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Discussion Starter #1
I have had my 2012 XUV 825i since bought as a demo from the dealer. Factory big horn tires and suspension, no engine mods. I had the front differential plastic roller cage get destroyed in 2014 and I rebuilt the front differential will all new factory internals other than the ring and pinion and the case.

A week ago I had the front differential cage fail again, with lots of metal and plastic in the front diff oil. The hardest thing I do with the gator is plowing in the winter. I have a 60" manual adjustment Eagle plow, and I plow with no ballast in 4wd low. I like to plow quickly, usually around 12-15 mph to get some snow throw distance. Usually the only issues plowing are when icy and the gator gets sucked into a snow bank, giving me a few bang sounds from the front diff before the wheels stop turning.

I wanted to ask some folks who have had success plowing for a few years. Do you use ballast in the box and chains? Do you chain all four or just the rear tires? I was thinking maybe that would unload the front diff and help with longevity. I don't want to spend another $1900 CDN for a replacement front differential in 5 more years if possible.
 

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You definitely need ballast in the rear, if chains are needed I would suggest the rear only.

Note: Deere DOES NOT recommend using any chains on this vehicle.

I fear you are operating the Gator to fast, I understand why you want to through the snow however everything is wound up to tight at 15 mph with a plow. Remember with your plow hanging out in front creates a fulcrum...all that force from the fulcrum has to go somewhere.....

Gator Operators Manual:

 

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I have an icy 400ft driveway too and I was always afraid chains would get loose and destroy something, instead I use ice racing studs, my tires have 1in lugs so I went with 1/2 in studs. Home page
I only lost 2 in one plowing season, you can remove them every season, but I found that to be a hassle so I got a separate set of rims and tires for winter.
If you look at craiglist / kijiji you can find take off sets for less than $500.

As bradhill said add sandbags in the back for weight, just 150 pounds can make a big difference.

As for plowing I go very slow but constant speed, and do multiple passes in a straight line to avoid turning the wheels in 4wd. but I have lots of space to pile the snow.
As winter progress a neighbor comes over with a tractor to lift to push snowbanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
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You definitely need ballast in the rear, if chains are needed I would suggest the rear only.

Note: Deere DOES NOT recommend using any chains on this vehicle.

I fear you are operating the Gator to fast, I understand why you want to through the snow however everything is wound up to tight at 15 mph with a plow. Remember with your plow hanging out in front creates a fulcrum...all that force from the fulcrum has to go somewhere.....

Gator Operators Manual:

Bradhill, I agree going slower would probably solve this problem. I am hoping I can add ballast like you suggest to improve traction, and hopefully drop speed some but still move snow where I want.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I have an icy 400ft driveway too and I was always afraid chains would get loose and destroy something, instead I use ice racing studs, my tires have 1in lugs so I went with 1/2 in studs. Home page
I only lost 2 in one plowing season, you can remove them every season, but I found that to be a hassle so I got a separate set of rims and tires for winter.
If you look at craiglist / kijiji you can find take off sets for less than $500.

As bradhill said add sandbags in the back for weight, just 150 pounds can make a big difference.

As for plowing I go very slow but constant speed, and do multiple passes in a straight line to avoid turning the wheels in 4wd. but I have lots of space to pile the snow.
As winter progress a neighbor comes over with a tractor to lift to push snowbanks.
Scoobieguy, did you put the studs in the front and rear tires? I am feeling Ok about putting them in the back as I think that will unload the front tires and the rear so far has been really stout. But I am worried about stressing the plastic sprague in the front with front spikes. Thanks for the link, I will check those out.

Do you use sandbags? I have an old engine short block lying around, I was thinking of throwing that in the back for 300 lbs of weight.
 

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I have them on the front and back, but I only put 4 studs in the middle lugs, these only stick out 1/4in, just to get out of icy situations.
The CST Ancla that originally came with the gator are ideal for studding, they have a 1in lug.
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Remember if the rear looses grip, then the front 4wd will engage, so put some on the back to start.
I put 4 - 50pds bags at the back of the box near tailgate, plus my gator has a full cab which adds 300-400pds to start. Careful putting too much weight you will ruin your shocks.

I always plow in low gear, and use the diff lock to push snowbanks.
My plow is a light duty snowbear which weighs approx. 200pds I have spring spacers.

I've had studs in for the past 6 winters, and no issues with front/rear diff, I changed the front and rear diff oil last year no metal shavings at all.

Here is the gator in action, its a 2013 825i S4
13392
 

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Just a couple of thoughts..:

At what speed does the FWD kick out? Could it be the speed (12-15) is causing it to kick out and then when speed is reduced it kicks back in. This could cause extra stress on the plastics cage.

suggest reading the section on “theory of operation” for the FWD to see if this is a possibility. My 855D works sling these lines.

when adding weight to rear it might help if the weight was behind the rear wheels so as to take some weight off the front end. I’m guessing one would need to hang something off the rear hitch, such as a luggage rack with weight, to be effective.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I have them on the front and back, but I only put 4 studs in the middle lugs, these only stick out 1/4in, just to get out of icy situations.
The CST Ancla that originally came with the gator are ideal for studding, they have a 1in lug.
View attachment 13391
Remember if the rear looses grip, then the front 4wd will engage, so put some on the back to start.
I put 4 - 50pds bags at the back of the box near tailgate, plus my gator has a full cab which adds 300-400pds to start. Careful putting too much weight you will ruin your shocks.

I always plow in low gear, and use the diff lock to push snowbanks.
My plow is a light duty snowbear which weighs approx. 200pds I have spring spacers.

I've had studs in for the past 6 winters, and no issues with front/rear diff, I changed the front and rear diff oil last year no metal shavings at all.

Here is the gator in action, its a 2013 825i S4
View attachment 13392
Scoobieguy, any issues driving onto concrete with the studs? I occasionally need to go in the shop or barn, wondering how bad the studs tear up concrete or asphalt.

I didn't think about it, but with your 4 seat version and cab you are probably 500 lbs heavier off the bat. I think my machine weighs 1600 lbs as it sits (no cab). That makes me feel better about adding more weight, the transaxle should be able to handle it. I have spotted some shock oil on the passenger rear shock. What kind of shock failures have you seen with weight?

You mentioned spring spacers, was that to compensate for the ballast in the box?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Just a couple of thoughts..:

At what speed does the FWD kick out? Could it be the speed (12-15) is causing it to kick out and then when speed is reduced it kicks back in. This could cause extra stress on the plastics cage.

suggest reading the section on “theory of operation” for the FWD to see if this is a possibility. My 855D works sling these lines.

when adding weight to rear it might help if the weight was behind the rear wheels so as to take some weight off the front end. I’m guessing one would need to hang something off the rear hitch, such as a luggage rack with weight, to be effective.
200mph I haven't had issues with the FWD kicking out. The issues I have had are plowing an icy driveway and one wheel looses traction, or the machine suddenly stops because the plow blade is sucked into the bank. When one of these two things happen at speed I get a few bangs out of the front diff. I believe that is the front rollers in the diff locking and unlocking harshly either from one wheel slipping, or both front wheels stopped when the transaxle is still spinning in the back.

I agree it would be best to have weight behind the rear axle. I think I will probably put weight either right on top of the rear tires in the box or slightly forward of the rear axle. I have found in the past with the hydraulic dump box that if it is loaded all at the back it tends to not contact in the front and rattle and bounce.
 

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Studs are ok on a 6000psi concrete slab no real marks.
Do not leave the 4wd on and turn with studs on pavement / concrete you risk wedging the drive shaft or breaking a drive axle.
Always in straight line back forward if in 4wd, but disengage is preferred.

Yes the S4 is 2000 pds dry weight without a cab, so with the cab and weight closer to 500/700 pds heavier than yours.

One trick I use for 10+ inches is to do a few passes with the plow approx. 4in higher to one side.
Then I drop the blade all the way down to push the rest with straight blade.

Even if my driveway is pretty curved with hills, I keep pushing and backing up in straight lines.
I rarely turn but that is my routine.
 

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One more thing about the spring spacers, I added them to stiffen up the springs for the added weight of the cab, with spacers and 27" tires installed I have 12in of clearance front and back.
I believe the S4 has larger springs to start with, but the added weight made them sag a bit.

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You can also swap springs for a stiffer one, and if you have too much cash I've seen air shocks https://www.legendsuspensions.com/utv/ actually if you had to replace all shocks with Deere parts the price would be comparable.
 

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Just a weight suggestion. I already have to buy salt for my water softener. I bought 6 bags for the winter in the gator and now I have them for the softener.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the experience, suggestions, and advice everyone. I will add some ballast and either ice spikes or chains this winter, and slow down the speed a bit. Should make my front differential last a lot more years.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I wanted to follow up with my outcome so far. I added 350 lbs of ballast weight in the box centered over the rear tires. I added Kold Kutter ice screws to the tires as well. I used their #8 x 1/2" long size tire screws, I ordered a 1000 bag, and with the patterns I used below, I had only 40 or so screws left.

Front tires, center lugs only:
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Rear tires, most lugs covered:
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The improvement in traction is very noticeable, even on surfaces with no ice. I am plowing in 4x4 low with the rear differential locked, and I can stop with a full pile of snow infront of the plow blade and start moving again without issue. This was not possible before the changes. I also changed the front differential fluid to a synthetic in the hopes of that helping, although fluid was not the issue before. I am very impressed with the traction, and hopefully with slower plowing I will have long front differential life.
 

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That is a lot of studs, how long did it take? Hopefully you leave them in full time if you don't drive on paved roads in the summer.
Excellent glad to hear about the improvement (y) Those koldcutter studs are priced right and offer excellent traction.
We are getting our first snowfall tonight. I need to mount the plow and swap tires.

From the picture I see you can never have too many wire brushes :)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
That is a lot of studs, how long did it take? Hopefully you leave them in full time if you don't drive on paved roads in the summer.
Excellent glad to hear about the improvement (y) Those koldcutter studs are priced right and offer excellent traction.
We are getting our first snowfall tonight. I need to mount the plow and swap tires.

From the picture I see you can never have too many wire brushes :)
It took about 2 hours for all the studs. I sunk them until the rim at the bottom of the head was just lower than the surrounding rubber. I think that was enough without stripping the hole. I ended up getting a second set of tires to put them on so I don't have to worry about damaging things in the summer.

I do some automotive fabrication work as a hobby, need my brushes!
 
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