How To Install A Can-Am UTV Heater
Sep 28th 2022
Although there are many great aftermarket heaters out there for Can-Am side-by-sides, no all-encompassing heater kit exists to meet the needs of every rider in every situation. A small 12V electric heater might be ideal for those who experience mild temperature fluctuations throughout the year, but this type of Can-Am UTV heater is insufficient for sub-zero temperatures. Similarly, you might want a heater with built-in windshield defrosters to maintain a clear line of sight, or a heater with rear vents if you have a 4-door Can-Am MAX. The engine heat produced by pre-2021 Commanders might be all you need to stay warm – just take the center plastics off and you’re good to go! But in extreme environments, a dedicated cab heater is almost compulsory. Be it an Inferno cab heater for your Can-Am Defender HD10, an Ice Crusher cab heater for your Can-Am Maverick, or an OEM BRP heater for your Can-Am Commander XTP, here is how to install a Can-Am UTV heater!
Installing A Heater In The Can-Am Defender
Many folks comment on the vague instructions that come with OEM Can-Am heaters. In fact, the instructions on all OEM Can-Am parts are subpar to say the least – it’s almost like they want you to be forced to have your dealer install them!
If you buy a heater kit from Everything Can-Am Offroad, it will come with setup instructions that are pretty straightforward and easy to follow. That being said, however, there are a few tips and tricks that’ll make the installation process a bit quicker and a whole lot easier.
When installing an Inferno cab heater in a Can-Am Defender, Defender MAX XT, or any other edition of the Can-Am Defender, be extremely careful when cutting the warning plastic out of your dash cubby. There are wiring harnesses located directly behind, which will get cut if you go at it too vigorously. Heating the blade of a utility knife can help you slice through the dash plastics, and as far as the bottom vents go, a 2” hole saw is the ideal size.
Hooking up the water lines can also be tricky when installing a Can-Am Defender heater, as you have to splice the return line for the heater into the line that comes out of the bottom of the radiator. Where you splice, however, varies from one model year to the next. You might have to splice your heater feed lines into the lines back by the engine, and the return lines after the radiator – making sure that the feed is before the thermostatic bypass. In 2021, though, the thermostat was moved away from the engine and closer to the radiator.
One thing that your heater install instructions might not mention is how to route the new main aluminum tube down the center of the vehicle. At first glance, it might look like there isn’t enough room for it, but if you shift the wiring harness that runs along the floor down into the notch below where the tube runs, you should have just enough space!
Bleeding The System
In order for your heater to work properly, there mussent be any air in the system. And to bleed the air out of the lines, you can fill the coolant reservoir past the max level, start the motor, and wait till it gets to operating temperature. While it’s running, you then squeeze the coolant hoses repeatedly and watch the reservoir for bubbles. When you get to the upper radiator hose, the air should start to burp out, and the reservoir level should drop significantly. Top up the reservoir and let your buggy idle until you get warm air coming out of the heater.
Installing A Heater In The Can-Am Maverick
There’s a lot of overlap between the installation of heaters in the Defender and the Maverick. Some folks tap into the hot hose with a valve between the heater core lines to force water through the heater core and then back to the radiator. Others tap into the hot hose as soon as it comes out of the heads, and then send it back through the heater return output down beside the water pump. Again, it depends on the Can-Am Maverick heater kit you choose as well as your vehicle year / edition.
Installing A Heater In The Can-Am Commander
Aside from tapping into the coolant lines and burping the air out of the system, knowing where to mount your Can-Am Commander heater can also be a little tricky. Most riders mount their heaters in front of the center console, but you can also make your own bracket and mount it in the void space under the intake.
If you’re struggling to keep your windshield from fogging up, the circulating air from a simple 12 volt fan pointed at the windshield might be enough to keep it clear. But if you move snow with your rig or live in an area where extreme cold fronts are the norm, an Inferno or Ice Crusher kit will keep you cozy year round. Furthermore, heaters will also help to lower engine temperatures during the summer!
Other Pieces Of Can-Am UTV Heater Advice
Some riders say to not use the supplied hose clamps that come with specific heater kits, but others use them without a problem, so that's something to be mindful of at the vary least. Watch your temp gauge and you might find that when you’re moving slower, the engine temps are around 200 -- and therefore your heater works like a champ. But if you pick up the pace and ride at a faster clip, your engine temps might drop to 175, which will make the air coming out of your heater feel colder.
Consequently, when it’s super cold outside, you might have to cover your radiator. You can make your own “winter front” out of a thick rubber semi flap trimmed to fit in front of the radiator. Pop out the center grill and your home-made winter front can slide right up in there without any tools or mounts required!
It’s also important to check your top cover, as a lot of air can come in through there. And if your cab has gaps that allow cold air to infiltrate, make sure to fill those up too!
Strange Sounds Coming From Your Can-Am UTV Heater
After installing a heater in your Can-Am side-by-side, you might hear a high-pitch sound that resembles a dog whistle when riding. This can stem from a number of things. If it’s a pinched vent hose, you can pull the bottom cover off with 3 screws, pull the 4 nuts that hold the heater in place, and shift the unit forward / away from the dash to see how the vent hoses are routed. There are 4 vent hoses along the back, the two large ones are for the windshield defrosters, while the two small ones are for the side window defrosters. A whistling heater can also be caused by other forms of air restriction – be it in the vents, louvers, or elsewhere – so be on the lookout for that!