Spring is upon us, and for those who live in places with capricious weather conditions, side-by-side season is fast approaching. Regardless if you rode through the winter or hibernated your Polaris RZR in the warmth of your garage, ensuring that your rig is tuned up and ride-ready is a must for all UTV owners. So bust out the pressure washers, get your grease gun, and blow the cobwebs off your side-by-side tool kit, because it’s time to giddy-up and get your a$$ on the trail.
Getting Your Rig Lookin Good
Although you should have properly washed your machine before covering it for winter, a nice spring cleaning never hurts. But leave the garden hose, sponges, and buckets of soap for the cheerleading squad’s car wash fundraiser. If you want to clean like a boss — thoroughly and efficiently — a pressure washer setup is the way to go. Gas washers are great, but those electric units are super easy to plug in and use. Whichever one you have, though, make sure to get the 1/4 turn nozzle setup so you can run a foam cannon. We’ve heard nothing but good things about the Husqvarna 3300 PSI gas washer with the foam cannon, and Home Depot sells a Ryobi with a Honda engine that is great as well. The trick with these, however, is to turn it down to half throttle for more foam. Full blast over powers it way to much, and can actually damage your machine’s delicate areas such as the CV boots and electrical system. Regarding the latter, mainly steer clear of the area up against the back of the seat where the controller and voltage regulator is and not the entire fender well.
General best practice is to start by spraying your machine off completely, and then hit it with the foam cannon. Let that sit for ten minutes and then rinse it off, starting at the top and working down to the bottom. The only issue you might encounter is that, unless you leave your water on all the time, your pressure washer will usually have air inside at the start, so it might take a minute or two of holding it open before it all get's out and you get water flowing. And don’t let the PSI figures fool you, there’s more to a good washer than the pressure ratings. For example, a 4000 PSI washer at 2.5 GPM (Gallons Per Minute)won’t clean much and it’ll do it slowly. Look for the higher GPM and you’ll be a happy washer.
Checking Your RZR's Fluids
Before you take your RZR out for its first spring ride, checking and changing its fluids is highly advisable. It fact, it is recommend that you stock your shelves with fluids as well as filters, and get good at changing them because you’ll be doing it frequently. Most mechanical failures in UTVs are associated with a lack of lubrication. These units see extreme duty on a regular basis, and thus have very few things in common with an automobile. The three main fluids you should check and change are the engine fluid, front differential fluid, and transmission fluid.
Contrary to popular belief, fluid choice will not void your machine’s warranty — that is as long as the fluids you are using meet the hydrodynamic properties required and are made from the basic additives of Polaris branded fluids. And if you rid mud and wanter, go ahead and completely Ignore the manual change intervals. In many cases, the differential fluid will need to be changed after every ride due to water getting past the seals as they wear. It cost approximately $3 for the fluid to change it out, so this is something you’ll just have to get used to it. Before you take your bike out after a Long winter — and routinely thereafter — check the air filter for contamination. Sand, dirt, and mud getting past the filter will quickly steal your power by reducing compression.
For the trans and front diff fluid, Polaris branded fluids work well, and for the engine, a 15-40 synthetic by Mobile 1 or Rotella T are the best you can buy. Neither, however, are designed to meet Polaris' specific requirements like Amsoil products. If you actually do the technical research, you'll find that Rotella T breaks down faster than Amsoil, and Mobile 1 does not provide as much wear protection as Amsoil. Amsoil also provides warranty coverage if the oil is proven to be at fault during a factory warranty claim. Neither Retella T or Mobile 1 will give you that type of coverage. Using an oil that does not meet the manufacturer's specifications leaves you open for coverage issues.
And if you turn your own wrenches, we’d suggest getting a bottle pump as well. Companies like Rocky Mountain ATV have oil change kits if you want a simple solution, but sourcing the fluids separately is by no means a difficult task. If you’re in a pinch and low on time, your dealer should have everything you need; but at a premium. And here’s a pro tip: make friends with the shop manager. Throw him a little service work here and there and tip with a case of beer. Even if you do your own work, it’s nice to have friends when needed.
Preparing For A Long Trip.
If you’re planning a lengthy ride to break your RZR in for the new season, bringing along a spare tire, a tire plug kit, an air pump, a spare belt, a Qt of engine oil, and JB weld (metal and aluminum) is a good start, but there are a few other items you should pack along to truly be prepared for whatever nature has in store. It is also advised to bring tools to change belt as well as remove the primary and secondary clutch, a spare front and rear axel (if you’re really getting crazy), spare ball joints, spare steering links, spare lug nuts, and tools to tear down to the axel. Make sure to bring a 15mm socket, as this is the size for your main nut on the hubs. 24mm, 13mm, and 7mm deep sockets are also ones not to forget.
A red Scotch Brite pad is useful to clean/scuff your clutch sheaves if you need to replace your belt, and a 20’x30’ tarp makes a good tent and can cover your RZR when not in use. 3” epoxy tape is also a great item to bring along for shovel handles or hammer repair. You just soak it in water, wrap it where it’s needed, and let it sets. This is also a great emergency fix for a-arms and radius rods.
Many riders also like to carry survival supplies on overnight trips. Jerky, trail mix, dried fruit and water work great as emergency rations. If you are going out of cell range, a GPS spot device is a life saver. Unless you’re riding along at competition speeds, it is unlikely you'll need much for spare parts. A flat tire is probably the worst thing you will encounter. Assuming you're not carrying your entire trip’s worth of fuel, it's assumed you either have checkpoint vehicles or planned stops. If so, let them carry all the heavy stuff and keep your RZR as light as possible.
Other than that you should be set and ready to rock. Finally, zip ties and tie wire are good to have around, and you might consider replacing your bicycle pump with a ViAir 12 volt portable air compressor — the 87P model is particularly nice. And for machine’s that are difficult to start, John Deere starting fluid is 80% ether, which should spark up even the peskiest motors.
Our last piece of advice for getting your Polaris RZR ready and tuned up for the spring riding season: quit reading, get out there, and have some fun!