Snow building up is a common problem in snowmobile tunnels, especially if they run in cold weather.
In a nutshell, the six best ways to prevent or eliminate ice build-ups in your snowmobile tunnel are as follows:
- Coat the inside of the tunnel with a lubricant spray (Lithium Spray Grease, Teflon Fluid Film, Chain Wax)
- Remove/trim the snow flap
- Move up the ice scratchers
- Jump the sled or hammer it on a rough trail
- Lift up the back of the sled and drop it a couple of times
- Tap the side of the tunnel with a rubber mallet each time you stop
If you want to find out more about these 6 methods, keep reading.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all you need to know into this post!
Why Does Ice Build Up in a Snowmobile Tunnel?
It’s safe to say that ice building up is a common problem on many snowmobiles. This causes many headaches as certain sleds can’t run more than 2-3 hours without a significant amount of ice building up in the tunnel.
The amount of ice deposition depends on several factors, the most important of which are the following:
- The cooling system of the sled
- The size and design of the tunnel and the heat exchanger
- Size of the snow flap
- Whether your sled is equipped with a tunnel protector
- Track size and design
- Snow conditions
- Terrain/trail conditions
- Whether the sled is equipped with ice scratchers
Ice build-ups in the tunnel typically arise on long tours on smooth trails or on lakes where the suspensions aren’t working much.
Snow conditions and outside temperature also play important roles. The colder the weather, the worse this issue gets.
Other significant factors are the design and features of the sled. Some machines are more prone to this problem, especially the liquid-cooled models.
Where does this ice build-up in the tunnel come from? Simply put, on liquid-cooled snowmobiles, snow and ice melt off the heat exchanger, and the water freezes on the inner sides of the tunnel.
This is possible because the heat exchanger is typically narrower than the tunnel, even if it runs the entire length of it.
Because of this, on many sleds, there’s 2-3 inches of cold metal surface between the sides of the tunnel and the heat exchanger. The melted snow freezes on this surface, usually the entire length of the tunnel.
And this is not just some light slush or accumulated snow, but real ice that can cause various problems.
If you’re wondering what these potential issues are, keep reading!
Problems with Ice Build-Ups in the Tunnel
Ice build-ups in the tunnel can cause various problems, but the most commons are as follows:
- Annoying noise
- Potential track damage
- The track can “shoot” ice chunks out the rear
- Overheating issues
- You have to stop to remove the ice
If this ice keeps on building up, it can finally form large chunks inside the tunnel. In some cases, the track can reach the ice, which starts to rub against the lugs, making a sound like there’s a piece of wood stuck inside the tunnel.
This not only creates an annoying noise but can also put lots of wear on the track. Especially the outside edges of the track, which are prone to fraying. But in the worst-case scenario, the ice can even break lugs off the track.
When the chunks of ice break off, they can make scary noises when going through the tunnel.
Besides potential track damage, the other concern is that the track could “shoot” ice chunks out behind the sled. These flying ice pieces can cause significant damage to other sleds riding behind.
What’s more, if the ice becomes very large, it can even form a bridge that blocks fresh snow from the heat exchanger. Since the track can’t throw fresh snow onto the exchanger, it often leads to overheating.
To avoid these issues, best practice is to prevent the ice building up in the tunnel.
Let’s drill into the details and take a closer look at the best methods to prevent your tunnel from icing!
6 Ways to Prevent Ice Build-Ups in a Snowmobile Tunnel
1. Spray Down the Inside of the Tunnel
One of the most common ways of preventing ice build-ups is to coat the inside of the tunnel with a lubricant spray. The most commonly used sprays for this purpose are as follows:
- Lithium Spray Grease
- Teflon Fluid Film
- Chain Wax
- Cooking Sprays
- Pledge Spray
- Tri-Flow Lubricant
- Marine Wax
Based on our research, the most proven products are Lithium, and Teflon Fluid sprays as well as Chain Wax.
Just grab a can of one of these and spray the tunnel down on the areas where ice typically builds up. These areas generally are the tail end of the tunnel and the inner sides near the heat exchanger.
Although this trick doesn’t help get rid of all of the ice, it can reduce the amount and make it much easier to remove.
2. Remove/Trim the Snow Flap
Another lesser-known way to reduce the amount of ice build-ups in the tunnel is by trimming the snow flap.
A shorter snow flap keeps less snow inside the tunnel, so there is less chance of ice forming.
On the other hand, a snow flap that is too short can cause overheating issues, especially on trail snowmobiles. Therefore, make sure not to trim off too much from your snow flap.
If you ride exclusively off-trail, you can also consider removing the entire snow flap.
3. Move Up the Ice Scratchers
If your sled is equipped with ice scratchers, they can also increase the tunnel’s ice build-ups. They feed the track with more snow and ice, which can increase the size of the ice chunks.
Because of this, don’t use your ice scratchers unless it’s absolutely necessary.
4. Jump the Sled
You can also get rid of ice chunks by jumping your sled a little or hammering it on a rough trail.
The bumps break the ice build-up into pieces that fall off behind the sled. If you decided to go with this solution, make sure that nobody is riding behind you as the track can shoot the ice chunks oot the rear!
5. Slam the Sled
If you can’t prevent or eliminate the ice build-up in any of the above ways, you have no choice but to stop and remove it manually. How do you do this?
One of the most common methods is by lifting up the back end of the sled by the rear bumper and dropping it to the ground a couple of times.
Slamming the sled in this way can help break the ice up into pieces. You can also run the sled in reverse a little while your track works out the falling ice chunks at the rear.
6. Tap the Tunnel with a Rubber Mallet
Although slamming the sled’s rear is easy on trails, if you ride off-trail all day, you can hardly find any places to do that.
This is where a rubber mallet comes into play. Just carry one on you and tap the tunnel each time you stop the sled.
Best practice is to start tapping the sides of the tunnel, followed by the underside of the bumper frame. Eventually, you can gently hit the inside of the tunnel walls.
You may want to use something (like a work glove) to protect the surface of your tunnel.
Most ice chunks will simply fall off the tunnel, but you can also pull the pieces out by hand if needed. Putting the sled in reverse can help work out the rest.
Although the rubber mallet is the most used tool for this purpose, some riders prefer to use a long ice scraper instead.
Ice build-ups in the tunnel can cause many headaches as the ice chunks can damage the track or even another sled riding behind.
To avoid these issues, you have to prevent or eliminate ice build-ups around the track. The most common solutions for this are:
- Coat the inside of the tunnel with a grease spray
- Remove/trim your snow flap
- Don’t use your ice scratchers
- Jump the sled or hammer it on a rough trail
- Slam the back of the sled to the ground a couple of times
- Tap the tunnel with a rubber mallet
Although these tricks can reduce the amount of ice build-up and make it easier to remove, they can’t completely prevent this issue.
Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you check your tunnel each time you stop and remove the ice chunks for safety reasons!