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The factory headlights use a special bulb rated 30 watts for high and low beam. Only one element lights at a time, so they basically just go from flood to spot without getting any brighter. Most headlight bulbs are at least 55 watts for low beam, so these are were pretty dim when new. In addition, the lenses have gotten frosted and yellowed to the point there is no difference between high and low beam. They basically just glow.

There are polishing kits and replacement LED bulbs that might help. Any modern LED will provide 5 to 10 times as much light as older types. I was already planning to add switches to the empty spots on the dash. It makes more sense to leave the existing headlights alone and add a new light bar and some bumper lights.

Four small 18 watt LED cube lights on the bumper can provide 7200 lumens. That is more than 20 times as much light as the original headlights, even if I could make the lenses clear again. Bumper lights are fairly close to the ground and provide good lighting even when there is a lot of mist, fog, or smoke. Many off-road vehicles also have a light bar on the roof. This is the best way to project lots of light a long distance. Most small UTVs probably don't need a light bar on the roof, but they are pretty cool, so of course I had to get one. Mine is a 32" combination spot/flood 180 watt LED fixture. This thing puts out more than 13000 lumens?. Yes, I got carried away. With everything lit-up it is more than 40-times as much as the original headlights. It literally turns night into day.

In addition to headlights, I wanted a cargo light for loading and unloading the cargo box. A small 9 watt LED light bar mounted to the roll bar works great for that. Two small marker lights with red LED bulbs mounted near the roof inside the cab provided just enough overhead light for the interior.

The cargo light should have been sufficient to also provide back-up light. Unfortunately, with the light mounted on the roll bar, the box casts a big shadow behind the vehicle. Additional lights were needed down low to fill those shadows for the back-up camera.


Image of Ranger Original Dash

All those empty spots on the dash just didn't look right to me. Coming up with something useful for that exact number of available holes was an invitation to get carried away, so of course I did. The top row had one blank spot. That switch should be an original type to match the original headlight and AWD switches. The existing switches worked ok, but were showing their age.

Image of Ranger Dash Upgraded

The headlight switch was replaced with a new one. There is a newer version of the AWD switch with more detailed diagrams for each drive mode. Unfortunately the new AWD switch was delayed because changes to the wiring were required. The new switch on the top right is an optional cargo light switch from a 2002 Ranger. The second row of switches are all aftermarket for lights and an override for the radiator cooling fan. A round voltmeter was the right size to fit the extra round hole.

Wiring all those new switches was a royal pain! Each of the backlit switches needs a switched hot to two terminals, two ground wires, and a wire to the switched load that may need to go thru a relay. Some aftermarket light kits come with a wire harness and relays, but none of those are wired so they will go off when the key is turned off. I wanted to use accessory power to run my switches, but have any relays switching large loads fed directly from the battery. Switched accessory, battery power, and ground terminals are conveniently available on the original factory terminal strip under the hood. THANK YOU POLARIS!

New wires to the light bar, front bumper lights, cab light, and a cargo light were run along the roll bars with tie wraps. The cab hides them fairly well. I would have preferred to fish wires thru the roll bars, but the wires would still have to be exposed to loop around all the fittings where the bars are bolted together. It seemed cleaner and was certainly easier to just run them along the bars.

working Ranger
working Ranger
working Ranger
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New wires under the hood were encased in new plastic loom laid next to the original harness. This keeps the new wiring entirely separate from the original harness. This will make it much easier to troubleshoot any problems later. Everything must be securely fastened in place or there will be reliability issues. Look for areas where the original harness may have been damaged. A loose harness may have come in contact with suspension or steering. While checking wiring, I discovered a rear brake hose that had come loose from the clip and was worn part-way thru the jacket! That could have been fun when it eventually broke. Look for things like previous repairs that were not done properly.

Ranger Wiring

I am thoroughly impressed with the electrical system on this Polaris Ranger. The factory engineers made provisions for many things auto manufacturers never do. The wiring is very easy to trouble-shoot and repair. Most everything is routed and secured so damage is unlikely to occur unless there is very severe damage to the vehicle. The terminal strip providing easy access to Battery, Switched Accessory, and Ground is just perfect for most add-ons and has probably saved these vehicles from a lot of wiring hack-jobs.


Image Showing 4 Cube Lights Replaced by 2 Light Bars

The four 9 watt cube lights above the bumper were impossible to keep aimed. All those wire connections were trouble just waiting to happen. The cube lights were replaced with two 9 watt light bars. These look a lot better and still provide a lot more light than the original headlights.

Hulk Lights

Bling Lights: My wish list included adding LED strip lights to the undercarriage. Apparently no golf cart upgrade is complete without them. The LED strips appeared to be very fragile, so I settled on some green LED lensed units that install in any 1/2" hole. Finding places to mount them was easy enough. Wires were strapped to frame rails in the back and run with other wiring. I thought they might stay covered in mud, but they actually stay surprisingly clean.

Back Up Camera

Back Up Camera: Once we get used to a new accessory, it becomes difficult to live without. Back Up cameras have become standard on most cars and it occurred to me that the feature would be very handy on the Polaris. Wireless kits are available, but I opted for a wired version with a fairly large 8" screen. The screen mounted to the overhead roll bar with some pipe insulation and tie wraps. The camera came with a bracket that could be attached to the bumper with some self-tapping screws. Power for the system was connected to turn on with the rear cargo and back up lights.

Image Showing Mud Flaps

We have still been getting more than normal rainfall. Muddy trails equals lots of mud thrown everywhere. A set of NOS mud flap brackets were added and mud flaps were cut from a roll of diamond plate rubber floor mat. Several attempts to fix or mask the burn marks on the old tailgate were not much improvement. Rather than waste more time, the outer tailgate skin was swapped with a used replacement from a 2008 Ranger. The replacement is black, rather than green because that is what I could find at the time.

Image Showing Muddy Side

The mud flaps work great. The next step will be to seal off the front side with panels that will keep mud out of the area under the seat and provide a storage bin on the driver's side that will be accessible by raising the bed.

Image Showing New Log Splitter

My new log splitter is a 75hp CountyLine brand from TSC. This one appeared to be better built and had slightly more horsepower than any others in the same price range. The fenders came off an old utility trailer. The front leg was certainly sturdy enough, but added to the weight that needed to be picked up. The trailer jack works a lot better for me.

Near the left fender is another minor improvement to the log splitter. The original vent cap was simply a 1" pipe plug with a square head. This required a wrench to remove the plug and check fluid level. The vent was nothing more than two holes drilled from the bottom and one flat side that met in the middle somewhere. That hole seemed pretty big to me and some fluid blew out the first time I used it. I suspect some fluid got splashed on it towing to the woodpile and was pushed out when the fluid warmed up. This vent hole seemed like it would also suck dirt into the sump when the fluid cools. If this vent had some sort of filtration, the fluid should stay cleaner.

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Image Showing Fittings WeldedFittings Welded

My solution was a standard 1" tank vent fitting. This has filter media inside and is large enough it can be installed and removed without tools. There is a hex under the head in case it gets stuck. In order to retain the original dipstick the square head was ground down just enough to fit inside the new vent fitting. The vent hole was drilled straight thru the top to make sure it stayed open. Then the two fittings were welded together.

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Image of Plug for MaintainerBattery Charger Plug

The plug for my battery maintainer is located in the seam at the back of the hood. The plug is tie-wrapped to the roll bar and easily accessible without opening the hood. Make it convenient and it will become habit to use the maintainer.

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Image of Plug2 for MaintainerBattery Charger Plug2

UPDATE: I found a bulkhead type battery plug that could be mounted on the fender. This looks and works better than simply tie-wrapping a plug to the rollbar.

Rear Rack
Rear Rack

Storage Rack: The Chainsaw needed a better place to ride. Some 3/4" black iron pipe looked like it would make a sturdy rack and it is small enough to be bent with a manual conduit bender, barely. A large fender washer welded to the bottom of each leg lets the rack sit in the bed pockets.


Console: The factory put two decent cup holders in the dash, but the adjustable ones on this small console will securely hold just about anything. I,ve never had three people in this thing, so the little console is fastened in place.

NEXT = Cranking Problem Fixed

1Research and Purchase
2Soft Cab and Bed Rails
3Lighting Upgrade and Wiring
4Cranking Problem Fixed
5AWD Switch Upgrade Problem
6Seat Cover and Winch
7Gearshift Service
8Exhaust Tip and Trail Rides


Content and Web Design by K. LaRue — This Site Was Last Updated 02 FEB 2023.

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