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5 Symptoms of a Bad Polaris Ranger Clutch

5 Symptoms of a Bad Polaris Ranger Clutch

Over time, the parts of a vehicle start to get worn and old and stop functioning correctly, including the clutch of a UTV. A clutch transmits torque from the motor to the transmission, so it is an essential part of a UTV, and you’ll notice some signs if the clutch goes bad. 

Symptoms of a bad Polaris Ranger clutch include a bad smell, a jerky clutch lever, and trouble accelerating, especially while going up hills. If you notice these symptoms, you’ll need to replace the clutch with a new one. 

In this article, I’ll outline some of the most common signs that you have a bad clutch on your Polaris Ranger. I’ll also describe how to install a new clutch so you can rectify the issue. Let’s get to it! 

1. You’ve Had the Same Clutch for a Long Time

This first point isn’t necessarily a symptom of a bad clutch, but it is important to know nonetheless. Primary clutches don’t last as long as the vehicles themselves, and over time, the part will wear down, and you’ll need to replace it. If you keep the original equipment manufacturer’s clutch, you’ll need to replace it after 1,000-2,000 miles (1609.34 – 3218.68 km).

However, the longevity of your clutch depends on how you drive your Polaris Ranger and how you take care of your clutch. If you’re hard on your UTV and frequently drive in rough terrain, climb hills, drive the vehicle through mud, or if you “ride the clutch,” your clutch won’t last as long (source). 

You should also regularly clean your clutch to extend its life. To do this, remove the clutch cover and blow compressed air on the clutch to eliminate the dust (source).

Other ways to extend the life of your clutch include: 

  • Avoid “riding the clutch” while driving.
  • Don’t keep the clutch engaged for too long.
  • Avoid treating the clutch as if it were a footrest.
  • Inspect your clutch regularly for signs of damage or wear. 
  • Avoid stopping or parking on an incline. 
  • Try to come to slow and steady stops instead of abrupt stops. 
  • Only use the clutch when you need to. 

Even if you follow the above tips, the clutch will eventually go bad, so it’s important to know the symptoms of a failing clutch. 

If you’ve had the same clutch in your vehicle for a long time, or if you’ve driven the vehicle frequently and for long distances, chances are your clutch is getting worn down, and you’ll need to replace it.  

2. There’s a Bad Smell Coming From the Engine

If you’re out driving your Polaris Ranger and suddenly notice an unpleasant burning smell that seems to come from the engine, one cause is that your clutch isn’t working properly. A bad clutch doesn’t properly transmit torque from the engine to the transmission, which stresses the engine and can cause a burning odor. 

However, there are many other potential causes for an unfamiliar odor coming from your UTV, including oil issues or debris stuck on the exhaust. 

3. The Clutch Lever Feels Jerky

If your Polaris Ranger clutch is bad, you’ll likely be able to tell because of how the lever feels. The clutch basket, which is the bowl-shaped housing that holds the starter gear, and inner hub get worn down relatively quickly, and when this happens, the clutch lever feels jerky while you’re engaging it. The lever may also become more difficult to pull. 

4. Your ATV Won’t Accelerate Easily or at All

One of the most noticeable signs of a bad clutch is if you’re having difficulty accelerating. If you’re trying to move forward and you can only make the machine go extremely slowly, or if you’re unable to move the vehicle at all, your clutch likely isn’t transmitting torque from the motor. 

Therefore, the clutch won’t engage, and you’ll be unable to move the vehicle with efficiency. 

5. Going Up Hills Is Difficult

Accelerating is always essential, especially when you’re climbing a hill. Your vehicle needs power and energy to ascend a slope, and if your clutch isn’t working the way it should, it won’t have the energy it needs to get up the hill. Therefore, a telltale sign of a bad clutch is if you cannot easily make it up hills in your vehicle.   

How To Install a New Clutch

If you notice the above symptoms, your clutch has almost certainly gone bad. There’s not much you can do to fix a bad clutch, and your best option to get your vehicle back in shape is to remove the old clutch and install a new one. 

Luckily, this is a relatively straightforward process. 

I highly recommend the New Primary Clutch Replacement (link to Amazon) if you need to purchase a new clutch. This clutch has smooth joining, good wear resistance, and sufficient heat dissipation, so it’s unlikely to go bad very soon. It is also compatible with all Polaris Ranger models.  

Follow these steps to remove the old clutch and install a new one: 

  1. Remove the drive clutch retaining bolt using a performance clutch puller. I recommend this Primary Drive Clutch Puller (link to Amazon). This clutch puller removes the primary clutch on nearly all Polaris models. It is constructed of heavy-duty carbon steel heat-treated for better strength, ensuring the tool’s longevity. 
  2. Use a pry bar to remove the old clutch. It will make a popping noise when it comes off. 
  3. Place the new clutch in your Polaris Ranger and torque it to 96-foot pounds (1152 in-lb). 

For a more detailed guide on replacing a bad clutch, I suggest watching this video: 

Polaris ATV/UTV Primary Clutch Removal and Installation | Polaris Ranger |

By following these steps, you can confidently drive your vehicle and solve all the symptoms of a bad Polaris Ranger clutch I discussed above. 

I recommend reading my guide on Polaris RZR pedal problems. You’ll learn how to fix the issues in your Polaris RZR.


The clutch has an important role in starting a vehicle and shifting gears, so if it goes bad, you’ll notice symptoms such as a bad smell, a jerky lever, or difficulty accelerating. You should replace your clutch every 1,000-2,000 miles (1609.34 – 3218.68 km). Replacing a clutch is straightforward as long as you have the proper tools.

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