Are you ready to take your machine from the trails to the streets? There are a few things to consider before making the leap. To make an ATV or UTV street legal, you’ll obviously need the right tires and accessories. But have you thought about things like mirrors, insurance, or registration?
SuperATV is here to make sure you cover all your bases before hitting the road in your four wheeler or side-by-side. Whether you live in Kentucky, Texas, or California, you’ll be street legal in no time.
The short answer: Yes, you (probably) can!
The long answer: It depends on where you live. Street-legal laws vary from state to state and, even within each state, you might find that different counties have their own unique requirements. Some areas might allow you to make a four wheeler street legal while others might limit you to street-legal UTVs only.
So before you hit the pavement, we strongly recommend researching the laws in your area. (We’ll provide some more guidance on this in a bit.) If you do live in an area that allows ATVs or UTVs to ride on the road, there’s probably some paperwork and legal stuff that needs taken care of beforehand.
First, it’s important to find out if you need to have vehicle registration and a valid driver’s license before taking your machine to the streets. No matter what type of off-road vehicle you drive, it might need to be plated like any other street-legal vehicle.
Once you’re properly licensed and registered, it’s time to think about insurance. Nobody likes to think about accidents, but they do happen. When you take make your ATV or UTV street legal, the chances of causing damage to that machine increase—not to mention your liability to others. Be sure to check with your insurance company and make sure your policy includes coverage for both off-road driving and legal road driving. Most major insurance companies provide this type of coverage and you can usually save money by bundling it with your homeowner’s policy.
The ATV and UTV industry is growing fast, and there are more off-road vehicles on the road today than there were a year ago. As a result, many state and local governments are passing new legislature to allow more of these vehicles to hit the pavement legally.
Not all state laws are created equally, though, so you’ll want to research your area’s specific requirements. Some states require almost everything a standard motor vehicle requires, while others require little more than a slow-moving vehicle flag.
Here are some great resources to consult when you’re ready to learn about your area’s requirements on making an ATV or UTV street legal:
Each of these resources breaks it down by state, so you can easily figure out what needs done before taking your off-road vehicle into town.
After all of that tedious paperwork has been taken care of, it’s time to add the aftermarket parts that are required to keep you safe. Again, these requirements vary for each locality, so this isn’t a comprehensive list. But let’s take a look at some of the most popular street-legal modifications.
A required addition for any street-legal ATV or UTV is a turn signal kit. There are several kits out there, so how do you know which one is right for you? SuperATV offers both universal turn signal kits and model-specific kits.
Any time you’re adding aftermarket ATV/UTV accessories that require wiring, make sure to obtain a wiring diagram of your vehicle and have a solid understanding of how the new parts will affect your battery usage. Most small upgrades can be added easily, but still require some knowledge of how your vehicle’s wiring works.
SuperATV’s turn signal kits are “plug and play,” which means you don’t have to mess around with complicated wire connectors. Just plug it in and you’re good to go!
Another thing to note when purchasing a turn signal kit is what all is included with your purchase. Nobody wants to get ready for an install and then realize you have to stop and purchase additional wiring harnesses or parts. Lucky for you, each kit that SuperATV sells comes with everything you need to be street legal—including a horn!
In most places, the Department of Transportation has laws in place that restrict the types of UTV tires that can be used on the road. These restrictions help prevent damage to road surfaces and improve rider safety. Some off-road tires don’t have the appropriate tread to grip pavement, which can make handling and braking difficult on ATVs and UTVs.
There are many factors that contribute to DOT tire certification, but a big one is the tire’s tread. You can examine a tire’s sidewall to determine if a tire is DOT approved. Look for the letters “DOT” followed by a series of 10-12 characters. This code gives the date and location they were manufactured, the tire size, and a unique code for the company that manufactured them. It will be present on all DOT-approved tires.
Finding a good DOT-approved tire designed for street-legal ATVs and UTVs can be a real pain because most are designed to be road tires first and off-road tires second (or not at all). This is because it’s difficult to strike a balance between appropriate road tread and a tread that performs well on rocks or trails.
To get the best of both worlds, a great tire to consider is SuperATV’s AT Warrior Tire. The AT Warrior has a patent-pending tread pattern that maximizes grip on any terrain type. This pattern is what we call a tapered pyramid design. It’s different from a smooth lug because it’s able to gather, pack, and compress whatever material you’re riding on to create a hard, solid driving surface between each lug. This gives you a massive leg up when it comes to traction.
Every lug is also siped (meaning it has small slits in the rubber) to grab smooth surfaces more easily. Between each lug you will find small rubber ribs known as ejector ribs. These assist with cleanout on stickier terrain by flexing and vibrating as the tire rolls, ejecting whatever material has been packed in.
Some cities or states require your ATV or UTV to have a windshield in order to be considered road legal. This helps protect the driver and passengers from all sorts of dangers while driving in traffic at high speeds. They also greatly increase your cab’s comfort level by keeping out cold air, rain, and debris.
Windshields are especially nice if the truck in front of you kicks up a rock at highway speeds. It’s better to let the windshield take that hit rather than your face.
You’ll want to consider both the design and material of a windshield when deciding which one is right for you. Glass windshields are strongest and can be fitted with a windshield wiper, but they’re heavy and only available in the full windshield style. Polycarbonate windshields scratch more easily but are lighter, cheaper, and made into multiple styles, like full, half, or flip.
At SuperATV, side-by-side windshields are kind of our thing. No matter what kind of windshield you want for your UTV, we’ve got you covered (literally). Before making a purchase, check your local laws to see what kind of windshield your area requires. Some require a full windshield while others give you a little more flexibility.
Having a clear line of sight is of utmost importance when you’re driving down the highway in your car or truck. It’s no different when you’re behind the wheel of an ATV or UTV. Your vision needs to extend 360 degrees around your ride, and the only way to accomplish that is with a set of mirrors.
You’ll most likely need a rear-view mirror and a set of side-view mirrors in order to make your machine legal for road riding. They come in many styles and materials, including plastic and billet aluminum. When you order rear-view mirrors, make sure you pay attention to the tube size for your model, as these vary from machine to machine.
Plastic is a less expensive alternative to some of the more pricey aluminum models. If you ride hard, though, it might be worth the extra cash to get something sturdier. Heavy trail riders tend to damage plastic aftermarket parts more frequently.
SuperATV offers a variety of off-road mirrors, from three-panel adjustable mirrors to wide-view convex ones. All of them come with various clamp sizes so they can attach to any roll bar.
In addition to turn signals, tires, a windshield, and mirrors, here are some other modifications you may have to add in order to make your ATV or UTV street legal:
|Electrical Upgrades||Non-Electrical Upgrades|
|Brake lights||Seat belts|
|Headlights and taillights||Rear reflector|
|Horn||License plate carrier|
By making these changes, you can enjoy the luxury of driving your side-by-side to work while everyone else is snowed in or driving your four wheeler straight from the garage to your favorite trail.
Depending on where you live, making your ATV or UTV road legal can be quite the investment. So how do you know if it’s worth it?
The main thing to consider is how often you’ll be able to ride on the streets. In many parts of the country, it’s not hard to find off-road trails that are easily accessible from main roads. If you live somewhere like this, making your machine street legal could save you money on trailer and transportation costs.
Many towns and communities are also deemed “golf cart friendly,” meaning you can drive off-road vehicles legally within city limits. Residents in these areas would benefit greatly from a street-legal ATV or UTV. Being able to take your side-by-side to the grocery store can save wear and tear on your daily driver, not to mention gas and maintenance.
We want to emphasize again that the recommendations in this article may not apply for everyone. Requirements vary by state, county, and city, so you might need to do more or less to make your ATV or UTV street legal. Only your personal research will tell you exactly what you need!
Once you know what’s required of you, you’re well on your way to making your favorite machine road ready. Make sure to give yourself the best possible experience by buying the best parts and accessories during your conversion process. And remember to be safe out there!
Updated by Megan Huber on 11/4/2020.