UTV Steering and Suspension Overhaul
During hunting season this past year we discovered that the Polaris Ranger 800 Crew we use to get into the depths of the property was starting to sound and ride like never before. The steering was becoming very loose, with a slight grinding impingement in certain turns and the suspension squeaked like an entire army of noisy mice were being squeezed by the tails in sequence. So, when the Georgia deer season came to an end, we thought it would be best to dig into the issues before turkey season started as those birds will not put up with it. Finding replacement parts on the web is really simple and buying trusted brands was the goal for a quality repair.
Our Polaris Ranger’s steering had seen better days.
The front bushings on our Ranger were worn and needed to be replaced.
Our machine is a 2014 Polaris Ranger 800 Crew and it has seen better days. Our first task at hand was to find reasonably priced replacement parts as well as a replacement steering system that would last out the remaining life of the rig. Looking through the internet, we found a complete kit of suspension bushings and the small steel pivot spacers from QuadBoss. These kits are sold per side and come with everything you need to accomplish a good rebuild of the suspension arms. Some would simply replace the bushings to save some money, but those bushings will wear out faster than you can blink if the steel spacers are in rough shape as well. QuadBoss offers many replacement parts and we found an entire array of items on our list once we dug into the problems with our Ranger.
The bushing kits are pretty simple to install, but do require you to remove the suspension arms from the frame. Can this be done without removing the wheel hub and axles? It’s possible, but its causes cursing like nothing ever heard before. So basically, the steel tubes or spacers are pushed out one side or the other and then the bushings can be pulled out fairly easily. We typically clean the inside of the suspension arm bushing port with scotch brite and then simply reinstall the new bushings and spacers. This tightens up the suspension and quiets the squeaks as well as the wobbly chassis. It is best to replace them in pairs of left and right, but we decided to do all four corners of the Ranger. You do owe it to yourself to check the wheel bearings as well and “luckily for us” (pun intended) I needed a left rear wheel bearing. That put the Quadboss bearing kit on my list as well. Removing a simple snap ring is all that is necessary to press the bearing out and the new QuadBoss bearing was pressed right back in.
Another item that we had to address once we jacked the Ranger up was the fact that the ball joints on our UTV were also worn completely out. As we jacked the Polaris Ranger up, the front wheels flopped around revealing the worn joints. I could tell this would be at least contributing to the really inconsistent steering. QuadBoss offers replacement ball joints in singles and you need four to get the complete front suspension. Can you replace just one at a time? Sure, but we strongly recommend doing them in pairs.
Getting the ball joints in is a fairly simple task with a small bearing press or hand-held ball joint tool. We tend to save large outer bearing races for just this occasion so we have something to help press the old ball joint out and the new joint right back in. Because the ball joint is held into the steering knuckle with a pinch bolt, we make sure to clean the hole that holds the stem on the ball joint with some scotch brite or a wire brush. This makes the new part slide right in with little trouble. Cautions here would be to NEVER hit the new ball joint on the cap end opposite the shaft, as denting the dome on the end dramatically reduce the flexibility of the ball joint. This could also prematurely reduce the life of the joint. Also, remove the grease boot from the ball joint before installing to ease installation and prevent possible boot damage.
Our final issue was the steering. The stock steering rack from Polaris retails in the range of $500, so we thought since this machine shows “signs” of being abused on the trail, that we’d better go with a heavy-duty replacement. We found that the SuperATV Rack Boss steering assembly seemed to be beefier and at least $200 cheaper than a factory unit, so we called the Madison, Indiana company up and placed our order. At $299 and free shipping, we knew that we could count on these guys to help should any issues creep up after the install.
The steering box install is pretty straightforward. Your steering box has a seal on the top where the splined shaft comes out and this is where most begin to come apart. The seal goes bad and lets in the dirty water and from there the bearings get a lashing. Our steering box had suffered from years of neglect and rebuilding was not an option.
Some features to note on this SuperATV kit is that it is bulkier, and it comes with a complete heim joint set up to replace the traditional tie-rod ends. These heim joint ends are huge and seem really stout, which should give us a firm steer on the trail. The instructions in the kit will show you how to set up the steering box BEFORE installation to insure you have the assembly “zeroed” for a centered steering before putting the tie rods and end on. Our only suggestion is to also center the steering wheel before dropping the steering shaft onto the steering box shaft.
Now that our entire suspension has gotten new bushings, ball joints and a steering box, the Polaris Ranger 800 Crew feels much safer on the trails. The steering is light and firm with no wobble in the wheel. The squeaking is gone, and a solid feeling is returned to the machine.
Buying quality parts from proven companies like QuadBoss and SuperATV is a must when it comes to the safety of your UTV. These UTV’s are all very heavy and can wear parts if used in consistently muddy conditions without love and cleaning. Now we are ready to hunt those Georgia turkeys in silence!
QuadBoss Part Numbers
- Bushing kits: 414650
- Front Bushings only:414267
- Ball Joint: 416593
- Wheel Bearing: 413333
SuperATV.com Rack Boss: HDRP-1-2-002
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More by Rick Sosebee