Common Lift Kit Axle Issues on Your UTV: How to Fix Them

When riding off-road, your ATVs axles are bashed around and undergo high forces. They are the main link between getting power from the engine to the road and therefore can be subject to many failures.

With torque overloading, overheating, binding and many more issues, we cover what each one is and how to fix them on your ATV.

lift kit for utv riding.jpg
Photo credit: Derek Gardner

Small Lift Kit Issues

With a less than four-inch lift on your ATV, the problems are different to those on higher lifts. Here are the common axle issues associated with small lift kits:

Axle Binding

Binding of the axles is where the CV joint bends too much. Its where the bearings and cage lock up internally, meaning they are unable to move freely. If any more force is exerted on the axle here, your CV joint will explode internally.

The axle may not bind when driving on level ground, it could when you drive over rough terrain causing suspension to drop briefly, which is not good.

How to prevent Axle Binding

When you upgrade your ATV ride height make sure to check for axle binding. Do this by lifting your ATV into the air and let your suspension drop. Rotate each wheel by hand and check if they spin freely. If you need to lift the suspension to make the wheel turn then simply do not drive on it, your axles are in a bind state.

Overheating CVs

If your axles do not bind, the harsh angles your axles are subjected to when lifting causes excess work and heat for your CV joint. The grease will not work optimally and break down, causing it to be more like water. This reduces the lifetime of the CV, and they will need replacing much quicker.

How to Prevent CV Overheating

Upgrading to aftermarket axles (of stock length) that can cope with higher operating angles will reduce CV overheating. They are heavy duty and specifically designed for harsh angles because of lifting your ATV. Axle brands such as Rhino are great for improved performance.

Big Lift Kit Issues

With over five inches of lift, extended axles are common upgrades that form part of the lift kit already. Which means harsh angles are already covered, but other problems arise.

Overloading Torque

Tires are also a common upgrade when lifting your ATV to complete the look. However, tire upgrades add extra weight and cause axles to snap if you encounter some deep mud spots and try to get out.

Overcoming High Torque Issues

It’s always good advice to drive carefully when off-roading with big lift kits. If your wheels are stuck, power isn’t the best option.

Hard Steering

Without a steering stop kit that commonly comes with a big lift kit, you are in danger of breaking your axles on your ATV. The extra stress when fully locked steering is used with your gas pedal when getting out of trouble causes binding too.

Overcoming Hard Steering Issues

Using a steering stop kit will go a long way in reducing the load on your axles and preventing them from breaking. It’s always advised never to use full power and full steering lock when maneuvering out of a deep trench.


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