Why Is My UTV Hard To Steer? | Hunt or Shred

Are you wondering why your UTV is hard to steer? You’re not alone! In this article, I’m going to clarify your confusion and give you some solutions.

There are two major parts to check out if your UTV is hard to steer. It is possible the electric motor that helps you to steer has overheated or gotten too dirty to function properly. Additionally, there may be issues with the circuitry and electronic board such as a malfunctioning torque sensor.

The fact of the matter is that the steering wheel you get with your UTV can vary greatly depending on the manufacturer you get it from. Companies use different steering wheels, and your ability to steer or direct your UTV depends mainly on several factors. This can either be the surface you’re driving it on, the steering wheel installed on the vehicle, your level of experience, or the kind of tires your UTV has.

I will cover what these issues look like in depth so you can be on your way. In my experience steering issues can be inconvenient but don’t worry too much, there’s always a fix.

Table of contents


How Power Steering Changed the UTV Industry

Out of all the features that have had a strong impact on the ATV and UTV industry, no update has been more revolutionary than the power steering. It all started with the Yamaha Blazing. It introduced Electronic Power Steering (EPS) into the world of UTVs and the rest, as they say, is history.

It has become the industry standard that makes riding UTVs a much more enjoyable experience. If you haven’t ridden a UTV with an EPS before, you definitely should! Now I can hear some of you saying that “it’s not too impressive”, but this opinion is purely for people who haven’t driven one before.

Some people may also say that it’s not worth the price. Yet again, this depends on the people who have enjoyed the experience. But what about those amongst us who have never had the experience altogether? If you haven’t ridden a UTV with EPS before, you’d be glad to know that most UTVs nowadays have EPS.

Everyone who owns a vehicle is practically accustomed to power steering in their automobiles since it’s a standard operational feature across the automobile industry. However, a few vehicles in the market don’t have this nifty feature. This can be off-putting since the demand for EPS-equipped UTVs is rising. However, the problems with steering start to arise when UTV aficionados start debating the difference between non-power steering and power steering. Both have their pros and their cons.

If you aren’t familiar with the problems one can face with UTV steering wheels, here are some of them you should know.

Here’s Why Your UTV is Hard to Steer

Even though the UTV industry has made a swift transition toward the UTV steering model, it has come with its fair share of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is an underlying compliment to the setup: excessive demand. Since every UTV rider wants a vehicle with power steering, it’s also essential that they prepare themselves for the problems         .

Some of these are electronic failures that need a different approach. These aren’t the usual hydraulic and mechanical problems you’ve seen before, so solving them is a different ball game altogether. Thankfully, though, you can start studying these different failure modes today to prepare yourself for the potential solutions.

Some Common EPS Problems

There are three common electronic steering wheel failures that you will often see when riding a UTV. These three failures can be torque sensor problems, motor, and electronic problems. Below, I’ve listed a quick rundown of the different types of failures associated with each of these problems. Each of these errors is related to your UTV’s drive system. It has an electric motor and a pinion.

Here are some potential motor-related problems.

Problems with the Motor

Nowadays, UTV steering wheels mostly fail due to problems with mounted electric motors. In particular, the excessive heat on the motor causes the most problems. The motor’s systems can also get infiltrated by dirt, water, or any other contaminant, leading to steering problems for UTV. Moreover, brush style architectures are also a lot more prone to carbon contamination, leading to steering hurdles. In rare cases, you may not be able to control the steering wheel at all.

If you feel that your UTV’s steering wheel is not performing the way it should, slow the vehicle down and bring it down to a complete halt. Now start the engine, and start driving it at a slow pace. As you drive the UTV, turn the steering wheel slowly and check how well the vehicle responds. If it responds quickly, then the UTV is working fine, and you shouldn’t have a problem driving it at higher speeds.

However, if the vehicle’s response time is shoddy, you shouldn’t take the risk of driving it.

Circuitry and the Electronic Board

Another problem that often creates problems with UTV’s steering wheel is the circuitry or the electronic boards on your UTV. The power steering on your UTV will process the electric signals passing through your ATV. To put it simply, it’s a communication hub between the circuits and the sensors installed on your UTV.

In particular, your UTV has intentional failure modes that lookout for power and heat irregularities. Your UTV’s sensors regularly monitor the resistors, MOSFETs, capacitors, and relays for any disturbances. These can create more of a problem when they’re located close to the exhaust components and the engine of your UTV. When the system gets infiltrated by dirt, water, or any other substance, it can also create potential problems with your EPS.

The microprocessors installed in your UTV shouldn’t be a concern when you’re taking on the diagnosis and repair of your UTV’s steering wheel.

Torque Sensor

Finally, another type of problem that can arise which makes it hard for you to steer your UTV is a poorly functioning torque sensor. A torque sensor that has stopped working is usually the most common problem with UTV steering systems. There are two kinds of torque sensors.

  • Contacting torque sensors
  • Non-contacting torque sensors

A contacting sensor has a much higher failure rate than a non-contacting one. A contacting sensor has metallic points which tend to degrade over time. This is usually what causes them to wear out over time.

Still don’t understand why your UTV steering wheel is causing problems? Here’s how they work.

UTV Steering Wheels: How Do They Work?

Full disclaimer: since EPS has become the market standard and most UTV vehicles are shipped with this feature. I will explain how the EPS system works on UTVs, which isn’t too complicated. The EPS system on your UTV has an electric motor mounted on the steering column, reducing the effort you have to steer your vehicle. That’s the whole point of power steering wheels.

When an EPS system is installed on a UTV, it has a shaft running down from the wheel to the EPS motor, and there’s a second shaft that runs down to the steering rack. Several EPS systems have a computer module installed, which can adjust the level of assistance a driver gets from the electric motor on the vehicle. However, this can depend on your driving conditions as well. For instance, if you’re driving your UTV at a low speed and in challenging driving conditions, the electric motor will provide increased assistance to the steering wheel to ensure you get the least possible feedback from the surface.

This can make you understand the role of the motor. As I mentioned earlier, the motor can go bad pretty easily, and when that happens, the “assistance” part of your EPS stops working. As a result, your arms feel the impact of rough surfaces more. You will have less assistance from the motor at a higher speed since steering your UTV at a higher speed is relatively easier, even if you don’t have EPS.

It’s also essential to remember that all manufacturers have their own EPS systems, but the system's basic layout and architecture are the same. Some manufacturers can use additional sensors, making their EPS systems a lot more responsive. This may not float well with all UTV riders since some riders prefer that little rugged feeling they get while off-roading. Honda is one of those manufacturers that uses an increasingly responsive EPS system, and it works pretty well for them.

However, it’s almost impossible to install after purchase on the downside. If you want an EPS system from Honda and don’t want to go through the incredibly hard task of installing one on your UTV, I recommend buying a UTV from Honda, period. Other manufacturers make the EPS installation part easier, so there are some EPS systems you can install on your UTV. There are some aftermarket kits that you can install on UTVs that don’t have EPS, too.

Other Steering Problems

Since there are several moving parts to a UTV’s steering system, many things can go wrong. Whether it’s hard for you to make a sharp turn or whether it wears out gradually, here’s a comprehensive troubleshooting guide that can help you figure out the potential problems with your UTV’s steering wheel. Read the steps mentioned below, and your UTV’s steering will be up and running in no time!

Common Mistakes People While Installing EPS

  • Wires not wired into the keyed source
  • The plugs on the vehicle aren’t properly seated
  • There’s insufficient voltage flowing towards the ECU

Let’s go over them one by one.

Wires Not Wired into the Keyed Source

If the activation wire hasn’t been connected as it should be to the source, you’re going to see a few problems. Your UTV won’t power on at all. When the key turns, this wire is hot, and that’s the way it should be. First, you’ll have to ensure that the connection between the wire and the source is robust. When the connection is loose, you lose power, which is dangerous.

The Plugs On The Vehicle Aren’t Properly Seated

Checking the connections of your UTV is a straightforward process. You’ll first have to unplug all the connectors on your ECU. You’ll have to wait a few minutes before you plug them back in to ensure they’re fully seated. When you push them back into the system, you will feel a click. If you don’t feel a click         . They may be interfering with the socket, which is interrupting the connection.

There’s Insufficient Voltage Flowing Towards The ECU

When checking the resistance on your UTV’s motor, ensure that the wires from the motor flowing towards the ECU aren’t connected. Your vehicle must be turned off during this process, too. Now, set your multimeter on an ohm setting. Next, check the ohm’s reading on the motor and the lead plugs that are going towards the motor.

This reading is also important, and you should check it repetitively (at least three times) to ensure it’s accurate. The results that you see should fall between 0.1 to 1.4 ohms. If you see a higher rating, you may have a bad motor.

Are Power Steering Systems Worth It?

Finding any negatives in power steering systems can be hard. They make off-roading a lot easier however they do cost a lot. UTVs with an EPS cost a lot more, which can be a problem for UTV fans trying to stay true to a budget. There may be some cases in which you’d have to upgrade to a premium model or one that’s made in limited numbers. These can include the features you want, but they may also bump up the price tag         .

Moreover, an added EPS system further complicates things by adding parts that can easily go wrong. The kind of steering you choose to go with depends on the surface you’re riding your UTV on. Is the hassle worth the convenience they provide?

You be the judge!




41 years old. I'm a freelance writer that specializes in informational blog posts. All my articles are detail oriented and well researched. I'm a huge Arizona Cardinals fan!

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