Preparing Your Snowmobile for Winter

It’s that time of year again – time to bring the snowmobile out from hibernation. But before you even take it out for a spin, you should thoroughly service it and clean it and generally check that everything is in working order. Always refer to your owner’s manual when cleaning or repairing. Some snowmobile owners advise you to take your machine in for service at the end of the season, rather when the season begins. In this way, you can be sure there are no long term effects from letting it sit for several months. However, if you did not do that last spring, do not worry.  There are still things you can do to make sure your snowmobile works perfectly this winter.

First, perform a thorough visual inspection of your snowmobile in a well lit area. Check for any loose parts, a worn out belt or idler wheel, any obvious stresses, buckling or cracks - especially if you own an older model. Lubricate all the lubrication points on your snowmobile – you should be able to find them in the owner’s manual – by using a grease gun. Try to avoid adding too much grease during this process; it should just be visible outside the joint.

If you had your snowmobile in storage with gas left in the tank, drain the tank before adding any fresh gasoline. Any gasoline left in the tank will have deteriorated over the course of several months and may affect the performance of your snowmobile. Top off the brake fluid if necessary, using the specific grade of fluid that’s indicated on the lid of the master cylinder. Coolant should be topped up to the cold mark.

When you stored your snowmobile at the end of last winter, you may have blocked off the air intake and exhaust apertures with a cloth or wooden plug to prevent rodents from nesting – don’t forget to remove any of these! If you removed sparkplugs for cleaning or oiling at the end of last winter, be sure to replace them.

You should also consider cleaning the carburetor. The main cause of engine failure when snowmobiles are first taken out is a dirty carburetor. This can be done with a can of carburetor cleaner and some basic tools. Check the throttle and oil cables for signs of damage.  You should also check for cracks or damage in the fan or water pump belt, if your snowmobile has one.

One of the most important parts of your snow mobile is the skis.  If the skis on your machine are not in good shape, it could be costly or dangerous. Steel skis should have no holes worn in them; plastic skis should not have any deep gouges or cuts in them. Runners should be checked to make sure that they are straight. If a runner is slightly bent, it can easily be straightened by using a vice or take it in to the shop for a quick repair.

Finally, don’t forget to clean your snowmobile. You should wash off any debris such as salt, dirt or leaves. A garden hose and a bucket of soapy water will do the job, or better still, take it to your local car wash. The seat can be cleaned with upholstery cleaner. If the seat is damaged, you can cement similar material underneath. For severe damage you may have to order a replacement seat cover.    

Taking these steps is the best way to get your snow mobile ready for a great winter season.  Now all you need is some snow.

- Ben Anton, 2008
Snowmobile Repower Specialists