The differential is a sophisticated piece of equipment that controls and distributes engine torque to the driving wheels. The differential shifts the engine torque’s direction so that your Ranger’s drive wheels turn in the proper direction using a gear set made up of ring and pinion gears. The gear ratio produced by the ring gear and pinion gear also multiplies torque.
The differential includes a set of side gears and pinion gears placed inside a carrier assembly. Spider gears are the combined name for pinion gears and side gears. The spider gears enable the drive wheels to revolve at various speeds, which allows the vehicle to turn a corner without skidding. The side gear’s spline attaches to the axle shafts, which are connected to the wheels, and the ring gear is bolted to the carrier assembly.
The separate parts of the differential assembly are supported by a variety of bearings, which also enable rotation with little friction. Fluid is poured into the differential to keep everything lubricated. Further, the Polaris Ranger boasts Turf Mode, which allows you to take tight turns at work or on the hunt and drive on the grass with minimal damage.
What Causes Differential Problems?
The use of improper and specialty lubricants is the main reason for differentials. Water can also cause a differential failure by entering through the vent or seals. This frequently occurs when driving through high water. When water gets inside, it can emulsify the differential lubrication and cause rusting on the surfaces of the gears and bearings.
Differential failure can also be brought on by vibrating seized U-joints. Sometimes the differential’s internal parts just become worn out from regular use. Additional frequent factors for differential failure include:
- Low fluid
- Contaminated fluid
- An incorrect drive line angle
- Seized or severely worn u-joints
- Larger than regular tires or mismatched tires
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Common Signs of Polaris Ranger Differential Issues
Usually, you can tell When your rear differential starts to wear out. You will likely encounter the following:
- Abnormal noises:
Unusual noises are frequently one of the initial warning indications of a differential issue. The ring and pinion gear set or one of the differential’s bearings may malfunction if the drive axle makes a whining or growling noise while you are moving. Unlubricated interior parts of the differential could also bring on the whining sound.
- Shaking and vibrations:
When accelerating, you can detect vibration in the driveshaft if the rear differential’s universal joints are severely worn and torn.
- Rattling while idling:
After starting your car and shifting into drive, you might hear rattling from the back of the car. This can indicate a lousy driveshaft joint or differential.
- Tire damage:
Rotating your tires at the same pace when taking corners will cause the inner tires to wear out or, worse yet, sustain damage prematurely.
- Gear grinding:
Gear grinding and humming noises are additional signs that your rear differential may have problems.
- Difficulty in handling and acceleration:
You’ll notice a loss of precision when making turns when your rear differential begins to wear out.
- Fluid with metal compounds:
A significant amount of metal contamination in the differential fluid indicates internal failure of the differential.
- Fluid leaks:
To function correctly, the universal joint and rear differential have seals and utilize lubricants. A leak or fractured seal could bring on rear differential gear failure and vibrations. Typically, the differential’s fluid leaks are brought by worn-out seals. But there are also times when a defective differential part, such as a pinion bearing beyond its prime, might result in a leaky seal.
Polaris Ranger Turf Mode Problems
The Polaris Ranger Turf Mode problem is a complicated one. Most posts you will find online about Polaris Ranger turf mode issues are written by people who have added significant lift kits and other aftermarket modifications. It can give you the impression that those who own stock Rangers don’t have any issues with turf mode. But many people who own a fully stock Ranger have noticed that their turf mode will suddenly explode even while not using it.
Although mechanical failures associated with turf mode can happen because of a design defect and cheap parts, driver error is frequently to blame for turf mode issues. Frequently, the operator activates grass mode while the side-by-side wheels are still rotating or while the machine is moving. However, a weak or faulty connection could also be why the solenoid locks or unlocks on its own. The gear teeth may grind, bind, or even break off in any of the scenarios.
Poor assembly on the part of the diff’s manufacturer may cause a set screw to lose tension, fall into the contact patch between the ring gear and the bottom of the lower housing on the driver’s side, or it may slip between the ring gear and the lower housing and release. It causes the gears and the rear differential case to break.
Overloading the spool on customized side-by-sides is the other factor contributing to the Polaris Ranger turf mode problem. There have been reports of the fasteners holding the turf mode components together backing out. Usually, this occurs as a result of intense vibration. However, it is better than some would have you believe.
Troubleshooting Polaris Ranger Turf Mode Issues
Typically, turf mode problems in older Polaris Ranger models are the cause of bolts backing out and shuttering the transmission case. You can prevent this by taking apart the transmission and securing the turf bolts in place with Loctite. It stops them from releasing their screws and falling out. Additionally, you can take off the complete turf gear assembly and spool or swap it out for a better spool, like the ones used in Polaris RZRs.
The problem can still happen even though the grass mode on Polaris Ranger models manufactured after 2019 has been fixed. Due to design problems and low-quality components, teeth in the grass gear of more recent Rangers can break. The transmission housing then becomes clogged and cracks as a result of the broken gear teeth falling off. The taller and heavier your tires are, the more probable your turf mode may explode.
The drive wheels may not receive engine torque in cases where the damaged differential has a catastrophic failure. The Ranger will thus be unable to travel independently.
A differential assembly repair requires a lot of money and time, whether you are rebuilding or replacing it. It is recommended that you get a qualified technician to fix it—a complete Polaris Ranger differential costs between $1,039.95 and U$1,869.95 without labor charges.
The Front Differential Issues
Lack of maintenance, poor riding technique, or misuse are common causes of differential problems. Vibration, everyday wear and tear, or mechanical issues brought on by poor design or defective parts can cause bolts to back out and shutter the differential casing. One of the biggest problems with the front differential on the Polaris Ranger is vibration.
Typically, unusual noises are one of the early signs of a front differential problem. There can be an issue with the ring and pinion gear set or one of the differential bearings if the drive axle whines or growls while moving. Twisted or out-of-phase driveshafts can generate shaking and vibration. Shaking and vibration can be caused by driveshafts that are out of phase or twisted.
A Ranger drive shaft that is out of alignment might cause the pinion bearing to separate, which can severely damage the pinion seal. Even if the vibrations only appear while the Ranger is in a four-wheel drive (4WD), the driveshaft may still be the issue because it is only loaded when 4WD is engaged. However, if the vibrations persist, your driveshaft needs to be balanced or replaced. You might try changing the carrier bearing.