The Polaris Ranger models are known for their superior engine power and impressive recreational ability, making them some of the best UTVs for the money across the industry.
Even some of the oldest models, such as the Ranger XP 700, are known for their quality and versatility.
The Polaris Ranger XP 900 is one of the most popular present-day models, and has been going on ten years now.
But even as one of the best models in the line, the Ranger XP 900 suffers from six common problems, including:
- Gears Grinding
- Clutch Problems
- Clunking From Faulty U-Joints
- Knocking Noise Due To Chain Tensioner
- Excessive Heat in Cab and Under Seats
- Engine Overheating
This guide will explore each in detail, along with likely causes and proven fixes.
One of the most common Polaris Ranger XP 900 shifting problems occurs in the form of the gears grinding when putting the vehicle into gear from a stopped position.
While this does occur when shifting to Forward, it is more common when shifting to Reverse.
Though common, this grinding of gears is not normal and may cause damage to the Ranger’s drivetrain over time.
Cause & Fixes
This grinding is most likely due to the shift cable needing an adjustment. Locate the shift cable and inspect the front nut that holds it in place to ensure it is tightened.
If this nut is loose, tighten it. If it seems tight already, tighten it even more by another turn or two to see if a slight adjustment will eliminate the grinding issue.
If adjusting the cable does not work, you may want to consider adding a gated shifter to your machine, which has put an end to this grinding for a number of owners.
For a more temporary solution before you can attempt either of the fixes above, jiggle the gear shift when changing gears while simultaneously giving the machine just a little gas.
This should help eliminate the grinding.
The Polaris Ranger clutch problem has been around for some time, with Ranger XP 900 models suffering from it along with the rest of the line.
One of the main symptoms is trouble shifting gears, with a number of owners reporting the gear shift requiring quite a bit of force when making a gear change.
This is inconvenient, but has also led to a number of drivers snapping the gear shift from continually applying so much force to it.
Causes & Fixes
If experiencing difficulty moving the gear shift among gears, you can be pretty certain there is an issue with the secondary clutch.
The secondary clutch will need to be properly shimmed, either by a mechanic or the owner themselves.
Once shimmed, the gears should shift easily as intended. This will also help to ensure your Ranger can reach its top speed.
Clunking from Faulty U-Joints
Many Ranger XP 900 owners have reported hearing a loud clunking or rattling noise emulating from the underside of their UTV when driving, especially at low speeds.
This clunking and rattling is usually a sign that the prop shaft U-Joints have gone bad and loosened.
Causes & Fixes
These stock Polaris U-Joints are known for being prone to failure after a certain amount of miles and causing this issue.
Exasperating this is the fact that these stock U-Joints have no zerk fittings that make them greasable, which tends to shorten their lifespan and make them noisier.
While Polaris has recognized this issue and attempted to fix it by doing away with U-Joints in favor of CV Joints on newer models, those with models dated before 2020 will need to replace both the front and back U-Joints to alleviate this clunking or rattling.
Owners can have the dealer do this or tackle the project themselves as it is not that complicated with the right tools.
When replacing these U-Joints, it is important to ensure they are greasable and have zerk fittings.
Many auto parts chains, such as Napa and TRW, sell units that will work. Spicer U-Joints also work well and can be ordered online.
Knocking Noise Due To Chain Tensioner
Clunking and rattling are not the only alarming noises common with the Ranger XP 900.
Upon firing up their UTV, owners may experience a loud knocking noise that persists for about five seconds before subsiding.
Causes & Fixes
This knocking noise originates from the cam chain tensioner, which serves to ensure the correct and necessary tension of the vehicle’s timing chain.
The cam chain tensioner is hydraulic and takes a few seconds to pump up initially, which is where the knocking noise comes from.
While this is completely normal, many owners have chosen to replace this hydraulic tensioner with a mechanical tensioner, such as the Tusk Tensioner, which eliminates this knocking noise.
Excessive Heat in Cab and Under Seats
Excessive heat is another of the most common complaints with the Polaris Ranger XP 900.
The radiator tends to blow hot air in the cab area, and the engine contributes by warming the underside and back of the seats to an uncomfortable temperature.
This heat will be amplified by the addition of side doors and/or a full windshield, and can make riding pretty unbearable during the hottest days of the summer months.
The good news is there are some workarounds.
Under Seat Fans
Purchasing a small automotive fan and installing it under the seats will help to reduce the heat in the cab, and makes for an easy and inexpensive fix.
Grabbing a heat shield and installing it under and behind the seats is the most effective way to beat the heat in the cab of the Polaris XP 900.
This should cut down on the problem by around 75%, which makes a huge difference.
You can also use automotive heat insulation and install it around the inside of the plastic areas within the cab to help.
Even something like roofing rubber or a windshield sun deflector can be used as cheap options for a heat shield.
Remove Doors/Adjust Windshield
If you have side doors installed, taking them off for the winter months will help greatly to reduce the heat in the cab.
This isn’t ideal, but will increase the airflow enough to make a big difference, so it may be worth it.
And if you’ve got a windshield installed, riding with it on a setting where it’s either cracked or fully open will help with the air circulation as well.
Polaris engines are as solid as they come, but they do have some drawbacks.
This overheating happens for a variety of reasons, including:
- Faulty Radiator Cap
- Clogged Radiator
- Temperature Sensor
- Air Blockage in Coolant System
- Blown Head Gasket
Faulty Radiator Cap
The stock radiator caps on the Ranger XP 900 have a tendency to fail over time.
If your radiator cap fails, your UTV may leak coolant and you’ll find yourself needing to replace it often.
Many owners who have experienced a sudden loss of coolant have determined the radiator cap to be the culprit.
Simply replacing the radiator cap should be enough to fix this. These will run you around $10 and can be picked up at many auto parts stores.
The Rangers are made for off-road riding, and as such your radiator can get clogged with grass, mud, sand and other debris over time, which contributes to overheating.
You need to be cleaning your radiator fins frequently, especially after a muddy ride.
If your radiator is really gunked up, remove the grill and soak it in all purpose cleaner like Simple Green. Once soaked, spray out any remaining debris with a hose and reinstall it.
The Ranger XP 900’s engine is factory-set within the ECU so that the fan switch doesn’t trigger until the engine reaches temps of around 210 to 220 degrees.
In warmer climates or at higher elevations, this becomes a problem as the fan doesn’t come on in time to cool the engine enough to keep it in that range, leading to it climbing to between 230 and 250 degrees and overheating.
The best fix for this is to have your ECU tuned, with most tunes reprogramming the temperature at which the fan triggers down to the 190 degrees range, which should eliminate this issue.
You can also install a toggle switch and wire it to your temperature sensor or fan switch, giving you the ability to turn on the fan whenever needed.
Airlock In Coolant System
If your engine overheats or gets close, you’re at risk of an air bubble forming in your coolant system.
When this happens, the air bubble will work its way to the water pump and prevent it from properly pumping coolant.
The result of this is your engine overheating due to airlock.
When you get air in your coolant system, you’ll need to bleed it out or your engine will continue to overheat until you do.
Blown Head Gasket
Another symptom of your engine overheating is your head gaskets being at risk of blowing any time it happens.
A blown head gasket will lead to more overheating, which can be a maddening cycle.
If you’re in the process of bleeding the air from your coolant system and the bubbling won’t stop from the coolant reservoir, you can be pretty a head gasket is blown.
You can also use a head gasket test kit to confirm this. Obviously, a blown head gasket will need to be replaced.
Though the Polaris Ranger XP 900 is one of the most popular UTV models on the market, it’s important not to overlook a few drawbacks that exist with this machine.
Fortunately, most of the common Polaris Ranger XP 900 problems can be overcome with some simple modifications or light mechanical repairs.
For a look at the next great Ranger model, check out this overview of the new Polaris Ranger 1500 before you go.