Polaris UTV Side X Side Front Differential
The front differential on your side x side needs maintenance to keep working properly.
The Polaris differential has been evolving for many years now. In its beginning, they basically had started the concept in the ATV market and brought over the basic idea to the UTV Side X Side market.
Regular fluid service should be performed more than the service manual tells you, or what you think it might need. The parts inside, along with the magnetic system, work way better with clean fluid.
When I am performing a complete fluid service on most UTV’s (not just Polaris), the front differential is the piece of the drive-train that seems to get water into the fluid. Water can be the most damaging of all the problems that happen inside the differential, destroying bearings and seals, along with rusting and corrosion.
As the UTVs gain more horsepower, the weak spots in the differential start to show up quicker and are more costly. With each upgrade of the Polaris and Can-Am UTV’s, they are getting stronger and larger components, including the Polaris Turbo S getting a new lower mounting design.
In some of the early RZR diff designs, they had a plastic Sprague carrier which would easily break if the wrong hit on the front wheels is too sudden or hard. It snaps the plastic Sprague, and then the roller bearings start to get logged where they should not be, making for many problems and noises in the differential.
The front differential engagement system is quite a unique and interesting design, and the more I have used it, the more I tend to like the idea behind how it works. The front differential only engages when the computer sees the rear wheel slip, and then it sends a signal to complete the ground to the electromagnet. This locks up the armature plate, engaging the roller bearings to both front axle shafts, and releases as soon as the wheel slip is gone.
The biggest drawback to this system is going downhill, where it will probably never see rear-wheel slip. So, you only have the rear wheels holding with engine engagement – there is always a give and take.
When rebuilding these front differentials, you have some options on what aftermarket or dealer parts you want to install. Sandcraft makes the best heavy-duty bearings for this unit but All Balls racing has a bearing kit that works really well, also.
There is one aftermarket part that I will no longer use, and it is the armature plate. This has come about with two separate aftermarket armature plates installed into rebuilt differentials. After getting them all back together, and then testing the system only to find they would not lock up the electromagnet tight enough to engage the side axle carriers. Try and find out what the problem is when you bought brand new parts, not expecting to find a faulty one. So, the first thing you think is that it must be an electromagnetic cover problem and spend $375.00 to discover this was not the problem. It was inferior metal in the aftermarket armature plate. They do not keep testing their products for quality assurance.
Make sure changing your differential fluid becomes more of frequent routine maintenance on your Side x Side UTV. It will help keep this important piece of equipment running and working smoothly, adding more miles before a complete rebuild has to be done.
Be sure to check out our video on rebuilding a Polaris XPT Turbo differential.
Polaris XP1000- Polaris XPT Turbo – Polaris 900 – Polaris XP900
Polaris 800- Polaris 800 S -Polaris General-Polaris Ranger
Whether you are needing just seals replaced or all bearings, give us a call for your Polaris, Can-Am front differential servicing, and stop the tin can sound in your differential.
If you need your differential rebuilt, give us a call and we will get you in and out quickly.
For more information on the differential, rebuilding see our Youtube video at
Owner of UTV Service specializing in shocks and suspension.
I have always loved making cars and now UTV’s run and handle there best. I do not believe in taking short cuts and when something comes along that does not fit my values I will not sell or back that product.
Business owner for over 35 years. 3-Time Nascar short track champion at our local race track Rocky Mountain Raceway in Salt Lake City, Utah
2017 Polaris XPT 2-Seat Turbo-Current
2015 Polaris XP1000 -Sold
2011 Polaris RZR 800- Sold