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RZR Report Card - Passed!

2011 Polaris RZR 4 LE Long Term Review
Written By: 
Wayne Davis

2012.polaris.rzr4-le.blue.front-right.riding.on-dirt.jpgThe RZR 4 is one of the most fun, all-purpose side by side vehicles we have ever driven.  When given the chance to put some miles on it and really see what the RZR 4 LE is capable of, we couldn’t get it on the trail fast enough.  With just over 4000 trouble free miles logged on our 2011 RZR 4 LE, you can bet we had a chance to ride in many different conditions, and it met or exceeded our expectations every time.

The RZR still runs perfectly and operates as smoothly as the day we got it thanks to a well thought out vehicle and Polaris durability.  As with anything mechanical, it does require a regular maintenance schedule to keep you on the trails.  This is what we’ve found with our RZR 4 800 as we’ve put it to the test:

Engine:  After a break-in oil change, we did our next oil change at 600 miles, then every 500 to 1000 miles after that as it calls for in the manual.  You might need to change a little more often if you are constantly riding in dust or somehow end up in deep water, but we always check our oil before every trail ride to make sure it is still clean and full.  That’s super important!  At 4100 miles, it doesn’t burn any oil and appears clean every time it is checked.  Use good oil and keep it clean!  We used Polaris PURE factory oil as recommended in the manual, but we’ve also used MOBIL-1 fully synthetic in the past with excellent results as well. 

Air Filter:  This could possibly be the most important one!!!  Depending on the conditions, this could be cleaned every time you ride.  We often drove the RZR 4 LE without other vehicles around which limited dust, but in total we installed four new air filters and checked it many times between changes.

Suspension:  We were sure to grease all fittings on a regular basis.  Usually every couple hundred miles we would give each grease fitting a couple pumps with the grease gun.  Use a high quality, lithium based grease.  We also used some good penetrating oil on the shock bushings to keep from squeaking and prevent wear.  

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Drivetrain:  At 2600 miles we decided to inspect the drive belt.  We weren’t even having a hint of a problem, but we wanted to see what it looked like.  The belt had very little wear and would have lasted for many more miles, but since we already had the cover off and a new belt handy, we decided to change it.  Both clutches showed no wear but we made sure to blow the dust out thoroughly with compressed air, and to check for any other signs of wear.  No problems!

New CV Boots:  We installed a new CV boot on the right side.  The plastic guards on the front drive shafts will bend, allowing them to rub on the boots.   When that happens, your boot will be history, which is what happened to us.  There are many different aftermarket guards available that could help prevent that problem from happening, but we didn’t have one installed when we had our little problem.  

New Muffler Hang Sleeve:  Polaris likes to hang the muffler on a couple rods that are inserted through a rubber grommet in the frame.  This allows for easy alignment during installation and prevents vibration from causing cracks in the metal, but we’ve noticed on a couple RZR’s that the grommet works its way out of the hole.  When that happens the muffler moves a little too freely, and in a short while the cone shaped, composite metal flange seal between the muffler and the exhaust system will crumble.  Then it gets loud.  Our solution to the grommets that wanted to walk out of the holes was to install a rubber hose over the rod welded to the muffler itself.  We slid a piece of 3/8” high temp hose over the muffler mount rods and had no problem.  Use a high temp hose if possible, but we know thick 3/8” fuel line works also.    The new hose is thick enough to prevent vibration and metal to metal contact, and the muffler hangs exactly where it is supposed to. 

Grease Front Drive Shaft Bearing:  Some bearing suppliers are stingy with the grease they install with new bearings.  The front drive shaft carrier bearing on the RZR4 is a sealed bearing with no way to grease it, but unfortunately it began to squeak a little.  We could feel no play in the bearing when we tried to wiggle it; it was just dry.  A grease needle is made to slip under the lip of a seal and shoot grease into bearings, which is exactly what we did.  Problem solved and the bearing is still working perfectly.

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Stop Suspension Leaks:  Like a lot of off-road vehicles, eventually the rubber shock bushings started to squeak.  On the RZR4, it was the lower shock bushings where they attach to the A-arm.  All the A-arm pivots had grease fittings which we regularly freshened up with new grease, but the only way to make the shock bushing stop squeaking was to douse it in a good penetrating oil or WD-40.  We sprayed oil onto both the upper and lower shock bushings, and eventually it worked its way into the crevices and the annoying squeaks went away.

Conditions of Use

Our 2011 RZR4 800 was used for ordinary trail riding, in sand, mud, and snow.  Typical operation was at varied RPM ranges, and riders ranged from intermediate to expert, both male and female.   

OIL USED POLARIS spec 

OIL FILTER Stock Polaris, then K & N with nut welded on end

AIR FILTER USED Stock Polaris – pleated 

Engine & Drivetrain

VALVE / HEAD No appreciable or noticeable loss of power, compression, or valve noise

COOLING SYSTEM   No leaks.  Maintains coolant level

SHAFT DRIVE   No joint failures or excessive backlash 

CVT CLUTCHES & BELT   Minimal belt wear, but we changed belt once anyway.  Clutch still operating smoothly

4WD SYSTEM   No failures in 4wd system to front end

REAR DIFFERENTIAL Maintaining recommended oil level with no leaks

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EFI MAPPING Excellent starts at all temperatures, no backfire, no hesitation under acceleration.

ENGINE NOISE No noticeable increase in engine noise

EXHAUST Exhaust system flange seal failed due to muffler misalignment.  This was caused by mounting grommet failure.  No cracks in muffler or exhaust pipes, and only normal discoloration.  Negligible corrosion.  Sound level slightly higher than new. 

BATTERY Battery still holding charge and cranking cold engine quickly. 

SHIFTING Gear changes generally easy

Bodywork & Controls

CONTROL LAYOUT Good Control layout

INSTRUMENTATION Very good.  Easy to read and use but would be even better if numbers were a little larger.

LEVERS / THROTTLE / SWITCHES / SHIFTER High Quality controls.  4wd button easy to use.  Shift lever has positive engagement.

SEAT COVER & SEAT FOAM Seat has smooth surface and shows no signs of wear.  Foam is thick enough to provide support and comfort, and has not broken down or taken on moisture.

BODYWORK Excellent, high quality plastic is pliable and durable.  Resists scratches and can take an impact.  Shows no signs of wear, discoloration, or fading.

SPLASH PROTECTION Good protection from both front and rear fenders.  2012.polaris.rzr-4-le.muffler-hanger.close-up.jpg

LIGHTS Good illumination and spread from both front lights which point to where vehicle is headed, but not necessarily into turns. 

Maintenance 

OIL FILTER Good access.  Standard Polaris filter works well, but K & N is much easier to install and remove thanks to welded on nut.

AIR FILTER   Excellent access, easy to remove.  Large surface area for long service life.   

COOLANT RESERVOIR Good access.  Easy to check coolant level.

CVT & CVT COVER Can be difficult to access and remove

ELECTRICAL Excellent access to battery under seat

Suspension

SHOCKS Good for most trail riding and aggressive riding.  Will resist bottoming but it is possible.  Good adjustment capability.  Body roll not significant.  Shocks will begin to fade and require service depending on use, terrain, and load, but are rebuildable.  

A-ARMS Good durability both on A-Arms and low maintenance pivot bushings.  Pivots can be greased.

STEERING Very good in standard model.  Excellent and smooth with Electronic Power Steering.  Calibration of EPS excellent at all speeds.  Large turning radius due to long wheelbase.  

TIRES Respond well in mud, sand, and snow with good traction.  Also clean out well in mud.  Tires will show cuts, but resist punctures in most cases.   

WHEELS Cast aluminum.  Light weight, tough, and no leaks around bead unless bead is damaged by impacts with rocks.

LUG NUTS Threads can be stripped easily.  2012.polaris.rzr4-le.blue.front-left.parked.on-dirt.jpg

BRAKES Adequate at both ends, but not overly aggressive. 

Chassis

FRAME Frame does flex but also holds up. 

FASTENERS High quality, but plastic push-pin fasteners will become loose after a few in/out cycles.

PAINT & PLATING Good corrosion protection on frame thanks to powder coat.  Zinc plating on all fasteners and some steel parts

TOWING Standard hitch at rear.

STORAGE         Limited cargo deck, but works adequately for hauling a cooler, camping gear, extra tires, etc.  Dash box with cover works well.  Front hood compartment works well and is covered.

Passing Grades

The overall performance of the RZR 4 800 has been great.  It handles like a slot car at any speed, thanks to the factory equipped, FOX reservoir shocks and power steering.  We have only made minor suspension adjustments and were surprised to see that there are very little limitations to the four seater.  Turning around in extremely tight trails could be a problem, though, but on very narrow trails, there are few Side x Sides that can make it anyway.  We also really appreciate the rear engine design which creates less heat and a quieter ride, allowing you to have a conversation between riders. Overall engine performance and reliability was very good.  It runs smoothly, and we even averaged about 20mpg on fuel.  The Polaris RZR 4 800 would make a great vehicle for getting you and three of your friends down the trail and back without any worries.  It easily passed our long term test!

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