Image Credit: (NPS Photo), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Nothing would ruin your winter more than getting your snowmobile out to find there is something wrong with it. You may have to spend hours figuring out the problem, or you may have to pay to get it fixed. This could delay your fun in the snow. Fortunately, there is a way that you can prevent this problem and that is with pre-season snowmobile maintenance.
To ensure your sled runs smoothly and to avoid potential problems down the road, it is important to conduct regular maintenance checks, as follows:
Inspecting the Fuel System
The fuel system is the first thing you will want to start with. Carefully examine all the fuel lines for any signs of leaks, cracks, or damage. Even a small crack in a fuel line can cause significant problems, so it is important to replace it immediately if you notice any issues.
You should also inspect the fuel filter to see if it is clean and functioning properly. A clogged or dirty fuel filter can cause the engine to run poorly or even stall, so it is important to replace it if necessary.
While inspecting the fuel system, consider adding fresh fuel to the tank. It is important to note that fuel can break down over time, which can lead to engine problems or poor performance.
Checking the Oil Level
The next step you will want to take is to check the oil level to ensure it is at the proper level to avoid potential engine damage. To do this, locate the dipstick, remove it, and check the oil level against the indicated line. If the oil level is too low, add more oil until it reaches the appropriate line.
If the oil appears dirty or the filter is clogged, it's time to change the oil and oil filter. This is an essential step to ensure your snowmobile runs smoothly and to prevent potential engine problems. Dirty oil can cause significant engine damage, and a clogged filter can reduce engine performance. Therefore, it is important to replace both the oil and the oil filter regularly.
Inspecting the Cooling System
Next, inspect the cooling system. This involves checking the coolant level and inspecting the hoses for any signs of damage, such as breaks, tears, or leaks. If you notice any issues with the hoses, it is important to replace them immediately to prevent potential engine damage.
It is also a good idea to flush the system of old coolant at least once a year. This can help remove any buildup or debris that may have accumulated over time, ensuring that the cooling system runs as efficiently as possible. When refilling the coolant, be sure to consult your owner's manual to ensure you are using the correct type of coolant for your snowmobile. By inspecting and maintaining your snowmobile's cooling system, you can help prevent overheating and other potential engine problems.
Checking the Air Filter
Another important aspect of snowmobile maintenance is to check and replace the air filter when necessary. A clogged and dirty air filter can reduce your snowmobile's engine performance, causing it to run poorly or even stall.
To check the air filter, remove it from the snowmobile and inspect it thoroughly. Look for any signs of dirt and debris that may have accumulated on the filter. If you notice any buildup, it's time to replace the air filter to ensure that your snowmobile runs as smoothly as possible.
Replacing the air filter regularly can help improve engine performance and extend the life of your snowmobile. Neglecting to replace a clogged air filter can cause significant engine damage, which can be expensive to repair.
Checking the Belts
Your drive belt is very important, and you should inspect it thoroughly during your inspection. It plays a critical role in the operation of your snowmobile, and a worn or damaged belt can cause significant problems with your machine's performance.
To inspect the belt, carefully examine it for any defects, such as loose cords or cracking. If you notice any issues, it is important to replace the belt immediately to avoid potential problems. A belt that has lost its form can cause the snowmobile to run poorly, and a glazed belt can reduce traction and performance. If the belt appears glazed, use a scuff pad to buff it out.
After cleaning the belt, re-install it and run the machine for a few minutes to ensure everything is in good condition. Regularly checking and maintaining your snowmobile's drive belt can help prevent potential problems and extend the life of your machine.
Inspect the Brakes
The next part of your inspection should be your brakes. Properly functioning brakes are essential for safety, and neglecting this aspect of your snowmobile's maintenance can result in serious accidents or damage to your machine.
To inspect the brakes, check both the brake lines and the brake pads for any signs of wear or tear. If you notice any issues, it is important to replace them immediately. You should also check the brake fluid level to ensure it is at the appropriate level. It is recommended to change the brake fluid annually, regardless of how much you use your snowmobile.
Regularly checking and maintaining your snowmobile's brakes can help prevent potential accidents and extend the life of your machine. Neglecting to replace worn brake pads or low brake fluid levels can cause serious damage to the braking system, which can be expensive to repair.
Checking the Suspension
If your suspension and shocks are not in good functioning order, it can lead to problems. The suspension and shocks play a crucial role in providing a smooth and comfortable ride. Neglecting this part of your snowmobile's maintenance can cause significant issues with your machine's performance.
Shocks are generally good for up to 2,500 miles, but if you use your snowmobile infrequently, they may last up to 4,000 miles. However, it is important to look out for signs that you may have issues with your shocks, such as bad handling, fuel leakage, or physical discomfort after riding.
To inspect the suspension and shocks, carefully examine the pistons for any signs of wear or damage. Make sure they are securely in place and not loose. If you notice any issues, it is important to replace the parts to ensure that your snowmobile runs smoothly and safely.
Check the Lights and Electrical System
Your next task in the inspection will be to check the electrical system. The electrical system is critical for the proper functioning of the snowmobile, and a malfunctioning system can cause significant problems with your machine's performance.
To inspect the electrical system, look for any broken wires or other issues that may affect the proper functioning of the system. If you find any broken wires or other issues, it is important to fix them immediately to prevent potential problems.
Check that all of your snowmobile's lights are working properly. This includes the headlight, taillight, and brake light. If any of the lights are not functioning correctly, you may need to replace the bulb or the entire light assembly.
You should also check the battery to ensure it is charging properly. Look for any corrosion around the battery cables and clean them if necessary. If the battery is not charging or does not hold a charge for very long, it may be time for a replacement.
Inspecting the Track
The track is one of the most important parts of your machine and neglecting it can cause significant problems with performance.
To inspect the track, carefully examine it for any signs of wear and tear. If you notice any issues, such as cracks, cuts, or missing lugs, it is a good idea to have the track replaced immediately to prevent potential problems.
You should also ensure that the track is tensioned correctly for your snowmobile. The proper track tension can be found in your owner's manual. An improperly tensioned track can cause significant issues with your machine's performance, so it is important to check and adjust the tension regularly.
Going for a Test Ride
Once you have fully inspected your snow machine and completed any necessary maintenance or repairs, you will now want to take it for a test ride. During the test ride, make sure to test every aspect of the machine, paying particular attention to the engine and track.
Look for any issues with the machine's functionality and address them immediately if you notice any problems. By doing so, you can ensure that your snowmobile is in good condition and ready for the season.
Performing a pre-season snowmobile check can help prevent potential problems and ensure that your machine runs smoothly throughout the winter season. Be sure to consult your owner's manual for specific instructions on how to maintain your brand and model of snowmobile, as each model may have unique needs.
Here are five online resources that you can use to further research pre-season snowmobile maintenance:
1. American Snowmobiler Magazine (https://www.americansnowmobiler.com/) - This website offers a wide range of snowmobile-related content, including maintenance tips and product reviews.
2. Snowmobile.com (https://www.snowmobile.com/) - This website features a section dedicated to snowmobile maintenance, with articles on everything from changing the oil to adjusting the track.
3. SnowTech Magazine (https://www.snowtechmagazine.com/) - This magazine's website includes a variety of technical articles on snowmobile maintenance, as well as product reviews and riding tips.
4. Ski-Doo (https://www.ski-doo.com/) - The official website of Ski-Doo, one of the leading snowmobile manufacturers, offers a variety of resources for snowmobile maintenance and repair, including owner's manuals and service bulletins.
5. Arctic Cat (https://www.arcticcat.com/) - The official website of Arctic Cat, another leading snowmobile manufacturer, also provides resources for snowmobile maintenance and repair, including owner's manuals and service bulletins