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What Is a Snow ATV?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

A snow ATV is an all-terrain vehicle that is designed or otherwise altered to function efficiently in snowy conditions. This may mean the ATV's tires are replaced with tracks, much like a tank, or it may mean the vehicle is outfitted with tires designed for traction on snow and ice as well as a plow blade or other accessories that might aid in snow handling. Riding a snow ATV is a bit different than riding an ATV in other conditions, so the vehicle must be "winterized," or protected from freezing temperatures and other damage associated with winter conditions.

Outfitting a snow ATV with tracks is not exceptionally difficult, but the correct tracks must be used and the rider will need to learn how to handle the vehicle with these new traction devices to prevent damage to the vehicle and potential unsafe conditions for the rider. The steering radius will usually be affected when using snow ATV tracks, and the rider will not be able to make turns as quickly or as tightly. Tracks will get better traction than tires in snowy and icy conditions, but this does not mean the tracks will be immune to slipping or sliding on slick surfaces.

Snow ATVs are altered to function in winter conditions.
Snow ATVs are altered to function in winter conditions.

If the snow ATV is using tires instead of tracks, the tires will need to be designed with snow in mind. The tread must be able to shed snow easily to prevent clumping, thereby affecting traction. The vehicle might be outfitted with a plow blade as well so the snow ATV can be used for clearing snow from driveways, walkways, or other flat surfaces. Some ATVs can even accept powered snow blowers, thereby making the vehicle more versatile and useful for moving heavier loads of snow over larger areas of flat surfaces, such as paved parking lots.

Internally, the snow ATV may be treated with motor oil and other lubricants that are specifically formulated to handle cold temperatures. Antifreeze can be used in radiators to prevent cracking or breakdown of cooling elements as well. It is possible to buy and install canopies that mount over the cockpit of the ATV to protect the rider from the elements, particularly when a snow blower attachment is being used at the front of the vehicle. Some of these canopies include windshields as well for further protection. Mud flaps can prevent snow and debris from shooting off the wheels and at other people or objects behind the ATV.

Discussion Comments


What does a snow ATV cost to buy? Are they hard to find used? It sounds like a ton of fun and I have a little money to burn so...

I have seen guys that can do some crazy tricks on a snow ATV. I'm not talking about back flips or anything but they can do spins and so tail whip kind of stuff. I figure it is only a matter of time before it shows up in the X games.

I have been riding ATVs for almost my whole life. But I live in Virginia so we only ever went when it was warm outside.

Well a few years ago I went to visit a buddy in Colorado and he told me he had a surprise for me. I figured that we were going to go snowmobiling but he told me that what we were going to do was even better. Snow ATVs!

Oh my god it was so much fun. The experience is kind of similar to regular ATVs but also way different, and way fun. I can't wait to go visit him again so we can get back out in that snow.

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    • Snow ATVs are altered to function in winter conditions.
      By: mario beauregard
      Snow ATVs are altered to function in winter conditions.