What Are High Hours For A Side by Side?

Side by side racing
How Many Hours Are A Lot On A UTV?

What are high hours on a side-by-side UTV?

I typically use the 100/1000 hour/miles/year rule to determine the life left in a UTV.

For example, you are looking to buy a used UTV and you were wondering what is considered too large a number of hours on a Polaris RZR? Let’s say the RZR is 3 years old. Look to see hours around 300 and mileage around 3000 miles. This would tell me that the UTV was driven a fair amount but not to an excess. Now this of course doesn’t tell you how hard it was driven or how well it has been maintained.

How Many Hours Does a UTV Last? My First Hand Experience

Having spent countless hours riding and maintaining UTVs, and according to experts such as Polaris, the lifespan of a UTV is really a matter of many factors like service intervals, driving style, and regular maintenance. On average, with proper maintenance and care, a UTV can last for thousands of hours with many reaching the 5,000-hour mark. I’ve seen UTVs like Polaris RZR’s endure high mileage and still perform exceptionally. However, purchasing a used UTV requires a keen eye on the number of hours or miles already on it, as high hours and high mileage for a UTV can indicate wear and tear. Regularly checking components like the axles, and adhering to the maintenance schedule provided by UTV manufacturers, can significantly extend its lifespan.

What Determines the Lifespan of UTVs?

The lifespan of UTVs is not just about the hours ridden but also about how you ride and store your UTV. Every ride off-road can cause significant damage, and mudding can lead to rust if not properly cleaned with soap and water after every ride. I’ve learned that the way you handle your UTV, the adherence to service intervals and driving style, can make your UTV last longer. It’s not just about the mileage; it’s about the quality of the vehicle and how it’s been maintained. Even a UTV with low mileage can have a shorter lifespan if not properly maintained. I always consider the age of the vehicle and the quality of the aftermarket parts, if any, before thinking of buying a used UTV. This approach has helped me in choosing a UTV that could last longer, giving me more value for my investment.

Is 1500 hours a lot for a UTV?

Generally, 1500 hours on a side by side can be considered ok for a side by side if it has been well maintained and driven correctly. I use the 100/1000 hour/miles/year rule which is 100 hours and 1000 miles of use per year is a good rule of thumb for most side by sides.

If the UTV has been well maintained, it should still be a good buy, even if it has a lot of hours on it. For example, if you bought a 3 year old used side by side with 4,000 miles on it, and it was well maintained and taken care of, it will last a good long while. The real question you need to ask yourself is: How often and where are you going to ride?

If the UTV was driven every weekend, I would say 100 hours per year is normal. If it was only ridden once in a while like for running around town, then 50 hours is probably to be expected.

The average price of a new UTV ranges from $8-20K depending on what model you get and what kind of options are available for that model year (limited edition colors/features). If you’re looking at buying a used side by side then here’s what I’d recommend:

10 key factors to consider when buying high mileage UTVs?

  1. The UTV engine is usually the most expensive part of the SXS to replace so look for overheating – If your motor overheats, it could cause permanent damage to your engine. Check for burnt engine oil and crusty spark plugs when inspecting a used UTV. This can include bent valves, cracked pistons, and other costly repairs. How Long Do ATV Engines Last? They can have a long life span with proper maintenance.
  2. Check the exhaust. Look for blue smoke coming from the exhaust of the SXS This can be a sign of an engine problem that can be costly to fix.
  3. Check the shocks and ride it to hear how it sounds. Check the shocks for leaking fluid and check them for clunking when bouncing.
  4. Check The Maintenance History. If you are fortunate enough that the previous owner kept good records you can see if the previous owner kept up with maintenance even when they did not use the ATV. It’s good to note that you should keep good records yourself as it adds to the resale value of your UTV.
  5. Look for leaking fluids. As mentioned earlier check the shocks for leaks but also check for engine leaks. This can be a tell-tale sign of further issues and an abused SXS.
  6. Check the wiring and cables. A lot of owners add aftermarket accessories to their SXS. If they don’t know what they are doing they could have wired things incorrectly. Even worse they could have a potential fire hazard. Look for poor splices that are held together with electrical tape.
  7. Have the oil changed in your new UTV as soon as possible after purchase. No matter what the previous owner said, go ahead and change it yourself. Take a look at the old oil and look to see if it’s abnormally dark or any foreign materials in the oil.
  8. Worn-out clutch – A worn-out clutch is an example of premature wear caused by overuse. Worn clutches make shifting difficult and can also cause premature wear on other parts including gears and bearings. Shifting problems can cause long-term damage to your vehicle including additional wear on other parts due to poor shifting ability which leads to more expensive repairs down the road.
  9. Look for any cracks in the CV boots and make sure the axles aren’t bent or busted. If you notice any unexpected issues here, that machine has probably been ridden a little harder than the seller is letting on.
SXS Roll Over

How long do side by sides last?

SXSs have become more reliable in the last 10 years, along with better designs and improved assembly techniques. It’s not uncommon to see some of them go 500 or even 1000 miles before needing service, or even longer if the owner drives them easy.

But if you’re talking about how many hours per year, or how many miles per year go with the guide we listed above. A lot of hours is over 500 hours per year. How many miles are a lot for a side by side? 5000 miles per year are a lot.

Most people will only use their UTV as much as they need it, so 100-500 hours per year is a good number for most people who only use their SXS for pleasure. Now if you are doing some hard hours like mudding.

The amount of hours may be lower but the many factors of wear and tear come into play because the UTV is often abused or neglected. UTVs used for word may have high miles but it may just be hauling bags of feed out to the livestock and light trail riding.

These hours of use and miles can be considered pretty easy and limit the wear on the engine.

UTVs are different from cars in that they don’t rack up highway miles on long trips, but instead spend most of their time at part-throttle, off-road.

This means that the engine won’t have time to cool down and oil temps will build up quickly. For this reason, you should try not to run your SXS for more than an hour at a time unless you are doing some serious trail riding or racing.

Going riding? Check out our guide to UTV essentials.

Which UTV should you buy? See our full list of UTV manufacturers


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24 responses to “What Are High Hours For A Side by Side?”

  1. MES Avatar
    MES

    From reading I see maintenance is key. Looking at a 2017, Artic Cat HDX, 4 passenger. 6 years old and only 300 hours. So 50 hrs/year and 266 miles/year average. It was maintained well that’s low usage right?

    1. Roger Lanken Avatar
      Roger Lanken

      Yes that is low milage. Sounds like a good buy if the price is right for you.

  2. RockyRoadRob Avatar
    RockyRoadRob

    Just got a used Teryx. This guide is gold. Gonna make sure I keep it in top shape.

    1. Roger Lanken Avatar
      Roger Lanken

      That’s the spirit, Rob! Treat it right and it’ll serve you well for years to come.

      1. MES Avatar
        MES

        From reading I see maintenance is key. Looking at a 2017, Artic Cat HDX, 4 passenger. 6 years old and only 300 hours. So 50 hrs/year and 266 miles/year average. It was maintained well that’s low usage right?

        1. Roger Lanken Avatar
          Roger Lanken

          Yes that is low milage. Sounds like a good buy if the price is right for you.

  3. DesertDrifterDave Avatar
    DesertDrifterDave

    Always wondered if 1500 hours was a lot. Good to have some clarity. Thanks for the info!

    1. Roger Lanken Avatar
      Roger Lanken

      Glad you found it helpful, Dave. Here’s to many more hours on your UTV!

  4. AllTerrainTony Avatar
    AllTerrainTony

    My rule of thumb: If it’s been well-maintained, hours don’t matter as much. It’s all about the care.

    1. Roger Lanken Avatar
      Roger Lanken

      Well said, Tony. A well-maintained UTV can outlast even the highest hour counts.

  5. TurboTim Avatar
    TurboTim

    The aftermarket parts point is spot on. Quality matters. Don’t skimp out on cheap parts.

    1. Roger Lanken Avatar
      Roger Lanken

      Couldn’t agree more, Tim. Investing in quality parts can make a world of difference.

  6. GearheadGary Avatar
    GearheadGary

    Always check the axles and CV boots, guys. Saved me a ton of money catching issues early on.

    1. Roger Lanken Avatar
      Roger Lanken

      Great tip, Gary! Early detection can prevent costly repairs down the line.

  7. RuggedRon Avatar
    RuggedRon

    I’ve got a 5-year-old UTV with about 1000 hours on it. Still runs like a dream. Maintenance is key folks!

    1. Roger Lanken Avatar
      Roger Lanken

      That’s impressive, Ron! Goes to show that with proper care, these machines can last a long time.

  8. DirtDudeDan Avatar
    DirtDudeDan

    Mudding can be tough on these machines. Always make sure to clean mine thoroughly after. Rust is a killer!

    1. Roger Lanken Avatar
      Roger Lanken

      Wise words, Dan. Cleaning after mudding is essential to prolong the life of a UTV.

  9. TrailBlazerTom Avatar
    TrailBlazerTom

    I’ve seen some UTVs with crazy high mileage and they still run smooth. Guess it’s all about how you treat ’em.

    1. Roger Lanken Avatar
      Roger Lanken

      You hit the nail on the head, Tom. It’s not just about the hours or miles, but how it’s been maintained.

  10. MudMonsterMike Avatar
    MudMonsterMike

    Always wondered about the lifespan of UTVs. Good to know they can last thousands of hours with proper care. Gotta keep mine in check!

    1. Roger Lanken Avatar
      Roger Lanken

      Absolutely, Mike! Regular maintenance is key. Keep it up and your UTV will serve you well.

  11. OffRoadRicky Avatar
    OffRoadRicky

    Man, that 100/1000 hour/miles/year rule is a game changer. Never thought about it that way. Makes sense tho.

    1. Roger Lanken Avatar
      Roger Lanken

      Totally agree, Ricky! It’s a simple yet effective way to gauge the life of a UTV.

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Roger Lanken

Greetings! I am Roger Lanken, with over two decades dedicated to the UTV industry, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience. My journey began as a passionate off-roader, and over the years, I've evolved into a leading expert, consultant, and trusted voice in the UTV community. You can reach me at rogerlanken@gmail.com if you want to get in touch. This platform serves as a global hub for SXS fans, where enthusiasts from every corner of the world converge to exchange insights, experiences, and the sheer thrill of UTVing. My mission is to foster a community where the love for these powerful machines is celebrated, and knowledge is shared freely. Having tested, reviewed, and ridden countless UTV models, I've gained an unparalleled understanding of their mechanics, capabilities, and potential. From guiding beginners on their first ride to advising professionals on advanced techniques and equipment choices, my expertise covers the full spectrum.

24 thoughts on “What Are High Hours For A Side by Side?

  1. From reading I see maintenance is key. Looking at a 2017, Artic Cat HDX, 4 passenger. 6 years old and only 300 hours. So 50 hrs/year and 266 miles/year average. It was maintained well that’s low usage right?

      1. From reading I see maintenance is key. Looking at a 2017, Artic Cat HDX, 4 passenger. 6 years old and only 300 hours. So 50 hrs/year and 266 miles/year average. It was maintained well that’s low usage right?

  2. My rule of thumb: If it’s been well-maintained, hours don’t matter as much. It’s all about the care.

  3. Mudding can be tough on these machines. Always make sure to clean mine thoroughly after. Rust is a killer!

  4. I’ve seen some UTVs with crazy high mileage and they still run smooth. Guess it’s all about how you treat ’em.

    1. You hit the nail on the head, Tom. It’s not just about the hours or miles, but how it’s been maintained.

  5. Always wondered about the lifespan of UTVs. Good to know they can last thousands of hours with proper care. Gotta keep mine in check!

  6. Man, that 100/1000 hour/miles/year rule is a game changer. Never thought about it that way. Makes sense tho.

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