Ready to take your UTV from the trails to the streets? There are a few things to consider before making the leap. To make a UTV street legal, you’ll obviously need to have the right tires and accessories. But have you thought about mirrors, insurance, or registration? Read on to make sure you’ve covered all your bases before hitting the road in your side-by-side. Whether you live in Kentucky, Texas, or California, you’ll have a street-legal UTV in no time.
The very first thing you need to decide is if the added investment in parts and accessories is worth the road time. In many parts of the country, like Tennessee, Florida, and Texas, there are places to ride that are easily accessed by riders from main roads. If you live in an area where these places are accessible, investing in a street-legal UTV kit might save you money on trailer and transportation costs. Also, many towns and communities are “golf cart friendly,” meaning they allow side-by-sides, UTVs, and ATVs to drive legally in their city limits. This can save time and wear and tear on your car, not to mention gas on shorter, local trips.
The UTV industry is growing fast, and there are more UTVs and UTV owners on the road today than there were a year ago. As a result, many state and local governments are passing new laws and legislature to allow more UTVs to ride on the road legally. Not all state laws are created equal, though, and you will want to do a little research into your city’s and state’s specific laws about UTVs. Some states require almost everything a standard motor vehicle requires, while others require little more than a slow-moving vehicle flag. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is a great place to get information about these laws. Their page has UTV and ATV information organized by state and includes some great safety training information.
It’s important to find out if vehicle registration and a valid driver’s license are required in your state before taking your UTV to the streets. It doesn’t matter if you drive a Ranger or a Maverick—it might need to be registered and plated like any other street-legal vehicle, or maybe that’s only required within city limits. These laws are in place to protect both riders and others from injuries. Some states (like Colorado and Delaware) require owners to register their side-by-sides just like any motor vehicle, while others (like Kansas and Louisiana) do not. DO NOT fail to check with your Department of Motor Vehicles or you could end up with heavy fines or even in jail. To start digging, locate your local DMV or check out the website for Edgar Snyder & Associates Law, where you can find out more about UTV/ATV laws in each state.
Nobody likes to think about accidents, but they do happen. When you take your UTV on the road, the chances of causing damage to your street-legal quad or side-by-side 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 last step is adding the correct aftermarket parts to your side-by-side in order to keep you safe. Again, requirements are different for each locality, but here is a list of items that we recommend. Keep reading beyond the list to learn more about how to choose and install the correct parts for your specific needs.
By making just a few changes, you can enjoy the luxury of driving your Polaris RZR to work when everyone else is snowed in, taking the kids on a joyride around the neighborhood after school, or driving your Can-Am Maverick X3 straight from the garage to your favorite local trail. We think it’s totally worth it. Here is a list of the common parts you will need to be street legal.
A required addition for any street-legal UTV is a turn signal kit. There are several kits out there, but which turn signal kit should you get? SuperATV offers both universal turn signal kits and model-specific kits that are designed especially for your Polaris, Honda, or Yamaha, among many others. Any time you are adding aftermarket UTV accessories that require wiring, make sure to obtain a wiring diagram of your vehicle and have an understanding of how new parts will affect your battery usage. Most small upgrades can be added easily, but require some knowledge of how the wiring on your side-by-side works.
Some, like SuperATV’s turn signal kits, are “plug and play.” This means you don’t have to mess around with complicated wire connectors. You just plug it in and it’s good to go! When purchasing a turn signal kit, make sure you know what is shipped with each purchase. You could end up spending more if you need to purchase additional wiring harnesses or parts. Every kit that SuperATV sells comes with a horn to complete the package and to ensure you have everything you need to be street legal.
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, since some tires do not have the appropriate tread to grip the road surface. This can make handling and breaking difficult on side-by-sides and ATVs.
There are many factors that go into DOT tire certification, but a major factor 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 made them. This will be present on all DOT-approved tires.
Finding a good DOT-approved tire designed for UTVs can be a real pain because most DOT-approved tires are road tires first and good off-road tires second (or not at all). This is because it is difficult to strike a balance between appropriate road tread and a tread that performs well on the rocks and trail. A great tire to consider is SuperATV’s AT Warrior tire. The AT Warrior features a patent-pending tread pattern that is designed to maximize grip on any terrain.
This is a smarter tread pattern that features which we call a tapered pyramid design. The tapered pyramid is different from a normal smooth lug because it is able to gather, pack, and compress whatever material you’re riding on to create a hard, solid driving surface between each lug. This will give you a massive leg up on traction.
Every lug is also siped (small slits in the rubber) so they can grab smooth surfaces effectively. Between each lug are small rubber ribs known as ejector ribs. These assist with cleanout on stickier terrain by flexing and vibrating as the tire rolls to eject whatever material had been packed in.
Some states and cities require you to have a windshield installed on your UTV in order for it to be street legal. This helps protect the driver and passengers from all sorts of dangers when driving in traffic at high speeds. Windshields are also great for keeping cold air and debris out of your cab. They’re especially nice if the truck in front of you kicks up a rock at highway speeds. Better to let the windshield take that hit than your face.
You will want to consider both the design and the material of a windshield when choosing which one is right for your UTV model. Glass windshields are the strongest and can be fit with a windshield wiper, but they’re heavy and are only available in the full windshield style. Polycarbonate windshields scratch easier but are lighter, cheaper, and can be found in full, half, and flip-out variations, to name a few. Make sure to check your local laws, as some might require full windshields while others won’t. Make sure to check into this before investing in this upgrade. You don’t want to purchase a half model only to realize it isn’t street legal in your area.
Having a clear line of sight is one of the most important things when you’re driving down the highway in your car or truck. It’s no different when you are driving your UTV or ATV. Your vision needs to extend 360 degrees around your ride, and the only way to accomplish that is by adding a set of mirrors. You will also most likely need a rear-view mirror and/or a set of side view mirrors in order to make your UTV legal for road riding. These can be purchased in many styles and materials, such as 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 based on different machines.
Plastic is a less expensive alternative to some of the more expensive aluminum models, but if you ride hard it might be worth the upgrade. Heavy trail riders tend to damage plastic aftermarket parts more frequently. SuperATV has you covered here as well. We offer a variety of rear-view mirrors, from three-panel adjustable mirrors to wide-view convex mirrors, all of which come with various clamp sizes so that they can attach to any roll bar.
This is not an exhaustive list of requirements for making your UTV street legal. Again, these requirements vary by state, city, and county, so you may need a lot more modifications or a lot fewer in order to get the job done. Only your personal research will tell you exactly what you need. When you’re gathering your list of requirements, make sure you find out whether or not you are required to have insurance on your UTV. It’s a good idea to have insurance regardless, but you definitely don’t want to be involved in a fender bender without it when the police show up. Also, make sure to observe any open container laws, and don’t drink and drive. That will not fly when you are on the road, and it’s also really dangerous (and stupid).
You should now be well on your way to making your UTV road ready. Make sure you get the best possible experience by buying the best parts and accessories during your conversion process. And remember to be safe out there!
Don’t forget to check out more of our how-to articles. If you are ready to learn about more street-legal gear, check out our article on choosing the right windshield for your side-by-side. We break down all the materials and styles available and help you determine what’s right for you.
Updated by Tyler Smith-Lichlyter on 11/5/2019.