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A Detailed Understanding Of The Polaris Ranger Turf Mode Issue

If you go around researching turf mode issues on the Polaris Ranger, you’ll likely end up more confused than you started. Many people you’ll talk to might say that the newer Polaris Rangers don’t have the same turf mode issues as the older ones. Others might say that the turf mode problem is a complete myth. We here at Everything Polaris Ranger, however, realize this is a nuanced issue. We know guys who’ve run thousands of miles on jacked up Rangers with monster tires, with zero issues with their machine’s turf mode. We also know guys who busted their turf mode on stock machines with low triple-digit milage while loading them on a trailer. So what’s the deal? Is there a problem with the turf mode on the Polaris Ranger? And if so, what can one do to mitigate damage?

The obvious truth of the power sports world is that if you go out and beat the crap out of your machine, things are bound to break. We know certified Polaris mechanics with over 10K miles on their Rangers that have never had even the slightest issue with their turf mode. 

Now if you jack your Polaris Ranger way up and put tractor tires on it, there will be added stress, which will make the chances of messing your buggy up more likely. You’ll frequently hear people bashing the reverse chain and turf mode issues, but you have to think that Polaris has been around for ages, and If they didn’t make a good quality machine they would surely be out of business. So yes, the turf mode is an issue, but you can’t discount operator induced issues. 

A fair number of Polaris Ranger turf mode destructions can be attributed to operator error — whereby a driver engages while moving or spinning their tires. Even if you’re not deliberately engaging your transmission while the tires are in motion, it is possible for the solenoid to have a bad connection and lock in and out on its own, causing the gears teeth to break. 

That and Overloading the spool on modified side-by-sides are the primary reasons that turf mode explosions occur. Yes there are some cases of the bolts backing out, but the only way this happen is by having a great deal of vibration. It does happen but not to the extent some would like to portray.

This issue of bolts backing out and busting the transmission case was the typical culprit in the older Polaris Ranger models. To prevent this, you must take the transmission apart and glue the turf bolts in with Loctite to prevent them from backing out. Alternatively, you can delete the turf gear and spool all together, or install a better spool like the ones used in the Polaris RZR.

Although the issue is less frequent in newer editions of the Polaris Ranger, it can still occur. Cheap components and design can cause teeth to break in the turf gear of newer Rangers, which then falls off, binds things up, and causes the transmission case to break. 

If you go online, almost all of the posts you’ll see regarding issues with turf mode involve people jacking with their machines, which might leave you to believe that those who leave them stock will have zero issues. A long-time customer of ours used to think the same thing. His Ranger was completely stock, and luckily the transmission case didn’t break as he heard it popping and brought it straight to the shop. 

The taller and heavier the tire, the more your chances of busting your turf mode go up. Bigger tires put more stress on the rear axle, and this stress adds heat. So even if you put Loctite on your bolts, heat can the bondage in Loctite to break down. So bigger tires can be a reason for the bolts loosening up.  

The 2019 Ranger has improved turf mode, but it’s not bullet proof. You can jumped your Ranger, roll it over a few times, and break multiple front differentials without breaking the turf mode. That being said, it’s cheaper to fix it before it breaks. And if you’re running a lifted machine with heavy tires, your chances of busting your turf mode are only exacerbated.  

If you’ve busted a case and the turf mode, you’re going to need a new case. You should also consider getting a double reverse chain upgrade, a heavy duty pinion plate, and the turf delete (spool). If you don’t ride high speeds, you might also want to consider a gear reduction.

For those who want to do the turf delete themselves, the turf mode comes out relatively easily in one piece, and the spool goes right back in that spot. It’s pretty simple, but getting to a split case is a hassle. Just take your time and try to remember where all of the small pieces go. Once you pull the case apart, pull out the turf gear and drop the other in. There is a retainer that holds the turf mode in — mounted using four Allen head bolts. You should be able to wiggle it out by itself.

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