Preparing Your Snowmobile For Winter
As the seasons change from the hot summer to the cold of winter, it’s finally time. You’ve been eagerly eyeing your snowmobile all year, and now is the right time to get it back in action. Before the first snow falls, you can go ahead and get your sled ready to go so it’s out of the way when it’s time to head to the trails, ski resort, or wherever else you typically ride. This preparation process takes just about an hour or two, depending on your experience with your snowmobile. Make the season as hassle-free as possible by doing your due diligence.
Visual Snowmobile Inspection: In a garage, your driveway, or other location, make sure you have enough light to carry out this inspection. You will be looking for buckling, cracks, and areas of stress that need attention, so optimal light is essential. Did you plug your air intake or exhaust during storage? Unplug these areas first before getting going. This also includes your air box, as mice like to get in there to nest. To begin, start with the belt and clutches, as they’re prone to wear and tear. Make sure loose belt dust is blown out of the area once you’ve removed the belt cover. If your belt is still in excellent condition, keep it. If it’s worn and starting to show signs of cracking, replace it.
Next up, check your battery. Test it to ensure it’s holding charge right, and check the spark plugs too. These may need to be changed out. From here move on to the track and slider shoes. Check for missing lug nuts, tears, and general damage. Look for cuts in plastic skis and holes in steel skis. For the slider shoes (or hyfax), if there is any sign of wear, change it out. If you won’t, the hyfax will begin to wear down rapidly, and that’s not a problem you want to be dealing with. Inspect the idler wheels and bearings, rear skid, carbides, and riser height. For the rear skid, give a little attention to the grease zerks. If the carbides have chips, appear bent, or are missing mounting studs, they need to be replaced. Your riser height should be in line with the steering post.
Fluid Check: Your snowmobile’s fluids are crucial to general operation. Old gas could have deteriorated in your gas tank, which could deter the sled’s performance. If you left gas in it while in storage, drain it out. If you used an additive, you won’t necessarily need to drain it. Just top the tank off with non-ethanol premium and run it on low on the first tank. Without the use of an additive, drain and fill it back up with fresh gas and then move on to check the brake fluid. Top it off with what your owner’s manual recommends. Do the same for the coolant.
You should also change your chain case oil if you haven’t in a while. Drain the oil and then pull the chain case cover off. Look for rusted areas and make sure the chain isn’t kinked up. If it is, you will probably need to replace it. Use your owner’s manual for more on the oil and lube type to use here, as well as the bolt torque specs.
Engine Features: This is a very important one. Since carburetors can become dirty fairly easily, they’re a popular cause of engine failure. Take a look at your sled’s carburetor and clean it up if it’s dirty. Other areas of the engine to inspect include the water pump belt, the fan, the throttle, and the oil cables. Should you spot a crack in any of these, get them replaced immediately.
Sled Clean-Up (If Applicable): If your sled appears dirty, finish up the preparation process by giving it a good clean. Wash and wax it so it looks great for the start of an awesome season. There are many different snowmobile washing products on the market that are appropriate for the plastics and skis. However, many snowmobilers choose like Pledge® for the plastics and Windex® for the windshield. Whatever you choose, don’t wipe down the seat with a polish.
Follow this guide so your snowmobile is ready to go when you are. This procedure takes time, but it greatly decreases the risk of future headaches and potentially dangerous situations. A faulty carburetor or bent carbide could seriously ruin the fun day you had planned when your snowmobile isn’t operable. Making these simple checks could save you hundreds or thousands in repairs. With each season, you’ll get better and better at moving through the preparation, helping you to spot issues more quickly. Is your snowmobile primed and ready to carve through this year’s powder? As always, wear the right gear and bring along recommended safety gear to have a safe and thrilling ride!