8 Budget-Friendly Ways to Boost ATV, UTV, and Side by Side (SXS) Performance - PRECISION ATV FAB

8 Budget-Friendly Ways to Boost ATV, UTV, and Side by Side (SXS) Performance

Enhancing the performance of ATVs, UTVs, and Side by Sides (SXS) often seems like an expensive endeavor. Here are 8 cost-effective strategies to elevate your vehicle’s performance without breaking the bank.

1. Tire Selection and Pressure: The Foundation of Performance

Choosing the right tires for your terrain is essential! Knobby tires for muddy trails and smoother treads for hard-packed surfaces. Opting for aftermarket tires tailored to your specific terrain can significantly enhance performance. These tires are made with durable materials and specialized tread patterns designed for better traction and handling, making them a budget-friendly upgrade for improved riding experiences. 

Normal tire pressure recommendations for ATVs are between 4 and 8 psi, but for a UTV or side by side, the normal tire pressure recommendations are between 12 and 18 PSI.

  • Rock-climbing, a good starting point could be as low as 3.5-4.0 psi.
  • For muddy conditions, you’ll want around 6-8 psi. 
  • Riding on sand- 8-10 psi, but you may need to go lower.  
  • If you’re on hard-packed dirt, to provide a smoother ride try 10-12 psi. 
  • On asphalt you should inflate your tires to the maximum recommended pressure, which is usually around 14-18 psi. 

I recommend that you check your tire pressure frequently. Adjusting the pressure of your tires can work wonders for traction and handling, without costing a dime!  Look at the sidewall of your tire for the recommended pressure range.

2. Suspension Wizardry: Handling Like a Pro

Adjusting suspension settings allows riders to tailor their vehicles to specific terrains or riding styles. Tweaking parameters like preload, compression, and rebound can significantly improve handling, comfort, and stability without requiring costly part replacements. Whether it's adjusting for a smoother ride, improved cornering, or better handling over obstacles, these tweaks can significantly enhance the riding experience.

  • Enhanced Performance on Various Terrains:  By adjusting suspension settings, riders can optimize their vehicles for different terrains. Softer settings for rough trails or stiffer settings for smoother tracks can improve traction, control, and overall performance.

  • DIY Adjustments:  Many suspension adjustments can be made without specialized tools or professional assistance. Basic adjustments like changing preload settings or adjusting compression and rebound can often be done by enthusiasts themselves.

  • Minimizing Wear and Tear:  Properly adjusted suspension reduces stress on other components of the ATV, UTV, or Side by Side. This can extend the lifespan of other parts, reducing maintenance and replacement costs.

         To learn more about adjusting shocks, check out this video.

    3.  Regular Maintenance: The Lifeline for Your Ride

    Now to something more crucial—maintenance. Regular maintenance not only prolongs the lifespan of your ATV but also enhances its safety and keeps your machine running at peak performance.


    Oil changes, air filter clean-ups, inspecting the drive belt and checking nuts and bolts might not sound thrilling, but they’re critical to prevent costly repairs. Plus, doing it yourself can really save you  some bucks. 
    Pro Tip:

    After each ride, clean your vehicle, removing dirt, mud, and debris to prevent wear and tear.

    I like this trick for keeping mud off your vehicle


    4. Air Filters: Budget-Friendly Boosters

    Changing and, if possible, upgrading your vehicle's air filter is a cost-effective way to improve performance. High-quality air filters can offer better airflow, leading to improved engine efficiency and power without a hefty price tag.

    5. Engine Tuning and Fuel Efficiency

    Balancing power and fuel consumption is an art. Keeping the engine tuned properly can enhance efficiency. Making small changes to the engine can improve performance without significant cost. Also, regularly inspect the ATV, UTV, or Side by side for fuel leaks.  

    And speaking of fuel, while most use regular 87 octane fuel, some ATV and UTV models, such as the Polaris RZR Turbo, require a minimum of 91 octane fuel for maximum performance for the four-stroke, turbocharged engine. 

    You can find the fuel recommendations for your specific unit in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

    Pro Tip: 

    In my opinion, the only time you want to change to a higher octane gas than what the manufacturer recommends is when you make a major modification that requires it, like installing a turbo, an ECU tune, or both, which require increased compression. 

    6. Weight Reduction: Shedding Pounds to Improve Performance

    Let's talk about weight. Shedding unnecessary pounds can make your ATV or UTV feel lighter and nimbler. Have you considered ditching those heavy accessories you rarely use? Every pound counts when you're chasing peak performance.

    7. Aftermarket Exhaust Systems: Improve flow for Improved Go

    Consider improving exhaust flow with an aftermarket exhaust system. They can provide a slight power boost and better sound without being too expensive. Sometimes aftermarket exhaust systems will even reduce weight compared to stock systems. 

    Adding a slip-on exhaust is a cost-effective way to increase your ATV, UTV, or Side-by-Side’s power and help reduce weight by allowing more air to leave the engine.


    This simple installation can often be completed by bolting the combined muffler and tailpipe to your vehicle’s existing mid-pipe.

    For a tutorial on how to install a slip-on exhaust, check this out.

    8. Gear Ratios: The Power Shifters

    Gear ratios affect how an ATV, UTV, or Side by Side accelerates and handles on different terrains. Lower ratios provide more torque for climbing or pulling power, while higher ratios offer higher top speeds. Understanding your riding needs and the current gear setup is crucial. Keep these things in mind:

    • Re-Gearing or Changing Sprockets

    Modifying gear ratios can be as simple as changing the front or rear sprockets. Installing a smaller front or larger rear sprocket increases low-end torque, aiding in climbing or acceleration. Conversely, a larger front or smaller rear sprocket can improve top-end speed. This modification is relatively inexpensive compared to other upgrades.

    • Cost-Effective Performance Boost

    Adjusting gear ratios doesn't require expensive parts or extensive modifications. Sprocket changes are relatively affordable and can offer noticeable improvements in performance, especially in specific riding conditions like trails, hills, or sand.  

    Insider Tip:

    Ensure the new gear ratios match the 
    engine's capabilities and won't cause
    excessive strain or damage in the long-run.


    And there you have it! Eight ways to unlock the hidden potential of your ATV, UTV, or Side by Side without draining your bank account. It's about finding that sweet spot where performance meets affordability. So, apply these tips, and let's hit those trails with a little extra pep in our rides! Happy riding, everyone!


    ✅ Are these upgrades applicable to all ATV, UTV, and Side by Side models?
    While many upgrades are universal, it’s crucial to check compatibility with specific vehicle models before making any modifications.

    ✅ Do these modifications affect the vehicle’s warranty?
    Altering certain components may void the warranty. It’s advisable to consult the manufacturer or a certified mechanic before making significant changes.

    ✅ Can I install these upgrades myself, or do I need professional help?
    Simple upgrades like changing tires can be DIY, but complex modifications, 
    especially those related to the engine or suspension, might require professional 


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