Throughout the years, we’ve received countless phone calls, texts, and emails from people looking to repair, replace, or upgrade their Polaris Ranger axles. Some people were experiencing issues with the length and fitment of their aftermarket Polaris Ranger axles, while others were concerned about the strength and durability of the CV joints, boots, and other drive-train components.
The best axles would obviously be the strongest and most expensive options… right? Well... not necessarily. In this post,
we’re going to unpack the axle’s role within the system that is a Polaris Ranger. We touch on physics and materials science, digging deep to shed further light on the debate that inferior axles could be better for your offroad UTV lifestyle.
Is a Stronger Axle Superior?
If you look at the top mud machines and high-horsepower racer Rangers, the majority run stronger and larger axles -- most of which sourced from one of the two industry leading firms: Turner and Gorilla. Both Turner Axles and Gorilla Axles are significantly larger than stock Polaris Ranger Axles. The cage, shaft sizes, and even the CV joints are noticeably more burly. Yet because of their size, they are less flexible, an issue that we’ll discuss later when we touch on energy absorption
Many argue that it saves money and hassle, in the long run, to buy one Gorilla axle instead of buying several cheaper axles. If you take a step back, however, and use a holistic approach to view the UTV system in its entirety, you’ll see that the effects of a strong axle extend far beyond the axles themselves, affecting many other components of the Polaris Ranger either directly or indirectly.
The point that we’re trying to push is that when it comes to replacing a front or rear Polaris Ranger axle, bigger is not necessarily better. Before you swap out or upgrade your machine's axles, you should understand the fact that, in many cases, it may be worth replacing an axle every once and a while to save other components of your ride.
The best systems will effectively absorb energy when traversing rough and rugged terrain. However, many people don’t understand the fact that there is a huge difference between absorbing energy and transferring it down the driveline for the next component to deal with.
Due to their rigidness, strength, and inflexibility, bulky axles essentially protect themselves and themselves alone. They don’t work in tandem with the other driveline components, leading to broken ball joints, differentials, and transmissions -- mechanical parts that are much more costly and time-consuming to repair and replace.
So if your goal is to have the strongest and beefiest axles imaginable, a set of Gorilla Axles or Turner Axles -- which aren’t cheap -- are your best bet. But if you don’t want your axles to be the strongest link in your UTV part-chain, a cheaper, weaker, axle break on the shaft before transferring large forces onto other drive-train components.
But even with the lower-range Polaris Ranger Axles, there are winners and there are losers. A big factor that differentiates the two is the warranty the manufacturer provides.
So we’ve come to the conclusion that it may be in your best interests to go with a cheaper axel. Better yet, a cheaper axle with an extended, long-term, warranty. In this way, even if you do end up breaking your new axle within the warranty period, you’ll get a brand new replacement free of charge.
A lot of manufacturers -- like the companies that produce Rhino Axles and SuperATV Axles -- will honor their warranties no-questions-asked. So regardless of whether it breaks while you’re racing your buddy blindfolded or after you hit a fence post while chugging a Papst Bue Ribbon, they’ll ship you a new axle to replace your broken one -- provided that it’s still under warranty of course.
If you know your machine, terrain, and riding style, you’ll have a better understanding of your axle needs. While a $400 axle is in fact very well made and overengineered, you should ask yourself, is it even worth it? Sure your axle would never break, but at what costs.
Maybe, a cheaper axle from a company that offers a better warranty/exchange policy and more accommodating customer services would be more beneficial. Because, at the end of the day, the less time you spend arguing with stickler customer service representatives, the more time you’ll have to rip your Polaris Ranger.