Yes, you can leave a snowmobile outside all winter, or even year-round! However, indoor storage is always the best option if available. If you are considering leaving your snowmobile outside, this post is for you. We’ve compiled the pros and cons of outside storage, with some vital tips on how to avoid damage!
Can You Leave a Snowmobile Outside?
If you are on a trip, leaving a snowmobile outside for a night or two in front of the cabin is not a big deal. Just make sure you put the cover on to keep your sled clean.
But when it comes to long-term storage, this requires more consideration.
Although there are many different ways to store a snowmobile, best practice is to always keep it in a garage. But let’s face it, this option is not available to everyone.
For many owners, the only place they have to store their sleds is outside. If this too is the case with you, then you may want to know what the pros and cons are of long-term outside storage.
Let’s look at them one-by-one!
Pros of Outside Snowmobile Storage
If this is your only option
Outside storage is an option for almost every owner. You can even store your sled outside all year as long as it’s legal. It’s good to know that in certain areas the law may require that all motorized vehicles and equipment be stored inside.
Therefore, always check the local laws to stay legal before leaving your sled outside.
Unlike dirt bikes or other smaller toys, sleds can hog a significant amount of space in the garage.
Even if you have a garage where you might be able to store your sled, you may not want it to take up so much space.
If space is an issue for you, it makes sense to store your sled in the yard, at least for the season.
If you store your sled in the garage, moving it around can be an issue, especially if your track is studded. This is because studs are prone to damaging the garage floor as well as the driveway.
You can move your sled with a dolly of course, but it’s not very convenient, especially if you have issues with your back.
Keeping the sled outside means you only have to remove the cover/tarp, warm up the sled, and it’s ready to ride immediately.
There is nothing more comfortable than sitting on the seat and starting your ride!
You can leave the sled on the trailer
Another important consideration is that you can leave your sled(s) on the trailer at all times. If you have an open trailer, loading and unloading the sled is always a hassle!
That’s why many owners simply leave their sleds on the trailer. They just put covers and a tarp over them. It’s a quick and easy and solution!
It is best if you have an enclosed trailer, as you can store your sled and gear in it year-round.
Cons of Outside Snowmobile Storage
Snow and ice build-ups
As you can assume, outside storage has quite a few disadvantages.
One of the main problems is the snow and ice will build up on the sled. Even if you cover it carefully, be prepared to constantly be digging your sled out of deep snow.
Another problem is that the track and skis tend to freeze to the ground. To avoid this, it’s recommended that you store the sled on pallets.
Damage and price depreciation
Another main problem is that outside storage always means less protection for your sled. This means you have to worry about various types of damage like rust, faded plastic parts, and damage caused by animals.
Ice continuously builds up on the metal parts, and thawing turns it into water again and again.
Therefore, if you have a new high-end sled, it’s recommended that you not store it outside!
Warming up takes longer
If you keep your sled outside, it also means you should take more time warming it up. Don’t forget that besides the engine, the clutches and the track should be warmed up too. You can learn how to properly warm up a sled here.
Finally, don’t forget about security. Did you know that many sleds can be started without a key by unplugging the wires from their ignition switch?
If you keep your sled outside, it’s much easier to steal. Therefore, it’s wise to have full insurance coverage on your sled.
How do You Store a Snowmobile Outside?
To properly store a snowmobile outside here are the five most important precautions:
- Keep the track off the ground
- Cover it carefully
- Keep the animals away
- Consider a shed or an enclosed trailer
- Pay attention to the sled
Keep the Track Off the Ground
If a snowmobile track stands on the ground all the time, it wears out much faster. To avoid this, it’s very important that you keep the track off the ground if you store your snowmobile outside.
Best practice is to jack up the back of the sled or place some pallets side-by-side and ride your sled on top of them. On this way, you can save your track from being damaged and frozen.
Stored on the pellets the track may still freeze a little bit, but you can easily solve this by lifting the rear of the sled slightly and bump it down. It’s also recommended that you move the front of the skis by hand to release them.
Covers and Tarps
Another important step is to cover your sled carefully. If you store it uncovered, be prepared for much faster wear.
First, you will need a good quality cover. Cheap covers are not recommended as they let the UV rays through. This could be a problem especially if you want to store your sled outside during the summer.
Besides the cover, you may want to further protect your sled with a tarp. Once the cover is on, place a big tarp over the sled to keep the snow, water, and sun off.
Best practice is to cover the whole sled, including the skis and the snowflap. Also, make sure to securely fasten the tarp to the sled!
Using tarps is one of the most common ways to protect and keep snowmobiles clean. Additionally, the tarp will protect your cover as well, so you will have to replace it less often.
Keeping Animals Away
Animals can cause a lot of headaches, especially in the summer. Mice, rats, squirrels, critters, or even bees can all damage your sled!
To keep animals away from your snowmobile, put steel wool into the exhaust and the carb intake. Another trick is to place some moth spheres under your sled’s hood. (These tips are for summer storage of course.)
Consider a Shed or a Trailer
If you are looking for better protection, or just don’t want to dig your sled out of the snow, you should consider a snowmobile shed.
There are many small sheds and shelters on the market to choose from, or you can even build a custom one. It’s also a good idea to place a plywood floor in the shed for added protection.
Just like sheds, enclosed trailers can also be used to store your sled. Whether you have a smaller shell trailer or a big V-nose enclosed trailer, all of them are great places to store your gear and sled year-round. Just make sure you leave the trailer’s vents open for safety reasons.
If you want to go for a ride, you can just hook up the trailer and go!
Pay Attention to Your Sled
If it stored outside, your sled requires even more attention and care. Here are some maintenance tips to keep your sled in good shape during the season:
- Check the sled regularly
- Never leave the parking brake engaged
- Grease your sled even more precisely and fog the engine
- Start its engine every week even if you don’t ride it
- Keep the tank topped off with fresh gas (or use stabilizer)
- Clear the snow from the sled periodically
- Inspect for damage and animal activity
Snowmobiles can be stored outside year-round, even if this is not the best way to store them.
If you are considering storing your sled outside, you will just need a good cover, a tarp, and a couple of pallets.
Ride your sled onto the pallets, put the cover on, and finally secure the trap to the sled. It’s cheap, easy, and available to almost every owner.
Unfortunately, in certain areas, it’s not legal to store motorized equipment outside. Thus, sleds cannot be kept outside either!
If you are bound by the law, or just looking for better protection, you can invest in a small shed.
This not only means better protection for your toy, but you won’t have to remove the snow and ice build-ups every time.
And that’s a big advantage!
As the final word, don’t forget that storing outside offers the least security for your sled. Because of the numerous risks, a good insurance policy is highly recommended!