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8 UTV/Side-by-Side Storage Tips

As the seasons change and temperatures drop, many UTV and side-by-side enthusiasts prepare to store their beloved machines for the winter. In this article, we will explore essential storage tips to help you protect your favorite four-wheeler during the off-season.

Here are eight tips on how to store a UTV for winter:

  1. Clean, dry, and polish
  2. Remove the battery
  3. Keep the fuel tank filled
  4. Change oil and fluids based on use
  5. Inflate your tires to spec
  6. Protect the intake system
  7. Use an all-weather cover
  8. Choose a good location for storage

Whether or not you plan to ride your UTV/side-by-side for as long as possible before its yearly hibernation, heeding all the above tips is crucial. That said, read on and discover how properly storing your machine can help you get the most out of the riding season to come.

8 Tips for Proper UTV/Side-by-Side Storage

Green UTV Side-By-Side Parked on Grass

1. Clean, Dry, and Polish

To preserve your four-wheeler’s integrity and components, avoid storing it dirty. Dirt harbors moisture, leading to corrosion and mold, damaging metal and paint. It also contains road salt, which is detrimental to vehicle parts. Additionally, small particles mixed with dirt can infiltrate the inner workings of your UTV or side-by-side and create blockage.

For most UTV/side-by-side owners, it makes sense to begin cleaning the dirtiest parts of the vehicle and then work their way from there. This usually includes the chain, tires, brakes, body, and all the machine’s nooks and crannies. Many folks find that UTV cleaners work best in removing dirt, mud, grime, and other debris from exterior surfaces — including the body, wheels, and undercarriage.

Beyond UTV cleaners, you also need the following for specific machine parts and components:

  • Disc cleaner for the brakes
  • Vaseline for glaze fasteners and other small bits
  • Corrosion protectant for metal parts
  • WD-40, LPS3, or any similar product for exhaust pipes (view on Amazon)
  • Leather conditioner or protectant for the saddle
  • Degreaser for the chain
  • Mild soap solution and a detailing brush (for shaft/belt-driven UTVs)
  • Wax for wheels, rims, and body panels

Once it is spic and span, take the machine out for a final spin to get the chain prepped for lubing or waxing. Otherwise, proceed with the subsequent tips before covering the machine with an all-weather or other suitable cover to protect it against vermin, temperature fluctuations, and the elements.

2. Remove the Battery

Unlike in any other season, removing the battery from the UTV or SxS is necessary when storing your vehicle during winter. Climatic conditions aside, some features are known to cause a parasitic drain on the battery — making them enough of a reason for battery removal before extended off-season storage.

Depending on the battery type, you may or may not require a Tecmate Optimate 2 Battery Maintainer (view on Amazon), such as maintenance-free batteries. Conversely, thoroughly cleaning and using a protective solution on connectors and terminals is necessary for all battery formats. Note that outdoor storage for UTVs/side-by-sides with lead-acid batteries is ill-advised as their casing may crack, causing acid to spill on and damage sensitive components.

3. Keep the Fuel Tank Filled

A full tank is best as it helps minimize the space available for moisture to accumulate — reducing the risk of condensation inside the tank during storage. Additionally, it prevents the fuel system from being exposed to air and fuel quality from being compromised. A full tank helps preserve the fuel system and ensures optimal vehicle performance during the riding season.

Yes, emptying the tank and carburetor float bowl or running the engine until fuel is depleted is crucial for maintaining your four-wheeler’s fuel system. But so is filling the tank with petrol or diesel and fuel stabilizers. Customarily, you add the stabilizers after filling the tank with fuel. However, according to automotive publications, you can reverse this process if topping off your machine with fuel at a pump station and not at home.

TIP: When using fuel stabilizers, run the engine for 5-10 minutes so the latter works through the fuel system before storage.

4. Change Oil and Fluids Based on Use

In my post on how to winterize your UTV/side-by-side, I discussed how ride frequency prolongs the effectiveness of fluids inside your machine. Given this premise, consider how often you use your four-wheeler or whether it was sitting too long in the garage when determining whether to replace your fluids before winter storage.

When left unused within a vehicle, oils and fluids can degrade from heat, become contaminated, or oxidize more rapidly than if they were in their original containers, unopened. This degradation can form carbon deposits and other junk in your engine, potentially causing damage to metal components and leaving your UTV or SxS inoperable when spring arrives.

Hence, it would be unwise to store your machine with deteriorated fluids inside. Instead, I recommend bleeding the reservoirs before refilling them with fresh fluids. Furthermore, use the correct coolant (and in the right ratio) to prevent radiator swelling or failure during storage.

As an extra precaution, consider removing the spark plugs and spraying the inside of the cylinder walls with oil. During this process, lightly engage the ignition to facilitate the spreading of oil on the cylinder walls. Also, take care not to overfill the oil system.

5. Inflate Your Tires to Spec.

Pressurizing your tires to OEM specifications will keep them from becoming damaged if they flatten completely. For extra cushion on your tires and wheels, consider putting down a rubber mat and parking your ORV on top of it. Like motorcycles, overinflating a bit and keeping your knobbies attached to the UTV/side-by-side will prevent them from developing flat spots.

Removing the tires from a UTV before storage is generally unnecessary unless there are specific reasons to do so. But if you anticipate storing the side-by-side for an extended period or performing maintenance requiring tire removal, then removing the knobbies may be beneficial.

Otherwise, keeping the tires on the vehicle is typically sufficient for regular off-season storage. If you want to be extra, you may store your machine on Sunex Jack Stands (view on Amazon) to relieve pressure from the tires, help prolong tire lifespan, and maintain tire shape.

6. Protect the Intake System

For winter storage, protecting the air filter and airbox of your UTV or side-by-side is crucial. That said, consider sealing the airbox with a breathable cover or material to prevent moisture and critters from entering while in storage. This, alongside inlet port plugs, helps safeguard the engine’s intake system — ensuring optimal performance when you retrieve your vehicle in spring.

7. Use an All-Weather Cover

An appropriate UTV cover (view on Amazon) or an all-weather variant will shield your four-wheeler from the elements, abrasive dirt, debris, and temperature fluctuations. This is especially helpful if your storage space is not climate-controlled or inside your garage.

But even if you rent purpose-built storage units with a heating system and an electric humidifier, using a good-quality vehicle cover is still ideal. If forced to store the machine outside the garage, ensure you have a lock and waterproof straps for a suitable cover.

8. Choose a Good Location for Storage

Finally, choose a dry, sheltered location away from direct sunlight and the elements (preferably indoors if possible) to store your machine during the off-season. Doing so helps protect your four-wheeler’s body paint from premature fading (among other benefits).

A climate-controlled storage unit would be fantastic. However, I understand this is not something every rider would have in their homes — hence, the importance of #7. Oh, and do not forget to remove any fixtures that may get damaged during storage. You can always put them back later once you are ready to ride again.

Conclusion — UTV/Side-by-Side Storage Tips

Proper storage of your UTV or side-by-side is essential for preserving its condition and ensuring it is ready to hit the trails when the riding season returns. By following the storage tips outlined in this article, you can protect your investment and extend the lifespan of your adventure buddy.

Curious about needing to winterize your vehicle? Head over to my other post on How to Winterize Your UTV/Side-by-Side. Happy riding!