As a rule of thumb, most of today’s snowmobiles are available with an electric start as standard, while others have this as an option. Only the smallest, 120cc snowmobiles are offered exclusively with pull-start. Surprisingly, despite the convenience that the e-start provides, many riders stick to the proven pull-start system.
If you want to find out more about the electric start systems on snowmobiles, you are in the right place. We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all you need to know into this post!
Do Snowmobiles Have an Electric Start?
While an electric start is standard on many snowmobiles, this is still just an option on some models. Snowmobile electric start systems include a starter motor, battery, and cables, which cause a noticeable weight difference. But surprisingly, some sleds are still only available with a pull-start. It is usually the smallest kid-sized snowmobiles that lack this convenient feature.
To make starts easier, the electric start has been commonly used for a long time, especially on trail snowmobiles. Although these systems mean some additional weight, this is not an issue on a trail sled.
And let’s face it, pull-starting the big-bore trail snowmobile engines (especially 4-strokes) is not an easy task. Therefore, an electric start on these sleds is a must!
But when it comes to mountain snowmobiles, many of them are still available with a pull-start, and with good reason. On these sleds, low weight is a high priority, so manufacturers want to shave off as much weight on these machines as possible.
Also, small-bore youth snowmobiles typically come without an e-start, as pull-starting their small engines is very easy.
How does an Electric Start Work on Snowmobile?
The electric start on a snowmobile works pretty much the same as it does in a car. The heart of the system is the high-torque starter motor, which is attached to the crankshaft through the flywheel. When you turn the ignition and press the START button, the starter motor begins to turn the flywheel (and thus the crankshaft), allowing the engine to start.
Keeping safety in mind, the system contains a starter solenoid that works as an electric relay. This solenoid is inserted between the battery and the starter motor and activated by the START button.
Pressing the button allows the voltage from the battery to go through the system and activate the starter solenoid, which powers the starter motor.
The latter is hooked up to a flywheel, which is directly attached to the crankshaft. Therefore, when the starter motor is spinning, it’s turning the engine through the flywheel. The other key systems like ignition, fuel, and charging come to life and fire up the engine.
Can You Add an Electric Start to a Snowmobile?
Yes, the good news is that you can add an electric start to most snowmobiles. Even if your sled features only a pull-start, there is a good chance that you can simply bolt on the starter motor and battery without any significant modifications. However, best practice is to check your sled’s manual or consult with your dealer before taking the first steps.
On the other hand, keep in mind that installing an electric start on a snowmobile can be tricky in many ways as the process entails removing the primary clutch.
If you don’t have the necessary skills and experience, best practice is to leave this installation to a professional.
Snowmobile Electric Start Kits
If you want to add an e-start to your sled, you will need a “snowmobile electric start kit.” These kits include the starter motor with the solenoid, wiring, battery, ring gear, and the required mounting hardware.
Unfortunately, if the electric start wasn’t ordered with the machine from the factory, purchasing it separately can end up being very pricy. The prices of snowmobile electric start kits range from $500 up to $1,000, which doesn’t include labor charges.
How Much Weight Does an Electric Start Add to a Snowmobile?
As a rule of thumb, the electric start can add about 8-25 pounds of extra weight to a snowmobile. The importance of the kit you choose strongly depends on the weight of the battery. While regular batteries are significantly heavier, the innovative lithium batteries weigh as little as 2-4 pounds.
This means a snowmobile ES system with a regular battery leads to a weight gain of 20-25 pounds, while with a lithium battery, it only adds 8-12 pounds.
Unfortunately, snowmobile lithium batteries (like WPD, EarthX) come with hefty price tags and provide less performance at lower temps.
Can You Remove the Electric Start from a Snowmobile?
While many riders want to install an electric start on their sleds, others want to remove it to shave a couple of pounds off the weight.
If you’re considering removing the electric start from your snowmobile, keep in mind that some wires may not be removable. In most cases, you can pull out the battery, solenoid, starter motor, flywheel, and mounting hardware without any issues, but removing the cables on some sleds is hard and may even be impossible.
However, the weight of the cables is typically marginal, so you shouldn’t have to worry about them.
On the other hand, keep in mind that if your sled utilizes an EFI (electric fuel injected) engine, it probably needs a battery to energize the fuel delivery system. (Unless it’s a BEFI – batteryless fuel-injected machine, which can run without a battery.)
Also, if you want to use electronics like GPS, audio system, 12V outlets, or a heated visor, these systems require a power source.
If you want to remove the e-start on your sled to save on weight, you may want to consider replacing the battery instead. If you replace the stock battery with a lithium one, you can save about 10 pounds, which is almost half the total system!
Adding a Pull Start to a Snowmobile
If you want to remove the electric start, by all means don’t forget that you have to install a pull start on the engine. Snowmobile pull start kits typically cost about $100-$250, depending on the type of sled. Fortunately, they are available for most makes and models.
If you prefer a hidden look, you can simply keep the original side panel. When it comes to starting the sled, you can simply open the panel to access the starter.
But if you don’t want to open the panel all the time, you have to hack up your stock panel or replace it with a different one, including a cutout for the handle. If you choose the latter solution, you probably have to invest in a new set of decals to make your sled look stock.
It’s also a good idea to install a pull start kit on your snowmobile, even if you don’t remove the e-start. It works like insurance, and you never know when you will need it!
Sure, sleds can even be started with a simple rope wrapped around the clutch, but OEM pull-start kits always offer a safer and more reliable solution.
What is a Shot Starter on a Snowmobile?
What does SHOT Mean on a Snowmobile?
SHOT is an innovative snowmobile starting system introduced by Ski-Doo in 2018.
The key feature of the SHOT system is a capacitor that offers push-button starts without a battery. This revolutionary system is available exclusively on mountain Ski-Doo snowmobiles.
What is the Ski-Doo SHOT?
What is the Ski-Doo SHOT exactly? Simply put, it’s a unique electric staring system designed explicitly for Ski-Doo’s Rotax E-TEC engines. Unlike regular snowmobile e-start systems, the SHOT doesn’t utilize either a battery or a starter motor. Instead, it uses the magneto to start the engine!
The key advantage of the Ski-Doo SHOT electric start is that the entire system weighs only 2 pounds. In contrast, a regular electric start with a lead-acid battery weighs about 20-25 pounds (which can be reduced to about 8-12 pounds with a lithium battery).
Are you wondering how the Ski-Doo SHOT works? Keep reading!
How does the SHOT Work on a Ski-Doo?
Here’s how the Ski-Doo SHOT system works on a Ski-Doo:
- You have to pull-start the sled before the first ride.
- The system uses the engine magneto as a generator to charge up a lightweight capacitator.
- Therefore, if you stop your engine during your ride, you don’t have to pull-start it again.
- If you want to fire up the engine, you just have to press the SHOT button. This is where the magic happens!
- The electricity from the capacitator flows back to the magneto. It starts to act as a starter motor and spins the crankshaft.
- The engine fires up, and you are ready to go!
It also has to be mentioned that the capacitator is designed to hold a charge for about 30 minutes after shutting the engine off. However, there are rumors that it takes longer in most cases.
This innovative SHOT electric start system is a game-changer for mountain riders who usually have to restart their sleds several times a day!
Can You Add the SHOT Start to a Ski-Doo?
As reported by SuperTraxMax, the innovative SHOT system can’t be installed on older Ski-Doo models. This advanced feature is exclusively available as a factory option on Ski-Doo Summit mountain sleds.
Takeaways – FAQs About Snowmobile E-Starts
Do they make electric start snowmobiles?
Yes, an electric start is available on a majority of today’s snowmobiles as standard or an option.
Do all snowmobiles have a pull start?
No, unfortunately, not all snowmobiles come with a pull start from the factory. If a snowmobile is manufactured with an e-start, the pull-start is only available for it as an option in most cases.
Do pull-start snowmobiles have a battery?
Whether or not a pull start snowmobile contains a battery depends on its engine design. If it’s powered by a carbureted or a BEFI (batteryless fuel injected) engine, it can run without a battery. But if it has a regular EFI engine, it needs a battery to energize the fuel supply system.
What year did snowmobiles first come with electric start?
Electric starts on snowmobiles came out in the ‘60s. Vintage snowmobiles equipped with an electric start often featured an E or ES in their model names. In many cases, an electric start was available as a factory option.
How do you test a snowmobile starter motor?
If you want to install an electric starter motor, you may want to test it before you bolt it on.
You can test a snowmobile starter by putting it in a vise and attaching jumper cables to it. Be very careful as these starter motors have a lot of torque!
How do you test a snowmobile solenoid?
The best tool for testing a snowmobile solenoid is a regular voltmeter. However, you can also test the voltage at the signal wire with a test light.
Here’s a great video on how to test a snowmobile solenoid: