2008 Polaris RZR 800 Problems: Common Issues and Fixes for a Smooth Off-Roading Experience

The 2008 Polaris RZR 800 remains one of the most coveted sport UTVs even over a decade after its release. This revolutionary side-by-side combined a powerful twin-cylinder engine, long travel suspension, and race-inspired handling that made it an immediate hit. However, the RZR 800’s high performance comes at a price – more stress on components that require diligent maintenance and repair. This article will provide an in-depth guide to keeping your aging RZR running in its prime.

While the 2008 RZR 800 proved impressively reliable even under extreme use, critical wear items do require vigilant preventative care. We’ll outline the most common problems experienced by owners along with tips to catch issues early. Waiting too long for repairs can quickly snowball into major engine or driveline damage. Stay ahead of problems before they strand you on the trail.

Whether you currently own a 2008 RZR 800 or are considering purchasing one used, this guide will help you get the most enjoyment from your machine. We’ll cover how to identify problems, make critical repairs, and properly maintain key systems to minimize headaches. With the right knowledge and diligent care, your RZR 800 can continue to deliver smile-inducing performance for years to come. Read on to keep your off-road icon running strong!

Overview of the 2008 Polaris RZR 800

When the 2008 Polaris RZR 800 first hit the market, it amazed off-roaders with its combination of power, suspension, agility, and trail-conquering capability. The RZR 800 featured a stout 760cc twin cylinder engine pumping out 60 HP, fed through an automatic PVT transmission powering all four wheels via true on-demand all-wheel-drive. Its lightweight chassis and tuned suspension allowed it to adeptly handle rough terrain at high speeds.

Here’s a more detailed look at some of the key features that made the 2008 RZR 800 so revolutionary when it was first introduced:

  • Powerplant – The 760cc twin cylinder engine produced 60 HP, which was extremely impressive for a sport UTV at the time. This liquid-cooled powerplant had four valves per cylinder and electronic fuel injection. The engine was optimized to deliver potent low-end torque critical for off-road performance.
  • Drivetrain – The engine fed into Polaris’ PVT belt-driven transmission that provided automatic shifting and all-wheel engine braking. The true on-demand AWD could divert power front to rear as needed for maximum traction.
  • Suspension & Frame – A nimble tubular steel frame coupled with double A-arm front suspension and dual A-arms in rear allowed up to 9 inches of wheel travel. The suspension soaked up rough terrain at high speeds while providing sporty handling.
  • Ergonomics – The RZR 800 featured side-by-side bucket seating for a driver and passenger. The cockpit design provided excellent visibility and comfort. Fast access to maintenance items also simplified servicing procedures.
  • Capability – 13 inches of ground clearance, 2500 lb towing capacity, and 600 lb box capacity made the RZR 800 highly capable at off-road work and recreation right from the factory.

When it debuted, the 2008 RZR 800 delivered performance and capabilities that far surpassed previous side-by-sides. Its shapely bodywork and aggressive stance also gave it head-turning looks to match its impressive dynamics. For several years, the RZR 800 set the benchmark for power and nimble handling in the sport UTV segment.

Of course, being an early model year vehicle, it wasn’t without a few flaws. But the issues that arose were relatively minor considering the complexity of the machine and how hard it was pushed by performance-hungry owners. Maintaining and repairing an aging RZR 800 properly will keep it running strong for years past its factory lifespan.

Common Problems with the 2008 Polaris RZR 800

The 2008 Polaris RZR 800 was built to withstand serious off-road abuse right from the factory. Overall, it has proven to be a tough and reliable machine when properly maintained. However, the RZR 800 is not immune to typical wear and tear over time, especially considering how hard it gets driven by recreational and competitive riders.

Based on owner experiences, there are a handful of areas that require careful inspection and maintenance to avoid problems. Catching issues early and making repairs quickly will keep your 2008 RZR 800 running optimally season after season.

Here are the most common problem areas reported on the 2008 RZR 800:

Frequent Air Filter Clogging

One very common problem on the RZR 800 stems from its high-performance engine – the air filter gets dirty quickly and needs frequent cleaning or replacement. While fast throttle response and power is great on the trails, it comes at the price of sending large volumes of dust and debris into the air intake. A clogged air filter will cause poor engine performance, hesitation, and lack of power. Staying on top of cleaning or changing the filter is critical.

  • Symptoms of a dirty air filter include lack of power, surging/hesitation under acceleration, reduced throttle response, engine misfire, and possibly stalling. Checking and changing the air filter every 50 hours or more often if riding in extremely dusty conditions is recommended. Make sure to use an OEM spec filter to maintain proper airflow.

Power Loss Issues

Lack of power, misfires, hesitation on acceleration, and surging are also common with the RZR 800. These types of issues typically point to underlying problems in the fuel delivery system, ignition components, sensors, or valve train:

  • Fuel-related causes can include clogged fuel injectors, contaminated/bad fuel, or failing fuel pump. The ignition system can suffer from fouled spark plugs, bad plug wires, or faulty ignition coils. Various sensors related to fueling and timing may also cause power issues if malfunctioning. Finally, worn valve guides, seats, and seals can create compression issues leading to power loss.
  • Proper maintenance includes regularly inspecting and replacing spark plugs, cleaning fuel injectors, using high-quality gas, and checking for intake leaks. Diagnosing engine codes can help identify faulty sensors or components to repair. A compression and leak-down test can reveal worn valve train issues.

Rear Differential Leaks and Noise

The RZR 800 rear diff sees a lot of stress from hard launches, sharp turning, and landing jumps. Over time, the diff fluid can break down, bearings and gears wear, and seals start leaking. A noisy rear diff with play in the wheels or fluid leaks indicates potentially serious issues.

  • Clunking noises during slow maneuvers point to worn bearings. Growling or whining at speed hints at ring/pinion damage. Rear diff oil leaking out around the axles or housing indicates seal failure. Lack of proper lubrication accelerates component wear.
  • Fixing diff issues may involve replacing worn bearings, gears, and seals. Thoroughly flushing contaminated oil and refilling with factory spec lubricant is critical. In severe cases, a full differential rebuild or replacement may be necessary.

Additional Problem Areas

Some other common issues reported on 2008 RZR 800 units include:

  • Shifting problems – The shifter bushings often wear out, causing excess play and loose feel. Replacing the worn shifter bushings restores solid shift feel.
  • Steering issues – Loose tie rod ends or ball joints result in wandering steering and front end instability. Periodic inspection and replacement of any worn components prevents dangerous failures.
  • Engine leaks – The valve covers, oil pan, and oil lines tend to leak as the gaskets and seals age. Resealing leaky areas is key to avoid oil starvation.
  • Overheating – Clogged radiators, stuck thermostats, and weeping water pumps can lead to elevated engine temps. Cooling system maintenance is essential for these hard-working machines.
  • Electrical faults – Corroded connections, broken wires, and burned-out bulbs/fuses can cause various electrical issues. Tracing and repairing faults quickly avoids being stranded on the trails.

While the RZR 800 is well-designed overall, it will succumb to age and wear over time like any machine. Staying informed on the most common problem areas allows you to proactively maintain your RZR and make repairs as soon as issues arise. Quick action minimizes costly damage and downtime.

Preventative Maintenance

Given the hard use and abuse that most RZR 800s endure, diligent preventative maintenance is absolutely crucial for longevity and reliability. Following the prescribed maintenance schedule outlined in the owner’s manual should be considered mandatory, not optional. You can avoid many problems through proper care and diligent inspection of wear items.

Here are the key preventative maintenance tasks recommended for the 2008 Polaris RZR 800:

  • Regular Oil Changes – Change the engine oil and oil filter at least every 100 hours, or more frequently for severe use. Break-in oil changes should be done at 20 and 40 hours. High-quality synthetic oil matched to the proper viscosity and service rating is highly recommended.
  • Air Filter Replacement – The air filter is absolutely critical on the RZR 800 engine for proper airflow and protection from contaminants. Check it before every ride and clean often. Replace it every 50 hours, or more frequently if riding in extremely dusty or wet conditions.
  • Front/Rear Diff Fluid Changes – The front and rear differentials take a beating on rough trails. Fluid should be changed every 100-150 hours. Check levels often and top off if needed between changes. Watch for leaks indicating seal damage.
  • Spark Plug Inspection – Spark plugs gradually wear down from heat/deposits and may fail over time. Inspect them periodically and replace as specified in the owner’s manual, generally every 200 hours or so. Use proper heat range OEM plugs.
  • Valve Clearance Checks – The RZR 800 valve train requires periodic adjustment as components wear. Have valve lash checked and adjusted at the recommended intervals to avoid serious engine damage.
  • Shifter Bushing Replacement – Worn shifter bushings are common on older RZRs. Replace them if excessive shift slop develops to prevent exacerbating transmission wear.
  • Suspension Inspection – Ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, shocks, and other suspension components wear over time. Visually inspect for play or leaks and replace components showing deterioration.
  • Fluid Flushes – Fresh coolant, brake fluid, PVT belt oil, and clutch fluids keep critical systems functioning properly. Flush/refill fluids as specified.

Following prescribed maintenance intervals religiously, using quality lubricants, and replacing worn parts promptly will add many trouble-free miles to your 2008 RZR 800. Pair preventative care with diligent inspection and timely repairs when issues do arise. Your efforts will be rewarded with optimum performance and minimal downtime.


What are the most common problems with the 2008 Polaris RZR 800?

As discussed above, typical issues involve the air filter, power loss, rear differential, valves, and shifter. Regular maintenance and prompt repair is key.

How do I fix a misfire in my 2008 Polaris RZR 800?

Misfires are often caused by bad spark plugs, faulty fuel injectors, worn valves, or ignition components. Check engine codes, inspect spark plugs, clean fuel injectors, and test ignition coils/wires. Replacing worn parts can help fix misfires.

How do I check engine codes on my 2008 Polaris RZR 800?

You can check engine codes by shorting two diagnostic pins on the ECU wiring harness. The flashing trouble code LED sequence can then be referenced in the service manual.

How often should I change the air filter on my 2008 Polaris RZR 800?

Replace the air filter every 50 hours or more frequently if riding in very dusty/muddy conditions. Check it often and clean or replace sooner if it appears clogged.

How do I prevent power problems in my 2008 Polaris RZR 800?

Use premium fuel, change oil/filter and plugs regularly, clean the fuel system, check sensor function, and inspect the valve train. Quality fuel and proper maintenance helps avoid power issues.

How do I fix rear differential problems in my 2008 Polaris RZR 800?

Clunking or leaking differentials usually need to be repaired or rebuilt. Typical fixes involve replacing worn bearings, gears, and seals or addressing lubrication issues.


In conclusion, the 2008 Polaris RZR 800, renowned for its robust performance and off-road capabilities, does have its share of common issues that owners should be mindful of. These include air filter problems, power-related issues, and rear differential concerns, among others. However, with proper preventative maintenance, many of these issues can be avoided or promptly addressed. Regularly changing the air filter, following recommended maintenance intervals for engine oil, spark plugs, and differential fluid, as well as inspecting and adjusting valve clearance when needed, can go a long way in preventing problems. For those encountering misfires or rear differential issues, it’s crucial to diagnose the specific problem and take appropriate measures, such as replacing worn components or addressing lubrication concerns. Overall, adhering to the maintenance schedule and addressing issues proactively can help RZR 800 owners enjoy their off-roading adventures with confidence and minimal disruptions.

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