Whether people are riding for fun, racing, working, hunting, or something else, we’re seeing more side-by-sides in the wild than we ever have before.
It doesn’t matter what you use it for, just that you get it serviced regularly so you don’t end up stranded on the side of the trail, worksite, or even worse.
More often than not, when people have their UTVs serviced they:
But what most UTV owners overlook or forget to maintain is their brake system which usually ends with significant consequences.
And if you’re not sure when to change your UTV brakes, no worries—we will be covering all the signs that warn you that your brakes need to be changed.
But let’s go back to the basics—how do your brakes work?
Have you ever ridden on a trail where you’ve calculated your speed so precisely that you’ve never had to tap on your brakes—not even once? It’s nearly impossible. Unless you’re coasting to a stop or you’re a daredevil and leaping from your UTV while it’s still moving forward, then you’ll have to tap your brakes at some point.
Your brake system is a simple concept: When the rider squeezes the hand lever or puts their foot on the pedal, brake fluid is pushed through the brake lines activating the caliper’s piston. In return, the brake pad pushes against the brake disk or drum, causing friction and stopping your machine.
The clearest sign you’ll get without having to guess if it’s your brakes: the brake light indicator appears on your dashboard. This light can mean one of two things: either time for regular maintenance or an alert that you have bigger problems with the braking system.
Not all machines use this indicator, some are different. The best way to figure this out would be to refer to your machine’s owner’s manual.
You don’t need to sound the alarm at every noise you hear. If you hear your brakes squealing or squeaking, there could be a foreign object lodged in the brakes (pebbles or mulch). But more than likely, it’s your brake pad’s wear indicators. When the tiny pieces of metal in your brake pads come in contact with the rotor, they emit a high-pitched noise every time you hit the brakes.
We like to call this problem “brake fade.” It results from applying your brakes over a long distance without bringing the UTV to a complete stop. We get it—sometimes it’s necessary to do this, like driving down a steep hill or a winding road. Nonetheless, it will take a big toll on brakes.
When you don’t come to a full stop, you’re forcing the brake pads to make contact with the rotors for a long period of time, heating both components. Therefore the ability to get the friction needed to stop is reduced over time, making it harder to come to a complete stop as quickly as you once could.
It’s very common that your UTV’s brake pads won’t wear the same on both sides. Sometimes one side will get thinner faster, pulling your machine to one side more when you hit the brakes. This could be costly if you don’t get it fixed, jeopardizing your steering rack, ball joints, steering knuckles, and wheel bearings.
Remember, two new brake pads should always be installed at the same time.
When you push on the brake pedal, does it shake? If yes—then more than likely, it’s your brake pads. Brake pads are held together with a binding resin. When the brake pad wears down, the adhesive gets hot and smears across the rotor. If your brake pad gets too hot and overheats, this resin may not be distributed evenly. This issue is called “glazing.”
To avoid this issue ourselves we’ve cleverly designed our portals to use slotted rotors to keep them from overheating.
As we covered above, there are a lot of things that happen when you press your brakes. One of those important processes involves brake fluid. Brake fluid creates hydraulic pressure against the brake caliper. If you don’t have brake fluid, that process doesn’t happen, making it hard to stop.
Have you ever smelt a chemical odor when you’re braking? If there’s smoke coming from a wheel, it may be that the brake caliper is malfunctioning and locked into place. You should probably get back to the trailer ASAP.
We know overlooking your brake system might seem pretty harmless the first time you’re servicing your rig. But it’s not safe. If you see any of the signs we’ve listed above, you will likely need to have your brakes serviced. Don’t take the chance. Stay on top of your brake maintenance.
Load your rig with the best brake parts on the market including our brake pads, brake lines, disc kits, and more.