But, for some, the arrival of winter is a signal to dust off the snowmobile and start hitting the trails. If the latter sounds like you, practice proper snowmobile maintenance before setting out to make sure you don’t find yourself stranded in the cold.
Here are 8 tips to consider for snowmobile maintenance:
1. Prepare in advance
Since your snowmobile has been sitting in your garage all spring, summer and fall, give the machine a proper and thorough inspection before setting out for the first time. While a general engine tune up is good, also check the condition of your snowmobile and its safety features.
Getting your snowmobile running smoothly is determined by whether you can get it started up at all. Check sparkplugs on a regular basis to ensure the engine starts even in the coldest temperatures. To check a sparkplug, remove it, ground it and run it. If the sparks produced are yellow or don’t show at all, it’s time to get a new one.
Every engine needs adequate amounts of fuel to run, but the ratios and types of fuel used are different for every machine. Check the fuel and oil recommendations from the manufacturer to make sure your snowmobile is getting enough juice to run properly.
In addition to gas and oil, most snowmobile engines require antifreeze to cool. Always check your snowmobile’s antifreeze reservoir to make sure you have enough to prevent engine problems. Also be sure to follow manufacturer instructions in terms of what type of antifreeze to use.
5. Skis and carbides
What makes a snowmobile great for getting around in the winter is their ability to hug, handle and glide smoothly through different snow and ice conditions. And this starts with having good condition skis and carbides (the hard skate-like piece which cuts into ice and keeps the skis from coming into direct contact with hard surfaces). Check these important parts of your snowmobile for cracks, chips and other signs of wear and tear.
6. Belts and track
Like any engine, a snowmobile engine is run by various belts. Working together, these belts drive the track which propels the vehicle forward. Check the belts and track for signs of wear and tear and replace them accordingly. While a belt may still be in working order, if it snaps while you’re out in the woods, you may be stranded. Better safe than sorry!
7. Consult your owner’s manual
Depending on the age, type or purpose of your snowmobile, there are different parts or sections of the engine which may require further maintenance. Take a quick flip through your owner’s manual to see if the manufacturer recommends further attention.
8. Stay in contact
While a well-maintained snowmobile is not likely to break down, accidents do happen. Be sure to carry tools or extra spare parts with you on all your winter escapades. Always let someone know when you are setting out and when you plan to be back or reach your destination.