Can-Am Visco-Lok History and Common Problems

For the drivers that need all grip and no slip, Can-Am was using their Visco-Lok differential as their locker of choice for Can-Am vehicles. While the locker offers benefits to Can-Am drivers, is it the best locking solution on the market? Let’s find out more about the Can-Am Visco-Lok and some of its most common problems.

The Can-Am Visco-Lok is designed to give drivers better control through its limited-slip front differential, calling it a locking differential is a bit of a stretch but it can be an effective traction device. When this traction solution was first introduced, it was a good solution that could help to enhance the driving experience. Rather than having drivers compromise the traction and overall capability of their vehicle, the Can-Am Visco-Lok aims to deliver great traction without comprising vehicle handling. Today, we’re going to discover the history of the Visco-Lok and investigate some of the common issues that users might experience. And don’t worry, we’ll give you our recommended solutions to Visco-Lok’s common issues!


Can-Am Visco-Lok History

The Visco-Lok has been around since 1999 when it was first trademarked by GKN Driveline. It was originally developed for the Traxter, which was the first Can-Am ATV. The Visco-Lok differs from a differential locker, sometimes called a pin locker, as it locks both the axles/drive wheels together solidly and allows no slippage.

The Visco-Lok is a limited-slip differential that uses a mechanical system with pumps and clutches. It was designed to offer more power to the front wheels while offering greater control through the handlebars. The idea behind the Visco-Lok is that no matter what type of terrain you are driving on, you’ll be protected from losing traction when the Visco-Lok becomes active, instead of being forced to stop your journey.

While the Visco-Lok has been adapted since this time for various uses, its benefits still remain the same. The QE version was introduced in 2010 to work in conjunction with the new Dynamic Power Steering and helped to improve reaction times and offer quicker engagement.


How is the Can-Am Visco-Lok Different from the Newer Can-Am Smart-Lok?

More recently, Can-Am introduced the new Smart-Lok, which offers many benefits for drivers of newer Can-Am vehicles. Keep in mind: the company still uses the Visco-Lok on certain models, so it has not replaced the Visco-Lok entirely with the Can-Am Smart-Lok.

The Smart-Lok was developed alongside TEAM Industries and was first introduced to vehicles in 2019. It offers electronic control, so it is more than just the limited-slip differential offered by the Visco-Lok. Drivers can select the mode and change the way that pressure is applied to the clutches based on the information the driver selects. While riding, drivers have full control over their vehicle, offering a safer and more efficient drive.

Want to see both in action? Take a look at the YouTube video below showcasing some small climbs and mud holes with both the Visco-Lok and the Smart-Lok.



Visco-Lok Problems Reported by Can-Am Owners

While Visco-Lok has many great benefits for drivers over an open differential, there’s no denying that there have been many complaints about this solution over the years. The Visco-Lok is often stated to not be a true on-demand differential. Drivers find they need the wheels to actually slip some before the clutch pack engages. At that point, you may have lost your momentum when driving and the differential can slip, rendering it ineffective for what it’s essentially designed to do.

Some drivers have complained that the Visco-Lok failed after a certain number of miles. This unreliability certainly causes frustration in dealing with repairs and taking the vehicle out of service for a period of time.

The Visco-Lok is generally a quiet feature on the vehicle, but for some drivers, it starts to make excessive noise after a certain period of use. While the warranty should help you to receive the necessary repairs if you are within the warranty dates, the parts aren’t always readily available at garages in some parts of the country. Worn-out parts are another common complaint, which may lead to costly repairs if you aren’t covered by the warranty.


How to Disable Your Can-Am Visco-Lok

After dealing with issues with the Visco-Lok, some Can-Am owners opt to disable it instead. This video offers a great guide on how to do this, showing how to disable the Visco-Lok when it’s making excessive noise or failing. It will also offer you the option of upgrading and replacing your Can-Am Visco-Lok. You may want to consider doing so to experience all of the benefits of this solution. In order to complete this process, you’ll need a red thread locker, hex head socket set, paint pen, brake cleaner, and ratchet driver. Make sure you follow the instructions in the video step-by-step or work with a professional to disable the Visco-Lok. As a result, you will help to stop any potential damage to the vehicle or parts.


Best Option for Replacing Your Can-Am Visco-Lok

The good news is that even if you are experiencing some of the issues we’ve shared above, there are options to replace your Can-Am Visco-Lok. Some of the most popular products on the market today come from HALO Lockers. You’ll find a variety of different products on the page here, which are designed for various Can-Am models.

Make sure you always install the correct one, as otherwise, you may end up with greater issues and damage to your vehicle. HALO is part of OX Off Road, which has been a market leader in differential manufacturing for more than 20 years. They strive to use excellent materials to create reliable products that will last you for years to come.

A common question we receive about replacing the Visco-Lok is whether a different brand of locker will impact your vehicle’s performance. The HALO locker is designed to be used at any speed. You can try and install the locker yourself, thanks to the videos available online today. That being said, you may want to work with a professional for the maintenance of your locker or if you have any concerns. This task usually requires more technical knowledge and will ensure your locker and vehicle remain in top condition. Make sure you try and use your locker at least every 30 days to ensure it’s working properly and keep changing the oil as often as the manufacturer recommends.


Vehicle Upgrades and the Visco-Lok

Understandably manufacturers attempt to design products with cost, weight, and size in mind. The Visco-Lok differential is no different. When the design was released it was likely adequate for the stock vehicle at the time. As always with vehicles in this category the public desires more power, more accessories (which equals more weight), bigger tires, and so on. All of these factors increase the stress on the differential making the factory stock Visco-Lok differential more prone to failure. Fortunately, there are companies like HALO Lockers making aftermarket parts designed to withstand abuse and the added stresses that come from vehicle upgrades.


Visco-Lok Final Thoughts

The Visco-Lok was a revolutionary product when it was first released, and it has inspired the newer versions of this locker on offer today. As you can see, there are some concerns with the performance of the Visco-Lok, but with regular use and proper maintenance, you can try to avoid these issues. We recommend disabling and replacing the locker if you are having long-term issues, which you can attempt by yourself with the instructions shared above. With a working locker on your vehicle, you can be sure you’ll have an improved driving experience no matter what type of terrain you are driving on.


About Halo Lockers

Based in Odessa, FL, Halo Lockers is the UTV division of OX Off-Road. OX Off-Road has been manufacturing lockers and off-road-related parts for over 2 decades. Incredible quality and product strength define Halo Lockers.  All Halo Lockers are made in the USA (as opposed to China) using the best materials, manufacturing, and metallurgical processes. When you call us to discuss upgrading your UTV, you are going to talk with an expert. Please call 727-230-7803 with product questions or for assistance with ordering. We look forward to helping you take your Can-Am off-roading experience to the next level.