power windows, more expensive windshield options, premium roofs, a rear panel with sliding windows, windshield wiper etc.

The next most expensive item will be a plow system. This includes the plow as well as other parts for mounting it to your vehicle. Typically an owner will have several choices of plow blades as well as an option for a powered system for controlling the movement of the blade. The costs can range thousands of dollars depending on the choices you make for your plow system. In addition, for some vehicles a front mounted winch is not compatible with a plow system.

There are also a variety of winches that can be purchased but for $600 to $700 you should be able to find a $4,500 to $4,000 winch for a particular vehicle. Audio systems and heated seats are more hit and miss in terms of having a manufacturer provided option. Polaris has one, if not the most expansive selection of accessories. In terms of lighting, Polaris also has a wide selection, although most are shown as being front-mounted. However, you should check with your local dealer to see what lights could be rear mounted. Kubota and John Deere offer lights that are specifically for rear mounting or can be front or rear mounted.

If the manufacturer doesn’t offer a particular accessory, check with your local dealer for some aftermarket offerings. In addition to OEM provided accessories, you can also find a variety of similar aftermarket accessories depending on the vehicle make and model.


Pricing for Common Winter Options & Accessories 

 

Ranger 570

Ranger 570 Full-Size

Ranger XP 900

Kubota RTV-X900

Kubota RTV-X1120D

Kawasaki Mule Pro-FX EPS

John Deere XUV825I

Deluxe Hard Cab

$3900

$3,900

$5,000

$4,108

$4,108

-

-

Hard Cab

$3,200

$3,200

$3,100

$3,491

-

$5,115

$4,000 By Kolpin

Heater/Defrost

$800

$800

$800

$597

$597

$700

$1,130

Winch 4000 or 4500 Lb.

$700

$700

$700

$600

$600

650

$630

Heated seat kit

-

-

$230

-

-

-

-

Bluetooth Audio

$250

$250

$250

-

-

-

-

Audio System

-

-

$600

-

-

$500

$660

72” Plow Blade

$400-450

$400-450

$400-450

$1,819

$1,819

$390

-

Higher End Push Frame

$1,050

$1,050

$1050

-

-

-

-

Push Frame

$350

$350

$350

-

-

$380

-

Mount Plate

$250

$200

$200

-

-

$370

-

Hydraulic or Powered System

$600

-

$550

$3,648 Blade & Parts

$3,648

Blade & Parts

-

$3,300

Blade & Parts

Rear Work Lights

-

-

-

-

$267

-

$125