Polaris Ranger Differential Lock Problems: 4 Solutions

Functional differential is vital in ATVs as you drive them on uneven roads. If you notice any problem with the differential lock, it needs to be taken care of immediately.

So, what are the common Polaris ranger differential lock problems?

Some common Polaris Ranger differential problems include the differential not engaging or keeps locking up, hearing an unusual noise, and the rear differential not unlocking. The possible solutions to these problems are repairing the switch box, armature plate, or Sprague and setting the parking brake off. 

There are more. Identifying the exact Polaris lock problem is essential before you apply any solution. This article will walk you through this. Keep reading. 

Polaris Ranger Front Differential Problems

Different differential lock problems will show different symptoms. You must identify those symptoms first. The following table will give you a glance at various differential lock problems. 

Differential Not EngagingThe wheel will not spin.Tighten the switch box. Replace the armature plate or Sprague.
Unusual noise Cracking, whining and whirring noise from the wheel while driving.Replace the pinion bearing. 
The rear differential won’t unlock.The rear wheels keep spinning while on turf.Set off the parking brake.
Front Diff Locking UpFront wheels don’t spin while still engaged.After reversing, give the rear wheels some time to gain traction. 

Problem 1: Polaris Ranger Differential Not Engaging


When you try to drive your ATV, you will notice the rear wheels are spinning, but the front wheels are not, which means the front differential is not engaging

And if you notice, the front wheels are spinning, but the rear wheels are not, which means the rear differential is not engaging.


This problem can occur for three reasons. 

  • The differential switch is not appropriately sealed, and the differential is not getting enough voltage. 
  • Broken armature plate
  • Broken Sprague


First, check whether the 4×4 switchboard is sealed correctly or not. If you notice any gaps around the switch box, the switch needs to be appropriately sealed so that the differential gets enough voltage.

Tighten the screws properly to fill up the switch box gaps.

If the switch box is fine, the problem is in either a broken armature plate or a broken Sprague. Here’s how you fix this problem.

  1. First, you must remove the differential from your ATV. 
  2. There will be around 7-8 bolts in the differential, depending on your Polaris Ranger model. Unscrew those and open up the differential cover. 
  3. You will notice the torsion spring retainer and the armature plate under that.
  4. Inspect if the armature plate is damaged or corroded. If it is, you must replace it with another armature plate. If the plate is okay, go to the next step.
  5. After keeping the spring retainer and the armature plate aside, you will notice the torsion spring wrapped around a stud. Take note of how it’s wrapped. Because you have to reassemble it in the same way. 
  6. After removing the spring, take out the output hub. And then, you will find the Sprague carrier. It must be cracked, corroded, or worn out. 
  7. Gently lift the Sprague and set it aside. The springs and rollers here are not attached and will scatter around. So, try to get a hold of them carefully and take out all the rollers from the differential. 
  8. After that, get a new set of Sprague carriers and set it down carefully. 
  9. Now, reassemble everything in order.

That’s the whole process. Give your differential a check, and it should be engaged properly. 

Problem 2: Polaris Ranger Front Differential Noise


You will hear whining, humming, howling, or whirring noises from the front differential. 


The reason behind this noise is a worn-out or broken pinion bearing in the differential. The noise can come from the wheel bearing as well. To identify the exact noise source, you have to –

  1. Steer the front wheel right and left.
  2. Notice the intensity of the noise. If it keeps changing, that means the problem is in the wheel bearing. You have to replace that. If the intensity doesn’t change, the problem is in the differential bearing. 


You need to change the differential pinion bearing. Consult your dealer for the replacement. 

Problem 3: Rear Differential Won’t Unlock


When you take the ATV in turf mode, both back tires spin.


Rear differential needs a pulsed or electrical signal to unlock. It can’t get the signal while you keep the parking brake or emergency brake set.


Check whether the parking brake is set on. If it is, disengage it by pushing the lever down. 

Problem 4: Polaris Ranger Front Diff Locking Up


You notice the rear wheels of your ATV are trying to run at a reasonable speed, but the front wheels seem to be locking up even after they are engaged.


This happens when you drive your ATV in reverse on a slippery road, and the rear wheel slips. If you don’t give the rear wheels enough time to recover and pull the ATV forward, the front wheels will get locked.


When you are driving on a slippery and muddy road, after reversing, give some time before pulling forward so that the rear wheels get some time and they don’t try to run faster than the front wheels. 


How Do I Disable Diff Lock?

You will find a control lever or differential in the wheel. There are lock and unlock signs. Flip the lever to the “unlock” position. Temporarily let go of the accelerator pedal to release torque, and the slide clutch will disengage.

When Should I Lock My Differential?

You must keep your differential locked when driving your ATV on unfavorable terrain, including muddy or snowy roads, gravel, etc. Your ATV doesn’t need extra friction in these kinds of terrain. 

When Should I Unlock My Differential?

You have to unlock your differential in slippery or smooth terrain. On these roads, Your ATV needs extra friction. An engaged differential will provide this additional friction. 


Here goes all the common Polaris ranger differential lock problems. This article should help you with everything you need. But if you are still confused with the differential, consult your ATV dealer.

That’s all for now. Best of luck with your ATV, and have a great day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *