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How to Rebuild a Snowmobile Steering System

How to Rebuild a Snowmobile Steering System

A snowmobile is an investment in fun. Without proper maintenance of key areas, your machine will eventually become harder to drive and put an end to your winter riding fun. When it comes to the steering system on your snowmobile, this is one of the most important elements to keep up on for a great ride. Let's take a closer look at how to rebuild a snowmobile steering system to ensure you are ready to ride this season.

Know the signs of trouble

The first step in how to rebuild a snowmobile steering system is knowing if there is anything wrong with it. Unlike other vehicles types, it is harder to tell when a snowmobile has steering issues, but it isn't completely impossible. If the ski is pulling to one side or not responding to the handlebars with as much ease, there is most likely an issue. Even if there isn't a noticeable change in the way the sled rides or steers, you should still check the areas of the steering system every few thousand miles for any signs of wear and tear which need to be replaced.

What makes up the system?

While most people think of a steering system as somewhat mechanical or electrical by nature similar to a car, it is actually rather simple in its design in most snowmobiles. A snowmobile is steered by turning the handlebars which are connected to a stem or rod mounted near the front of the snowmobile. This is connected to the skis which are mounted on the bottom of the snowmobile and turn the vehicle. There are several smaller elements which secure all of these elements together such as screws, rings, pins, washers, and bolts. There are also things related to the throttle and brake system running through this area as well.

Repair or Rebuild?

When it comes to upkeep on this aspect of your sled, you can either do a whole new rebuild or you can choose to repair only the system parts with noticeable age or damage to them. The best bet is to do a whole new rebuild for a few reasons. For starters, if the system is old and used enough to show signs of damage on one part, it will likely have wear and tear on other areas. Another reason is because many people assume that if they can't see wear and tear then it doesn't exist, but if there is age on one part and you have done a complete rebuild, then there is age on other parts which will weaken your system. The best reason to do a complete rebuild instead of just repairing certain parts is that it gives your steering system a fresh start to ensure the best in performance for another few thousands of miles.

Gather the right tools/parts

Once you decide to do your rebuild, you need the right solutions to get the job done. For starters, you will need tools such as wrenches, ratcheting wrenches, and screwdrivers. You will also need to gather all the right parts for the actual rebuild such as new pins, bearings, bolts, or other parts. When choosing the parts, make sure they are the right ones for your manufacturer, model, model year, and the individual series where applicable. It is important to get parts specifically made for your model to ensure they fit and perform the way the manufacturer intended for the vehicle.

Get a schematic for your model

The best way to make sure you get the right parts for the job is to get a schematic of the steering system. These can be found in places such as the owner's manual, online resources, and even when shopping for the parts from a dealer with schematics available. A schematic is a great way to make sure you not only get the right parts, but it also helps you keep track of what part goes where once you get started to avoid confusion.

Replace the parts

Once you have the right parts and tools at the ready, using the schematic you can start the rebuild. Start by removing the old parts one at a time and replace them as you go with the new parts to avoid getting confused. You can even mark off on the schematic after replacing parts to help you stay on track and avoid confusion. When it comes to rod end replacement, worn parts are fairly easy to remove simply by twisting them out and twisting in the new parts. When it comes to removing and replacing more stubborn aspects, such as parts obstructed under the engine, you may need to remove the recoil cover and exhaust pipe according to the owner's manual to gain access. If you have extra stubborn fittings such as nuts or rod ends, you can use a bit of heat from a propane torch provided the flame won't come into contact with any flammable materials.

Check alignment

When working on this area of your snowmobile, it is a common problem that the alignment will be off after you finish. It is important to check your ski alignment and reset it if needed before the next ride. You want to make sure the bars line up with the skis using a tape measurer to make sure they are straight. To do this, adjust the handlebars as you sit on the ski until they fall straight and then using a tape measurer measure from the bar end to a fixed point such as the rear suspension mount bolt. You can then adjust the handlebar position until the measurements are the same on both sides of the tunnel. Once the handlebars are aligned, you will need to check your skis to the recommended one-eighth to one-quarter of an inch.