As the name suggests, a belly pan is a large pan-shaped plastic piece mounted on the bottom of the front of snowmobiles. It’s designed to increase floatation in powder and protect the bottom of the machine against smaller collisions with rocks, trees, or ice. That’s why belly pans are commonly used on mountain sleds!
If you want to find out more about snowmobile belly pans, this post is for you.
We at PowerSportsGuide have gathered all you need to know about this key feature. Besides the basics, you can read about how to clean and fix a broken belly pan!
What Is a Belly Pan on a Snowmobile?
A snowmobile’s belly pan, also known as a tub or hull, is a large body part mounted on the bottom of the frame. OEM belly pans are typically made of plastic or fiberglass, while some custom and aftermarket pans are made of aluminum.
But are belly pans really necessary on a snowmobile? Keep reading to find out the answer!
Is a Belly Pan Necessary on a Sled?
Many riders say that a belly pan is necessary on a snowmobile if you want to ride off-trail. You never know what might be under the snow, so there’s always a risk that you will accidentally hit a stump, rock, ice ridge, or other debris. Unfortunately, these can damage your engine or front suspension.
This is where the belly pan comes into play!
It works to protect the bottom of the sled to prevent these types of damage in many cases.
Another advantage of a belly pan is that it can increase the floatation of your sled and prevent snow built-ups in the chassis. What’s more, it can give your sled a custom look!
Therefore, if you are considering riding off-trail, you can’t go wrong with a belly pan. It’s still far cheaper than fixing the engine and/or other front-end parts on your sled.
A belly pan adds some extra pounds of weight, which is never desired on a mountain snowmobile. Another drawback of having a belly pan is that it can crack or break in a collision.
On top of that, a blown belt can shoot a hole into the belly pan or can even break a larger piece off of it.
If this happens, you need to know how to fix it.
What is the Best Way to Repair a Belly Pan?
Repairing a snowmobile belly pan can be tricky in many ways, as removing it is not an easy task! Therefore, the best way to repair a belly pan is to fix it without removing it.
How can you fix a damaged belly pan?
As a rule of thumb, it always depends on the type of damage and the pan’s material.
One of the most common types of belly pan damage is one or more cracks on its surface caused by small collisions. You can stop these cracks from splitting further if you drill a small hole at each end of them.
If it has more significant damage, you can fix it with a plastic welding kit, which offers a permanent and nearly invisible fix. But if you don’t want to invest in this kit, you can still remove the belly pan and take it to an auto body shop, as they typically have plastic welders and offer this type of repair as a service.
If you’re looking for a cheap solution and don’t mind the bad aesthetics, you can place a plastic or aluminum plate over the hole and fix it with pop rivets.
It won’t win design awards, but it works!
Is it Hard to Change a Belly Pan?
If you are looking for the most stylish solution, best practice is to invest in a new belly pan. Besides pricy OEM units, you can find many used ones on eBay.
Although it’s not hard to change a belly pan on a snowmobile, it can be very time-consuming. This is because you have to pull out the entire engine, exhaust pipe, or even the suspension on most sleds to replace the belly pan. (However, the exact process varies from one sled to another.)
It can be a lot of work, especially if you’ve never tried it before!
Cleaning a Snowmobile Belly Pan
Let’s face it, belly pans can become very dirty over time. What can you use to clean them?
Simply put, the best materials for cleaning a belly pan are Simple Green, Cat Cleaner, Westley’s Bleach White, or some old fuel if there’s any nearby. You will also need some rags and a scrub brush, as the exhaust side typically needs more care!
Here’s a great tutorial on how to clean the belly pan on a sled:
A belly pan is a large plastic body part mounted on the front bottom of snowmobiles. In a nutshell, the main advantages of having a belly pan on your sled are as follows:
- Prevents snow build-ups inside the chassis.
- Protects the front parts of the sled from hitting stumps, rocks, and other objects.
- Increases floatation in deep snow.
- Gives the sled a customized look.
As you can see, having a belly pan on your snowmobile is a great idea, especially if you regularly ride off-trail!