A lot of Polaris Ranger owners could care less about how their side-by-side looks, and instead prioritize things like utility, practicality, excitement, and overall recreational enjoyment. But beauty and functionality don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can have a workhorse machine that gets things done during the work week, and then cleans up exceptionally well for that weekend UTV event. There’s no shame in wanting a beautiful Polaris Ranger exterior, and just because your Ranger, Ranger Crew, or Ranger Full-Size is clean and conforms to your personal aesthetic preferences, doesn’t mean that it’s a trailer queen that never gets down and dirty. But what can one do to alter the look of their UTV? Keep reading, because that’s what we’re discussing here!
Painting The Polaris Ranger Exterior
The color selection of factory Polaris Ranger body panels is limited to say the least. So if you want your rig to be a specific color, pattern, or texture that Polaris doesn’t offer, one option is to paint your Polaris Ranger body plastics. Some folks argue that paint doesn’t last on rough and tumble vehicles like the Polaris Ranger. But if you do it right, follow proper protocol, and don’t cut any corners during the prep process, you can get a paint job that’ll withstand tree limbs, clay, dust, and anything else you might encounter in the field.
When painting anything from metal and wood to plastic and stone, preparation is usually the biggest and most important part of the process, and painting Polaris Ranger body panels is no different. To begin, you’ll want to sand everything down smooth to remove scratches, scuffs, and other residue. You can do this relatively quickly and easily using tools like paint strippers, soda blasters, and pressure cleaners -- but be careful with the latter, as you might damage the panels if you get to vigorous with it. After all the panels that comprise your Polaris Ranger exterior are flat, featureless, and free of debris, you can then apply a plastic adhesion promoter like BullDog by the Eastwood Company. Once that drys, you can prime your plastics with a high-build primer, then apply a base or clear coat. Subsequently apply a few coats of the desired color of Polaris Ranger paint and then reinstall your panels. You might have damaged a few of the pop rivets that hold the panels on during disassembly -- that is, if you don't own a rivet-pulling tool -- but those are cheap and easily replaceable.
Wrapping The Polaris Ranger Exterior
Instead of painting your rig’s exterior for greater curb appeal, another option is to apply a vinyl body wrap. Polaris made their body plastics using a specific kind of polymer that is difficult to paint over -- even with the right prepping chemicals to ensure good adhesion. So if you’ve tried painting your bike and it keeps chipping off -- or if you want a detailed design / pattern that is almost impossible to produce by hand -- a Polaris Ranger wrap job could be the right solution for you. There are many aftermarket Poalris Ranger wraps out there that you can order and install yourself. Alternatively, shops that wrap automobiles should also be able to wrap your Ranger, so it might be worth reaching out to your local body repair shop.
You can wrap your vehicle’s entire exterior, or wrap specific sections like the hood, side panels, doors, etc. If you’re creating the wrap design yourself, make sure to print it on premium cast 3M vinyl made to apply on low energy surfaces (like plastic). Like with painting, the prep work you conduct before wrapping your UTV is also critical. Cleaning chemicals like Prep-Sol and OS-2 can work, but simple acetone can also help to remove oils, waxes, fingerprints, and coatings on both interior and exterior plastic surfaces. Be careful, though, as acetone will almost immediately cloud up and degloss polypropylene plastics like those in the Ranger. The trick is to lightly rub, not soak, the plastics with a shop towel containing a splash of acetone. If you wipe it off right after, it will have just enough time to do its thing against gunk without causing any plastic damage!
Coating The Polaris Ranger Exterior
Be it for a glossy shine or to repel dust, mud, and water, Polaris Ranger exterior finishing coats are solid options that can be used to make any Ranger look like Miss. America. Ceramic coatings are popular, but each brand uses a different formulation. Some Polaris Ranger ceramic coatings don’t last, and as soon as you flex your machine's plastics, micro fractures develop in the coating surface which capture dirt and give the appearance of smudges. These smudges are then difficult or nearly impossible to remove, which is something that puts a lot of riders off.
Coatings like Swamp Shield, Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions, and IGL are among the best. And for those that want a super clean finish but don’t want to ceramic coat their Polaris Ranger exterior, products like Coverall and SC1 also come highly recommended. Hit your headlights with a polishing compound, apply some Rain-X to your glass windscreens, and your Ranger will be slicker than alligator spit!
Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder
At the end of the day, so long as you’re happy with the look of your Polaris Ranger exterior, who cares what anyone else has to say. If it’s worth it for you to invest the time and money into beautifying your bike, then so be it. In the proverbial words of Jon Bon Jovi, it’s your life, and it’s now or never. You know you're not going to live for ever so do what makes you happy and leaver the haters behind in a cloud of dust!