High Point Hummer & ATV: The Sound Levels of UTVs Explained
Note: For the purposes of this article, we will consider the terms “OHV”, “ATV”, “Side-By-Side”, “SXS”, “RZR”, and “Razor” as interchangeable with the term “UTV” as these terms is often used interchangeably by the general public and in inquiries regarding our rental fleet and tours.
Various factors are at play in making UTVs seem louder than other types of street legal vehicles to some people. UTVs are street legal in many parts of Utah. There are various reasons, for example performance, UTVs are designed to be different than your average car or truck.
UTV Engine Sound Basics
The performance dynamics of the engine of a UTV are complicated in the way it functions. UTV engines are relatively small, and in order to create horsepower, UTV manufacturers have chosen to run these motors at sustained high RPMs. UTVs with a parallel twin cylinder design can create a droning sound that seems louder than it may test on a decibel meter. High Point has chosen to use UTVs that have a three cylinder or a V-twin design. These engine types are not only quieter to both decibel meters and to human ear perception (both inside and outside of the machine), but they are also more reliable.
As vehicles age, the sound they make can increase. An older exhaust system can potentially lose sound, reducing capability. Here at High Point Hummer & ATV, we don’t reuse our rental UTVs for multiple years, and prefer to rent the latest and best machines available. Every year, we replace UTVs in our fleet. When we do, we evaluate all the UTVs on the market, choosing the UTVs that are:
- The most stable and reliable on the market,
- The most comfortable for our guests inside the UTVs and our community outside of UTVs
- The most reliable UTVs for the unique terrain of Moab.
Engine Enclosures Are Not Sound Insulated by Design
UTVs are designed with the engines in the rear of the vehicle. While this design makes the vehicle much more capable and comfortable than a traditional Jeep or 4×4, it does add difficulties in the sound mitigation department. The rear of the vehicle has less available air flow to dissipate heat and consequently is left open to keep that heat away from occupants and their coolers.
All UTV manufacturers use heat and sound shielding directly on the exhaust pipes to reduce both heat and noise. However, the extent and care that goes into this design varies by UTV manufacturer and the sportiness of the UTV. Our UTVs come from the manufacturers with premium sound mitigating shields and large muffler to engine displacement ratios.
The mechanics at High Point have spent weeks working with exhaust manufacturers and off-road race fabricators to understand sound and to learn how we can take steps to reduce it. This knowledge is integral to our selection process when purchasing UTVs. After the purchase and before our UTVs hit the roads and trails our mechanics thoroughly inspect the engine bays to make sure all the exhaust is assembled correctly. We also test to see if we can reduce overall sound by adding additional sound absorbers. Finally, we trim and secure any heat shields that may be acting as resonators.
We never put on aftermarket exhausts that would increase the sound levels of our UTVs. However, we have used every connection that we have in the off-road community to push for OEM manufacturers and aftermarket exhaust suppliers to offer quiet exhaust system alternatives. Slowly these systems are coming to the market.
Tire noise is also a significant contributor to overall sound levels from any vehicle, this effect is greater on any vehicle with more open wheel wells. UTVs and other very capable trail rigs need open wheel wells to accommodate more suspension travel than a commuter car. UTV manufacturers choose tires that are affordable and may work decently in a wide variety of riding areas.
The Moab landscape is a uniquely rough and dry desert. At High Point we take off the decent stock OEM tires and replace them with the best UTV all terrain tires. While not super aggressive they are similar to tire designs that are used on Desert Race vehicles. The all-terrain design is more predictable while driving across differing terrain types and is much more durable in a rocky desert environment. These tires have tread patterns that are much tighter than a typical offroad “mud bog” design that is popular in other riding areas. This relatively tight tread greatly reduces the road noise generated by our UTVs.
Safer and quieter.
Utah is one of a handful of states in the USA that allow the freedom of driving your UTV on the streets in many of the state’s towns and cities.
At High Point Hummer & ATV, we respect our community and make every possible effort to keep our rental UTVs and UTV tours from impacting our friends and neighbors.
Driving Street Legal OHVs In Moab
(Reprinted here from https://moabcity.org/580/OHVs-In-Moab)
Utah law allows street-legal OHVs to be driven through town and directly to backcountry trailheads. However, noise from off-highway vehicles (OHVs) is a significant concern to Moab’s residents.
To help curb noise, the City Council has enacted a lower 15-mile-per-hour speed limit for OHVs on City streets. The Council has also enacted a noise ordinance that includes regulations for street-legal ATVs/UTVs and off-road motorcycles.
OHV Tips for Driving In Moab
To reduce noise and improve the quality of life for Moab residents, the City of Moab requires all street-legal OHVs to comply with the 15 mile-per-hour speed limit on posted City streets.
- All street-legal OHV Drivers must obey the 15 MPH speed limit
- Citations will be issued for speeding
- Avoid driving through residential neighborhoods whenever possible
- Avoid driving at night to help maintain peace and quiet in residential neighborhoods
The City of Moab is in a unique situation regarding OHV noise. Moab is located in a valley, so noise echoes off the surrounding walls and is amplified in surrounding neighborhoods. Also, the most popular routes for OHVs (for example Sand Flats and Kane Creek) are accessed primarily through residential neighborhoods.
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