Owning a UTV means that, at some point, you are going to need to transport it from point A to point B. That may simply be a mile up the road to your local dealership for service or it could be a multi-week cross-country trip to mark some trails off your bucket list. Whatever the reason, having a means of safely hauling your UTV can make ownership easier and it can also open up a world of new riding possibilities.
So, what’s the best means of hauling your Side-by-Side? Well that depends on a wide range of factors. The size of the UTV, your budget, and intended use are just a few to look at when considering your options. There are open utility trailers, enclosed trailers, truck racks, and even toy haulers, for those that plan regular overnight adventures.
Each of these have their own advantages and disadvantages , so it will come down to what suits your needs best. Keep reading for everything you need to know about hauling your UTV on a trailer, truck rack, or in a toy hauler and how to do so safely.
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Open air utility trailers are easily the most common method of hauling a UTV and for good reason. Utility trailers are not only easy to come by, but they are relatively inexpensive. For example, a brand new 6×12 utility trailer with a wood deck can be purchased for $1,200 to $1,500. There are a wide range of sizes with various options. There are single axle and tandem axle designs, depending on the weight being carried.
You can get a steel frame with a wood or metal mesh deck or you can go all aluminum, to reduce weight. This is another advantage of utility trailers. Their basic design means that they are also lightweight and easy to tow. Even with a side-by-side loaded up, the total weight would be within the limits of most trucks and SUVs. They can also be used for more than just hauling your UTV. Lumber, furniture, yard waste, and anything else you can think of, can be transported on a utility trailer.
There are some drawbacks to keep in mind when purchasing a utility trailer. Since they are open, your Side-by-Side will be exposed to the elements and any debris flying about on the highway. If you are traveling and staying overnight, your UTV will be sitting out in the open and could be a potential target for thieves. Even if they can’t get the machine off the trailer, accessories can disappear fairly quickly. Still, these trailers will be the best option for most people, as they will likely be using it for short trips and the lighter weight and lower upfront cost is definitely appealing.
Enclosed Cargo Trailers
Enclosed trailers are less common among UTV owners, but still something to consider when looking to transport your UTV. They are a bit more expensive than open trailers as prices can range from $2,000 to $6,000+ depending on the size and optional equipment. While they are more expensive, the benefits can be worth the cost.
Your UTV will be secure and out of the elements. There’s no need to worry about damage to the vehicle or its accessories while traveling down the highway. These are especially appealing if you are traveling overnight and have to leave the vehicle unattended. You can also store your riding gear, expensive coolers, or whatever else you want in an enclosed trailer and have the peace of mind that they are safe.
Like open utility trailers, there are many different sizes and configurations, but it’s very important to confirm that your UTV will fit in the trailer that you are looking to purchase. You not only have to consider length and width, but also height, which is not an issue with an open trailer. Make sure to measure the ramp door opening, as it will need to be tall and wide enough for the UTV. Even if the interior height of the trailer is tall enough, the ramp door will likely be at least a few inches shorter.
Height is one of the biggest disadvantages of an enclosed trailer. Many only have a 6 foot interior height, which will be far too low for many Side-by-Sides. You will have to measure the height of your UTV, including accessories, to get an accurate number and then look for a trailer that will fit. In some cases, you may have to custom order a trailer, but that can add to the overall cost.
Another drawback, albeit minor, is weight. They will obviously weigh more than an open trailer, which means gas mileage will suffer a bit more than when towing an open trailer. Weights can range from 2,000 lbs to 3,500+ lbs unloaded, so if your tow vehicle isn’t very large, you’ll want to make sure that the trailer and UTV combined do not exceed the vehicles towing capacity.
Not only that, but with a taller enclosed trailer, wind resistance can be especially harmful to fuel efficiency when towing. You can look for a V-nose trailer that will help somewhat with the overall aerodynamics of the trailer and provide a bit less wind resistance. Despite those details, enclosed trailers offer and safe and secure way to haul your UTV, whether it’s a short trip to town or an overnight stay to visit your favorite trail.
Toy haulers are geared towards a very specific group of riders. It’s not intended for quick trips to the dealer or even day trips to the trailhead. These are intended for those riders that like to travel to a variety of destinations and stay for several days at a time.
The toy hauler is basically a travel trailer with garage space for your UTV. You can visit different trail systems and stay at campgrounds right along the trail. No need to find a hotel or cabin and the rates for camping spots are usually quite a bit cheaper than a hotel room. It’s a very convenient setup and can also be used for trips that don’t involve any sort of off-road vehicle.
Let’s face it, toy haulers are pretty awesome, but there are some things to consider before purchasing. First, just like with enclosed trailers, you have to find one with enough space for your particular UTV. Height and width can be an issue for many of the larger Side-by-Sides on the market. The weight of the toy hauler is another consideration. Most of these weigh in excess of 5,000 lbs and can easily top 10,000 lbs loaded on some of the larger models. You need a fairly large vehicle to tow this kind of weight.
There’s also upkeep on toy haulers that you won’t find on a standard trailer. Lastly, toy haulers are expensive. You’ll have no trouble finding toy haulers in neighborhood of $40,000+, though some of the smaller models start around $20,000. For most people, that’s not a realistic option. These can be a fantastic option for those that travel a lot and can afford the cost, but for the majority of UTV owners, it’s not going to be the best choice.
It’s not uncommon to see pickup trucks with an ATV in the bed, but you’re less likely to see a UTV being hauled in the same manner. Only the smaller 50 inch wide models easily fit in the bed of a pickup truck. If you happen to have a 50 inch wide model with a bed long enough to accommodate a UTV, you would only need a set of ramps to load and transport the vehicle.
In that case, be sure that the ramp has a load capacity high enough for your side-by-side. You definitely do not want that to break while loading your UTV. You also don’t want the ramps to slide off the tailgate during the loading process. Hook a tie strap to the receiver hitch on your truck and to the ramps to keep it firmly in place. Once the UTV is loaded in the truck, you’ll want a good set of tie straps to hold it place. With most trucks, the tailgate will have to be left open, so it is critical that the vehicle be secured to the bed of the truck. Still, there are many people whose side-by-side is simply to large to fit in the bed of a pickup.
Fortunately, there’s a solution for those that have a larger Side-by-Side and that do not want to deal with a trailer to get their side-by-side from point A to point B. UTV truck racks attach to the bed of a truck and the UTV actually sits on top of the rack, above the truck bed rails. They even make racks for longer UTVs that stretch up and over the cab of the truck. This allows you to carry your Side-by-Side above the bed, leaving all that space open for gear and equipment. There are several companies making UTV racks, including Alpine Designs, Green Mountain Metal Works, and DiamondBack Truck Covers, to name a few. Prices range from approximately $2,400 to $3,250, so they aren’t cheap, but they certainly add a level of convenience to hauling your UTV.
It should be noted that these truck racks are designed for heavy duty trucks with an increased payload capacity. Most half-ton trucks aren’t going to have the space or payload to carry the rack plus the weight of a UTV. Though there are some half-ton trucks that might have just enough payload, a 3/4 ton truck will handle the weight better. These racks are also fairly expensive when compared to a simple utility trailer. Furthermore, with the UTV sitting so high on the truck, wind resistance will definitely impact fuel efficiency. In the end, the primary advantage and appeal of these racks is the convenience.
Safety Tips for Hauling Your UTV
Having the ability to safely transport your UTV will make things easier if you have to take it to the dealership and it can also open up a lot of possibilities for trail riding. Regardless of the need, there are several things to keep in mind to ensure that your trips, short or long, are safe and enjoyable.
The most obvious would be to make sure the UTV is adequately secured to the trailer or truck rack. Most people will use ratcheting tie straps to secure the vehicle. These are a great choice, since they’re inexpensive and easily replaced if damaged. Just make sure the that the work capacity of the strap is high enough to secure the weight of your particular Side-by-Side. Additionally, when you attach the straps to your UTV, make sure to ratchet the straps down enough to compress the suspension. This will keep it from bouncing on the trailer and potentially breaking one of the straps.
Wheel bonnets are also a good choice, though they’re a bit more expensive. They secure the vehicle by keeping the wheels firmly planted on the trailer. The suspension can move freely without putting additional stress on the straps. Again, make sure the work capacity of the bonnet is high enough for your UTV. Beyond securing the UTV to the trailer, there are several other safety items that you should check before every trip.
First, ensure that the trailer ball is the appropriate size for the trailer and make sure it latches securely. Attach the safety chains to opposite sides of the truck to create and X-shaped cradle under the trailer tongue, so that in the event that the trailer detaches from your tow vehicle, the safety chains will support it until you can get the vehicle stopped. Always check the trailer lights to verify that they all function and if your trailer has brakes, check to make sure they are functioning as well.
In addition, trailer tire pressure should be checked before every use of the trailer. Under-inflated tires can wear unevenly and prematurely, which could lead to a blow-out while traveling down the highway. If your UTV has accessories, check to make sure that things like the windshield, roof, and back panel are properly installed.
Traveling at highway speeds for long periods of time can put a lot of stress on those particular accessories. If they’re not properly installed, you could end up with them flying off the vehicle. Not only would you lose an expensive accessory, but, more importantly, it could be a hazard for other motorists. These are all quick and easy things to check before hauling your UTV and can prevent a lot of problems down the road.
There are plenty of options available to haul your UTV. Whether you simply need a utility trailer that can also be used for other tasks or you plan to do a lot of travelling and want to invest in a toy hauler, there’s something out there for everyone. Consider the options, weigh the pros and cons of each, and determine what best suits your needs.
Regardless of your choice, you may be surprised at just how convenient it is to be able to safely and easily transport your Side-by-Side. Make sure you take the proper precautions to ensure that you have an enjoyable trip and remain safe doing so. Things like checking tire pressures, trailer lights, etc. may seem tedious, but it will not only ensure your safety, but also other motorists on the road.
It’s also a good idea to verify that your vehicle insurance will cover your UTV during transport. If not, you may want to consider purchasing a separate policy, if you have not already done so. That’s probably a good idea either way, so that you know you’re covered in the event of an accident. Once you’ve taken care of those safety checks and secured your vehicle to the trailer or truck rack, you’re ready to roll!