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6 Common RZR Failure Points You Should Know About

6 Common RZR Failure Points You Should Know About

The Polaris RZR is well known among off-road enthusiasts for its power, agility, and versatility. This side-by-side has carved out a significant niche in the powersports market, becoming a favorite choice in both recreation and racing. However, like any high-performing machine, it has had its share of issues to be aware of to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Let’s delve into six common RZR failure points you should know about and review tips on addressing them effectively.

1. Issues With the Clutch

Clutch failure has been one of the most frequently reported issues with the Polaris RZR over the years. The clutch system is crucial in delivering power from the engine to the wheels, and, of course, any malfunction can drastically affect performance. Common signs of clutch issues include inconsistent acceleration, unusual noises during gear shifts, a burning smell, and (more obviously) seizing.

Signs To Watch For

  • Slipping or sticking gears
  • Difficulty in shifting
  • Unusual noises (grinding or squealing)
  • Overheating
  • Reduced performance

To mitigate these issues, it is essential to inspect the clutch system and replace worn-out components regularly. Inspections might be worth adding to the list of to-dos during ongoing maintenance. Upgrading to a high-performance clutch kit can also enhance reliability and performance. If you’re confident in the mechanics and want to dive deeper into your review, then just be sure of what you’re looking for.

The buttons, which traverse vertically along the towers, are the primary wear components of the clutch. During maintenance, if you detect significantly more play at the top of the towers than at the bottom, it indicates the need for primary clutch replacement. Additionally, during inspection, ensure to examine the sheaves (the surfaces where the belt engages) for any pronounced grooves or wear that could potentially damage the belt.

2. Problems With Air Intake

Polaris RZRs are known to experience problems with their air intake systems, which include faulty air filters, unreliable bolts, and a weak intake tube. The latter problem, a part which connects the bed to the air box, can collapse under boost, even on stock cars.

These issues can be aggravated in dusty or muddy environments. Clogged air filters can lead to reduced engine performance and increased fuel consumption, and worse, fouled seals accompanied by defective bolts in the filter canister can allow dust into the engine. This leads to burning oil and eventually requires a top-end rebuild.

Signs To Watch For

  • Reduced engine power
  • Increased fuel consumption
  • Strange noises from the engine
  • Engine warning lights

Inspect the air filter after dusty and muddy excursions, as well as during regular maintenance, to catch and prevent any of these instances. Clean or replace as needed. For better purification and performance, consider investing in a high-flow aftermarket filter option.

3. Frame That Is Not Durable

While the Polaris RZR is designed for rugged terrain, some owners have reported issues with the frame's durability. Continuous exposure to harsh conditions can lead to cracks, bends, and other structural damage, compromising the vehicle's safety and performance. Keep an eye out for loose bolts on the stock dogbones, which can also cause expensive repairs.

If you purchase your side-by-side secondhand, closely examine the frame because any prior rollovers that a seller could be trying to hide could reveal themselves. It’s even possible the trailing arm can take the brunt of the damage in an accident and bend, causing a pull similar to misalignment.

Signs To Watch For

  • Visible cracks or bends in the frame
  • Unusual noises when driving over rough terrain
  • Misalignment of body panels
  • Toeing in from the rear while in motion

Scan the frame for signs of damage and reinforce weak points using frame stiffeners or aftermarket braces. Addressing these issues early can prevent costly repairs and ensure your safety.

4. Issues With Transmission

Transmission problems can severely affect the drivability of the Polaris RZR. Owners have reported issues such as gear slipping, difficulties in shifting, and complete transmission failure. These problems can be exacerbated by aggressive driving and inadequate maintenance.

Signs To Watch For

  • Gear slipping or sticking
  • Delayed or incomplete gear engagement
  • Unusual noises (clunking or whining)
  • Transmission fluid leaks

Maintenance of the transmission system is crucial for the longevity of your side-by-side. By checking the transmission fluid, topping off, and replacing whenever needed, you are removing any other potential issues caused from driving or neglect. Upgrading to a heavy-duty transmission can also offer better reliability for extreme off-road conditions.

5. Difficulties With Radius Rod Plates

The rear radius rod plates on the Polaris RZR help to maintain the alignment and stability of the rear suspension. They ensure the rear wheels remain in the correct position and provide consistent handling and performance. Along with the radius rods, the components provide greater clearance, and if upgraded, could offer a smoother and easier ride.

However, plates on the RZR can be prone to bending or breaking, especially under heavy use, such as driving aggressively or carrying heavy loads. When they fail, it can result in poor handling, increased tire wear, and potential damage to other suspension components.

Signs To Watch For

  • Rear suspension misalignment
  • Premature tire wear
  • Clunking or rattling noises from the rear
  • Visible damage to the radius rod plates

Therefore, it's essential to pay attention to these parts and, if necessary, upgrade or replace them to safeguard your Polaris RZR’s durability and reliability. Consider upgrading to reinforced aftermarket plates designed to withstand harsher conditions.

6. Front Differentials Problems

The Polaris RZR often faces handling issues due to a weak front differential, which is crucial for distributing power to the front wheels and ensuring optimal traction. This component's weakness can result in poor handling, particularly on challenging terrains like rocky trails, muddy paths, and steep inclines. Drivers may experience reduced control and stability, making it harder to navigate difficult conditions safely.

In severe cases, this flaw can lead to complete differential failure, necessitating costly repairs or replacements and potentially leaving the vehicle inoperable until fixed. Addressing this issue is vital for maintaining the performance and reliability of the Polaris RZR.

Signs To Watch For

  • Difficulty steering
  • Unusual vibrations or noises from the front
  • Poor traction—no engagement at the tires
  • Differential fluid leaks
  • Grinding gears
  • Tire damage

It comes as no surprise that topping off or replacing the differential fluid and inspecting for any signs of damage will extend the life of your vehicle. Upgrading to a more robust front differential can significantly strengthen the system and enhance your UTV’s performance.

Importance of Maintenance and Early Detection

Examining your UTV frequently helps in discovering impairments early to prevent major breakdowns and potential accidents. This includes routine inspections to check for wear and tear on essential components, replacement or cleaning filters, and fluid changes.

Staying proactive can prolong the life span of your Polaris RZR and its integral parts. Just as it assures optimal performance, keeping the rig in top condition for all your adventures. Additionally, investing time in understanding your vehicle's needs will save you money and stress in the long run.

Tips for Maintenance

  • Perform regular visual inspections of critical components
  • Follow the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule
  • Use high-quality aftermarket parts and accessories
  • Keep detailed maintenance records

Ways To Fix These Issues

Addressing these failure points involves continual observation, upgrades, and, sometimes, professional assistance. A maintenance program includes inspections, cleaning, lubrication, and part replacements to ensure everything functions smoothly. Upgrades can range from accessory updates to installing more durable components, which enhance performance and longevity.

In some cases, professional assistance is necessary to diagnose and fix more complex issues which can't be resolved through DIY methods. From high-quality replacement parts to advanced diagnostic tools and performance-enhancing modifications, there are plenty of options to keep your system running at its best. Here are some different strategies and aftermarket accessories available:

Clutch System

  • Regularly inspect and replace worn clutch components
  • Upgrade to a high-performance clutch kit

Air Intake

  • Clean or replace the air filter regularly
  • Install a high-flow aftermarket air filter


  • Inspect for and repair any visible damage
  • Reinforce with frame stiffeners or aftermarket braces


  • Regularly replace transmission fluid
  • Upgrade to a heavy-duty transmission

Radius Rod Plates

  • Inspect for bends or breaks
  • Upgrade to reinforced aftermarket plates

Front Differential

  • Regularly check differential fluid levels
  • Upgrade to a heavy-duty front differential

By following these tips and utilizing proper aftermarket accessories, you can significantly improve the reliability and performance of your Polaris RZR.

Staying motivated and informed about the common failure points of the Polaris RZR allows you to take the necessary steps for addressing them. Early detection through methodical analysis, plus using high-quality aftermarket parts, can make all the difference in protecting the integrity of your vehicle.

Ready to take your Polaris RZR to the next level? Check out DRT Motorsports for a wide selection of high-quality Polaris RZR accessories designed to improve efficiency and longevity. Don’t wait—equip your RZR with the best today!

6 Common RZR Failure Points You Should Know About