Can Am Broken Rear Differential Problems!

Categories: My Dirty Life

First, let me start by saying that I love my buddys’ Can Am Renegade XMR’s.  They are stunning bikes, with tons of power and (in my opinion) the best sounding engines going.  They sound like they’re ready to bite the head off the nearest Polaris they can find!  Two good friends recently bought 2017 Renegade 1000 XMR’s.  One of them is (or was for a long time) the featured bike on the homepage of Dirty Life.

Wherever we go, the XMR’s grab a lot of attention – and I do mean a lot.  They constantly have people coming by when we ride asking questions or simply commenting on how good the bikes look.  It’s almost annoying how much attention they get as we roll through trails and stop along the way for drinks and eats.  We’re regularly held up by the folks that have a thousand questions about the bikes.  How good do they work in the mud?  Do they wander much on hard pack?  How do you like those Silverbacks?  The list of questions goes on and on.

Unfortunately, this post isn’t all about the greatness of these bikes, because it turns out that Can Am has been having rear differential issues since the 2012 Gen 2’s were released and they haven’t cured the problem.  Now, anyone that’s been around bikes, or the automotive industry for any amount of time knows these things can and do happen, but what we as consumers are always watching for is the way the manufacturer reacts to the problem.  Do they deny it and run screaming away from complaints or do they step up and take ownership of the problem and make sure their problems have as little impact on their customers as possible.  No matter what the reason for a rash of problems, it’s maddening when you’ve bought a brand new anything and it fails prematurely, but it helps a lot when the company steps up and says “Yes, we’re aware of the problem.  We’re very sorry it’s affected you, but here’s what we’re going to do to make it right.”

But here’s the rest of the story…


On the afternoon of June 3, 2017 at a major mudding event in Brockville, Ontario called Wheels a Churning (reviewed here), one friend who has rightfully been over-the-moon proud of his new Renegade, pulled his bike down the ramps and off the trailer, rode a few laps around the big open dirt field in front of our campsite and parked his ride.  He was with a group that was late arriving so we all got tents and stuff set up, then prepared to take off for a ride around the grounds.  About 400 feet from the campsite is a little mud hole where one of the stock bikes got stuck.  My friend with the Renegade, always the first guy to step up to help out, pulled up, put the winch on, went to back up and that’s when all hell broke loose (literally!!!)

There was a god-awful noise, you know the one I mean…it’s that one only a bad mechanical failure like an axle or differential can make.  The mood from our group went from smiles, jokes, and everyone eager to enjoy the festivities, to one of collective concern, knowing that 5 minutes into the weekend, one of our group’s ride organizers and the hub for our communication just lost his ride and we hadn’t even gone anywhere yet.  These things happen and no matter how well you know it, no matter how proud you are of your equipment, when they fail, there’s nothing more painful and nothing that will piss you off more than knowing your $22,000 ATV just had a premature failure.  We muddled through the weekend, but there was no denying the failure on Saturday afternoon put a damper on the weekend for all of us.  As we inspected it, we found out that the rear differential had failed, and when it let go, the torque suddenly shifted straight to the front wheels and broke the front drive shaft.  Shitty luck to be sure…or was it?!?

After the weekend, my friend, only 4 months into his regular warranty, and sure that after purchasing the extended warranty, there would be no problems getting this fixed up, took the bike to his dealer and explained what had happened.  Expecting them to say “That’s terrible!  That shouldn’t have happened.  We’ll get it fixed as soon as we can, and we’re sorry for the inconvenience,” he was blown away to have them look at the bike a week later and finally call to tell him they wouldn’t do anything for him.  The damage was caused because the differential was under “extreme load.”  I can tell you for 100%, because I was there when it happened, the bike was most definitely not under “extreme load” and to be perfectly honest, it’s a Can Am 1000 XMR – shouldn’t the differential be able to handle “extreme load?”  Aren’t these the bikes we see Ostacruiser and NOS ATV guys ripping through mud and skeg??

Fast forward a month…after several conversations with Can Am (BRP) and the dealer, my friend still doesn’t have his bike back and is no closer to resolution.  I’ve started to dive into this only to find out that this problem is a huge issue for all the Gen 2 bikes – going all the way back to 2012.  Jarret at Mud n Wheels ( speaks candidly about why he started tackling a problem that BRP won’t admit is a problem – if you have a Can Am ATV or UTV/side-by-side, I strongly recommend you read this and consider upgrading through Jarret.  I’ve watched his videos on YouTube ( and he knows what he’s talking about.  If you’ve ever seen the abuse that Ostacruiser throws at machines, know that they only survive that because of the work done by Jarret at Mud n Wheels.  Pretty much any of the serious (read that as “aggressive”) riders out there have already switched to Mud’N Wheels diffs.  And in terms of full disclosure, yes, you can get them in our shop, but they were added after we had these problems and I found out that it’s a common issue so we decided to help raise awareness to the problem.

And I wish this was the end of the story… that my friend is left having to purchase an upgraded diff from Jarret and saying to hell with BRP/Can Am.  But it’s not.  This past weekend, with just 19 hours on his 2017 Can Am Renegade 1000 XMR, and before he’s even made the second payment on his bike, another friend blew the diff out of his bike as we rode down a trail after a day of mild riding with a couple of mud holes.  Two brand new 2017 Can Am Renegades, and two blown diffs.  Jarret at Mud n Wheels is onto something that Can Am is clearly unwilling to look at.


If anyone at Can Am/BRP happens to stumble across this post, please, read it and take it to heart.  People are upset and frustrated with the lack of support.  Broken parts covered under warranty may ruin a weekend, but avoiding covering the repairs is only going to drive them away.  The loss of revenue you’ll suffer from future purchases, is going to hurt your dealers (Can Am dealers have potentially lost 6 sales from our group of riders, and all future maintenance work on the broken XMR’s), and your company.  You have the most expensive bikes on the market and when your flagship bikes start failing and you won’t back them up, what do you expect consumers to do?  I for one had considered Can Am for my son who is getting into riding and even though I drive the Polaris RZR, he fell in love with the Can Am’s in our group.  Unfortunately, he and I are pretty confident that we won’t be pursuing a Can Am purchase because of the lack of support you’ve shown for your flagship bikes.  Stuff breaks…Polaris, Can Am, Suzuki, Kawasaki, etc. – they all break eventually.  But not honoring your warranty on major failures on your self-proclaimed mud-bike, when there is an obvious manufacturing or engineering defect, is the stuff that pisses consumers off and moves us to another brand for our next purchase.

And in case you’re wondering, we captured the moment the rear diff blew in the first bike – the moment that Can Am is calling “extreme”, the moment of violence that pushed an XMR past it’s limit, which as you can see wasn’t so extreme.  You’d think a belt would burn up before a differential would break!

So, if you’re thinking about Can Am, I suggest to you that they’re an amazing piece of machinery.  Truly one of the best looking, best sounding, most fun bikes out there.  But be aware that just because you have a warranty, even the extended one, it doesn’t mean that Can Am will support mechanical failures.  It’s just another sad case of “buyer beware”.