How to buy - Utility vehicles and ATVs

Consider your locations, site conditions and tasks when choosing one of these transporters.

Whether you need to dash across the golf course, negotiate woodland, climb hills or trek to the far reaches of the estate, there will be a utility or all-terrain vehicle to suit. And if you need to transport staff, fertilisers, seeds or kit, want to spray pavements or sweep driveways, there’s a utility or ATV to suit. The wide range available means models can be found for most sites and tasks but it is essential to choose the right one.

There are two things to consider. First, look at the location and the conditions of the site where you intend to use the vehicle. If the site has steep hills and boggy ground you are going to need a "mountain goat" of a machine; one that is high powered, has four-wheel drive and differentials. On the other hand, if the job demands running across flat, urban parkland, such a machine would be over specified.

Size matters

Consider access through gateways, under archways and across bridges. If you are hoping the vehicle will help you to tackle incidents as they happen, the last thing you want is to have to go the long way round because the vehicle is too wide for the gap in the wall.

Environmental issues, such as emissions and noise, will take on different levels of importance depending on your policies, the site, public access and the type of work being undertaken. Consideration of these points may determine the best power source. Golfers, for instance, tend not to respond well if a noisy engine interrupts their final putt.

Similarly, visitors to a large garden or country estate may be seeking out peace and quiet. They want to hear the birds singing — not motorbike engines. And they want to smell the flowers — not diesel or petrol fumes. Perhaps battery-powered vehicles would be best?

But then, perhaps the choice of power is restricted? Make sure you have an appropriate fuel source or re-charging facility. Obtaining planning permission for LPG storage tanks is not always straightforward.

As well as considering the site, you must look at the tasks the vehicle will perform and match the vehicle specification accordingly. Do you need to race across the site to check out vandalism? There is a good choice of quad bikes capable of fast speeds across the roughest of ground. Perhaps staff transportation is a priority? A wide choice of two-seaters are available and a three-seater utility recently came on the market. Some other models can be adapted to carry six, eight or even 12 people.

Or perhaps you need to transport materials and equipment? Quad-bikes have front and rear carriers suited to transporting bags of seed or fertiliser. The flatbed utility vehicle on the other hand, can carry large volumes of loose materials, handheld power kit and tools. Double check the carrying capacity of the vehicle is appropriate to your needs and that the loading height is right for you.

Make sure the cargo bed is anti-corrosive or has a lining if you are likely to transport wet materials and consider whether a vehicle with a tipping facility would be useful. Look at the optional extras such as leaf cages for extending the load volume.

You might also want the ATV or utility to help out with mowing tasks, sweeping, spraying or spreading fertiliser. A wide range of trailed equipment is available to further extend the use of such vehicles and you will find that a few utilities are also fitted with power-take-offs.

Other options, such as headlights and all-weather cabs, may be available for the vehicles on your shortlist. Thought should be given as to whether any of these would be useful now or in the near future. Finally, you need to specify the most suitable tyres for the vehicle depending on the surfaces you expect the vehicle to be driven.

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