How do You Maintain a Snowmobile? [Maintenance Checklist!]


Appropriate snowmobile maintenance is much more than preparing the sled for the next season. To properly maintain your snowmobile, you must not overlook the pre-ride checklist, or after-ride care either. Additionally, every sled requires mid-season and end-season maintenance as well, known as summarizing. It seems there is always something to do on a snowmobile! If you want to learn more about these required maintenance tasks, you are in the right place.

We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled every important step into one snowmobile maintenance checklist!

How do You Maintain a Snowmobile?

To keep your sled in good shape year-round and ensure trouble-free miles, you have to follow the regular maintenance steps recommended by your sled’s manufacturer.

Keep in mind that a snowmobile’s design, engine, and features may vary from one model to the next. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you carefully check your sled’s manual before you do any maintenance on your sled. Manuals usually feature very detailed maintenance guides, describing the necessary tools and materials.

We’ve done the research and have compiled the most commonly required maintenance steps on snowmobiles under one roof. This could be a good starting point for you, but again, for the exact steps please check the manual!

Pre-Ride and After Ride Check

Pre-Ride Check

The pre-ride check is one of the most important maintenance tasks on every snowmobile. Unfortunately, many riders miss it, which often results in damage or even accidents!

Thus, you may want to start every ride with proceeding with the pre-operation check. This is also known as the pre-ride inspection and usually means inspecting the following parts:

Besides checking these parts, if you store your sled outside you have to release the skis and the track if they are frozen.

Additionally, always carefully warm up the sled (not just the engine!) before even loading the sled on the trailer. Lack of or improper warm-ups often leads to broken belts or other internal damage.

Beyond the initial inspection, it’s also wise to clean and check the sled after each ride. Let’s see why this is necessary!

After Ride Care

The after-ride care on a snowmobile is probably the most overlooked type of maintenance. But if you are a responsible owner, you must take care of your sled after each ride!

First, start with a thorough cleaning to remove any debris, dirt, and salt buildup. Keeping your snowmobile clean is the most effective way to avoid rust.

After cleaning, you may want to give your sled a thorough inspection. Although manufacturers recommend checking sleds before operation, it makes sense to check key parts after rides as well. Why?

This is because if you notice something needs to be fixed or adjusted, you will have plenty of time to get it done before your next ride. You probably don’t want to spend your time adjusting the track alignment or drive belt tension when your riding buddies are waiting for you!

In a worst-case scenario, your sled has missing and broken parts that need to be fixed or replaced. These always require some time and replacement parts of course, which may need to be ordered.

That’s why you should check the sled immediately after your rides and perform the necessary maintenance tasks.  If you can only make time for this later, it’s still wise to do this a few days before your next trip.

It also makes the pre-ride check easier, since this way you will have to check much fewer parts then. (However, the pre-ride check can never be missed!)

Periodic Maintenance Tasks on Snowmobiles

The periodic maintenance on a snowmobile is broken down into these different parts:

  • Initial maintenance
  • Pre-season maintenance
  • Mid-season maintenance
  • Summerizing

Let’s take a closer look at them one-by-one!

Initial Maintenance

If you have a new sled, be prepared for the initial maintenance tasks. Simply put, this means your sled will require one or more inspections and some maintenance after about 150-300 miles, or a certain number of engine hours.

What’s more, some manufacturer’s maintenance schedules call for service and inspections after the first 500 and 1000 miles as well. The exact intervals vary by make and model, so don’t forget to check the manual for further information.

Keep in mind that these first maintenance tasks should be done by an authorized dealership to keep the warranty valid. Moreover, an inspection by a professional is the best way to make sure that everything on the snowmobile is working properly.

And finally, don’t forget to properly brake in your sled. This means besides the engine, you should also brake in the hyfax, track, drive belt, and many other key parts.

Mid-Season Maintenance

Contrary to popular belief, snowmobiles don’t just require maintenance once a year! To keep your sled in good shape at all times, you have to be prepared to perform some mid-season maintenance as well

On many sleds, certain parts require weekly inspection and maintenance (or after 150-200 miles), while others require them monthly (or 500 miles).  But again, the exact maintenance steps and intervals vary depending on the model.

Summerizing

When the season is over, it’s time to prepare your sled for the off-season. This is called “summarizing,” and the procedure usually includes adding fuel stabilizer to the gas (and running the engine after it!), fogging the engine, greasing the skid, and properly storing the sled.

Best practice is to start the engine at least once a month during the off-season. If this not possible, you may want to drain the carburetor and remove the drive belt as well. (For the exact steps refer to the manual.)

Mice and other rodents can also damage the sled during the summer, so some preventive steps are always recommended to stop them!

Yearly Maintenance

The greatest and most important maintenance on every snowmobile is arguably the yearly service.

This is usually required after 2000 miles, or once a year. This means if you ride your sled a lot, you may need to perform this maintenance step twice a year.

But as the average ridden miles on snowmobiles are around 1500 miles a year, the majority of sledders perform this extensive maintenance annually.

Manufacturers typically recommend getting this maintenance done just before the season. That’s why it’s called a pre-season maintenance as well.

Are you wondering what the most commonly required yearly maintenance steps are on a snowmobile?

For your convenience, we’ve compiled them into one ultimate maintenance checklist!

Snowmobile Maintenance Checklist

  • Change engine oil and filter (on 4-strokes)
  • Check oil line (on 2-strokes)
  • Check engine mounts and gaskets
  • Check the compression in each cylinder (especially on 2-strokes)
  • Check for oil and fluid leaks
  • Clean and adjust the carburetor (on 2-strokes)
  • Check the cooling system and the coolant level (on liquid-cooled sleds)
  • Check the fan belt and pulleys (on fan-cooled sleds)
  • Inspect and clean the clutches
  • Check the drive belt and set its tension
  • Grease shaft bearings (jackshaft, driveshaft)
  • Replace fuel filter and inspect the whole fuel line
  • Clean the air filter
  • Clean power valves
  • Change chaincase oil and set the chain tension
  • Inspect the throttle cable
  • Check brake condition (brake pads and disc, fluid level). Don’t forget the parking brake!
  • Check the skis and set alignment if needed
  • Sharpen or replace the carbides if they are worn out
  • Inspect steering and front suspensions
  • Check the track, set its tension and alignment
  • Check and lubricate the skid
  • Inspect the rear suspensions (and adjust if needed)
  • Inspect idler wheels (grease or replace the bearings)
  • Inspect the hyfax (sliders) and replace if needed
  • Inspect the sparks plugs
  • Inspect reed cages and petals
  • Charge and clean the battery (if equipped)
  • Check the lights and other electrical components
  • Check the starter cord (if equipped)
  • Test the cut-off switch
  • Check the exhaust pipe and muffler
  • Fix or replace all loose, missing, or damaged parts
  • Check for broken or loose nuts and bolts
  • Check the shell and the storage compartment
  • Inspect and clean the gear as well

Don’t forget the trailer, as this also requires yearly inspection and maintenance.

If you want to learn more about the maintenance of each part, don’t hesitate to click on the links in the list!

Why you Shouldn’t Overlook the Maintenance on Your Sled

Does the list above seem a little too precise?

At first glance, the number of required inspections and maintenance tasks may seem shocking. But manufacturers recommend them for good reason! (Note that the sources of this checklist are official owner’s manuals!)

Thus, if you want to give your sled the right care it’s recommended that you go through the whole list.

Overlooked or improper maintenance can easily lead to major damage or even accidents in the worst cases!

Some typical issues:

  • Improper clutch settings can damage the drive belt as well as many parts of the clutches within a short time.
  • Worn out idler wheel bearings often lead to track alignment, which may end in serious damage on it. And the tracks are not among the cheapest parts on any sled!
  • If you overlook the shaft bearing maintenance (i.e. jackshaft or driveshaft) it can also cause shaft misalignment, which can damage the clutch, the chaincase, or even the engine!
  • A small issue in the oil line (or lack of oil!) means an instant engine seizing on any 2-stroke sled.

As you can see, just a little carelessness can result in a lot of hassle and costly repairs. That’s why you have to keep your eye on your sled at all times.

Don’t forget, the more maintenance, the less chance of malfunctions and major damage!

For more snowmobile maintenance tips don’t miss this tutorial video:

Conclusion

Contrary to popular belief, maintaining a snowmobile doesn’t mean just one annual service. Instead, every sled requires continuous attention and care, even if it’s not cheap! As a takeaway, let’s see the typical maintenance schedule on a snowmobile:

  • Pre-ride check and warm-up: before each ride
  • After-ride care and cleaning: after each ride
  • Initial service(s): after a certain number of miles/engine hours
  • Mid-season maintenances: periodically, based on the ridden miles
  • Summerizing: preparing the sled for the off-season
  • Yearly maintenance: typically, after 2000 miles or once a year

Managing these maintenance tasks is easier when you take care of the major systems on the sled separately. Which are these?

By checking and maintaining each of these systems, you can make sure that your snowmobile is in “ready to go condition”!

It’s safe to say that maintenance is part of ownership. Even if you get the major services done by your dealer, you should check the sled after/before each ride to keep it in a good shape year-round.

So finally, how often should you do major maintenance on your snowmobile?

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer here, as it depends on many factors like your sled’s features, the ridden miles, or the riding conditions. What’s more, the required maintenance schedule and steps vary from one model to the next!

That’s why you should check the owner’s manual. Besides the schedule it describes all the tools and materials that you need for each maintenance task.

As a rule of thumb, you can’t go wrong if you clean and check your sled carefully after each ride. Fix or replace any broken parts immediately!

Beyond this basic care, always follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, which is clearly described in the manual.

Are you looking for more snowmobile maintenance tips? Don’t hesitate to read more in these articles below:

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