Glad I got all that off my chest. Sorry about the caps and the language...
I kid you not that I've woken up several nights over the past couple months stewing about this, but I've generally been able to put it to the back of my mind and fall asleep again. Didn't happen tonight though. I've been up since 2am and it's 6am now, so I guess I'm up for the day.
I would advise anyone who has had this problem to have their transmission inspected. After some brainstorming with the mechanic who has been working on the Ranger and showing him how the Ranger becomes impossible to shift after a few minutes of driving it, he concluded that the clutch was not disengaging properly, and that trying to shift once it has reached this state would be equivalent to shifting it while it was moving.
This, of course, is bad, and is undoubtedly what led to the transmission damage. There is no other explanation. The mechanic said they rarely got any machines in that showed transmission damage like this, and on the occasions that they did, it was clear that they'd been run hard. But in my case, he said the machine looked like it had just rolled off the showroom floor. Yes, I took that good care of it. It has something like 150 hours and 600 miles on it. It was used for light farm work. There is nothing that I did that could explain why the transmission would be shot.
I was at the dealer last week, and after paying the $2500 bill for the new transmission, I drove the Ranger around the parking lot for a bit. Sure enough, after 10-15 minutes, it was almost impossible to shift again. Note: not ENTIRELY impossible, but very difficult. So I go back to the mechanic and show him, and he thinks about it for a bit, and says, yeah, the clutch is not disengaging, and if you tried to shift it right now, you'd be doing damage to the transmission. And yes, that is the likely reason that the transmission was shot.
So I ask him, what's the solution? He knows and I know that the Polaris clutch is the faulty component here, but it's a factory defective part. I ask him to contact Polaris and tell them that the clutch is sticking, and ask them how to fix it. He says he could do that, but that they're just going to tell him to do the same thing that's in the service manual, which he's already done.
I say, so then what? I mean, after Polaris tells him what to do, and he does it, and the clutch still sticks, then what happens?
He says that Polaris will probably say I need to buy a new clutch.
For real? It's not like the current clutch is damaged or worn. This is the NEW clutch we're talking about -- the one that was replaced under the Polaris recall. And now that this new clutch is sticking and causing transmission damage, Polaris is going to say I have to BUY another one. It's obvious to everyone that the factory clutch is defective. How can I be expected to fork out money for another defective clutch?
The mechanic is pretty much speechless. He then tells me that Polaris would never admit to there being a problem, so what can we do? He is as lost for an answer as I am.
There is no way to take factory parts from Polaris, stick them in this Ranger, and expect to have it work. I am sitting on a wad of paperwork documenting all of the exchanges between the dealer and Polaris trying to get them to acknowledge the problem, and Polaris responds to the dealer with the same one-liners that gave me: "OUT OF WARRANTY, WON'T FIX". The dealer said they went through all the channels the could trying to contact someone, ANYONE, at Polaris who could do something, and there is simply no way to get through to someone who will listen to the case and acknowledge that there is a problem here.
I asked him to just contact Polaris anyway, tell them the problem with the Ranger clutch, and see how they respond.
That was at least a week ago, and I haven't heard back yet.