How Long Should You Let a Snowmobile Warm Up? [Video]

According to major manufacturers, snowmobiles should be warmed up for at least 3-5 minutes. If your sled has a coolant indicator gauge, this can tell you what the engine temperature is. Beyond the engine, don’t forget that you should also warm up the drive belt and the track as well!

If you want to learn how to properly warm up your snowmobile, this post is for you.

No fluff, no affiliate links, just the manufacturers’ official recommendations!

How to Warm Up a Snowmobile Engine

To properly warm up a snowmobile engine you should start the engine and let it idle for at least 3-5 minutes.  Although this is the official recommended timeframe of most manufacturers, if the weather is extremely cold, many owners warm their sleds up longer, about 5-10 minutes.

One clue that your snowmobile’s engine has already warmed up is if the idle RPM drops from a cold idle RPM of around 3000 to a warm idle RPM, which is usually about 1,500-1,800.

Aside from a lower RRM, the engine should run smoothly once it has warmed up.

Many sleds feature a coolant temperature indicator light, which goes out once your engine reaches the ideal temperature.

If your sled isn’t equipped with this gauge, you can also check the temperature of the heat exchanger. If it’s warm to the touch, this usually means the engine has already warmed up. Unfortunately, you can’t apply this trick on fan-cooled engines.

It’s also good to know that during this initial warming up procedure, the components of the engine warm up very well, but not completely!

Because of this, manufacturers recommend that you operate your sled at lower speeds for the first couple of minutes. Keeping safety in mind, you may want to avoid hammering the throttle in the first 10-15 minutes. After this, all of the engine components will have warmed up properly, and you can operate your sled at faster speeds.

Beyond the engine, it’s essential that you also warm up your snowmobile’s track, drive belt, and clutches before every ride.

Let’s see how to do this!

Warming Up a Snowmobile’s Track and Drive Belt

It is critical that you warm up your snowmobile’s track and drive belt, especially if the temperature is extremely low and your sled was stored outside.

Let’s see what the recommended procedure is for warming up a snowmobile track:

1. Get rid of ice and snow build-up: If your sled was stored outside uncovered, you may want to first remove the snow and ice build-up from the track. To free a frozen track and remove the build-up, lift the rear of the sled around 10 inches off the ground and then bounce it on the ground a couple of times. It’s also wise to move the skis side-to-side by hand, as they are also prone to getting stuck in the snow. Beware that skipping these steps can easily lead to a burned drive belt!

2. Lubricate the track: It’s highly recommended that you do not rotate the track if it’s dry. Therefore, before you start warming up the track you have to lubricate it with snow or some water.

3. Use a snowmobile stand: Lift the rear of the sled by using an appropriate snowmobile stand.

Make sure that it securely supports the rear at the rear bumper and the track is at least 4 inches off the ground.

4. Warming up the engine: Let the engine run at idle at least 3-5 minutes. Never use too much throttle when you are warming up the engine or the track.

5. Rotating the track: Once the engine has warmed up, hit the throttle a little, and let the track rotate for a couple of turns at low speed. As a rule of thumb, the lower the temperature, the longer you have to warm up the track.

6. Finish the procedure: Finally, you have to apply the brakes, turn the engine off, and lower the sled from the stand.

The additional benefit of warming up a snowmobile track is that other key parts like the drive belt and the whole driveline are also warmed up.

The drive belt can be damaged in many ways due to the lack of a warm-up, which is why it’s critical to warm up not just the engine but these other parts as well!

Moreover, some manufacturers recommend that the drive belt be taken off and warmed up if the temperature is extremely low. Even if this is the best practice for keeping the belt in safe, let’s face it, it means a lot of hassle. Therefore, this is not a common practice among sledders.

Why it is Important to Warm Up a Snowmobile?

Are you wondering why it is important to warm up a snowmobile?

As various parts of the engine are usually made of different materials, they expand and heat up at varying degrees. For example, the aluminum pistons will warm up faster than the steel cylinders.

If you start riding your sled with a cold engine, it may end in a “cold seize.” This means the piston will get scratched by the cylinder, which results in lower compression and engine lifetime.

In a worst-case scenario, the pistons will need to be replaced because of extensive damage.

Beyond the engine, the drive belt and the track can also be damaged if you don’t thoroughly warm up the snowmobile.

Because of these risks, some newer sleds limit their performance electronically until their engines are properly warmed up. But never rely on this safety feature and carefully warm your snowmobile up before every ride!

How to Keep Your Snowmobile Warm

If you want the best for your sled, try to keep it warm between rides. This not only leads to a longer engine life, but it also means easier starts.

Let’s see what the best tricks are to keep a snowmobile warm!

  • Try to avoid outside storage
  • Store the sled in a shed or a garage (heated garage is the best option)
  • If it’s not possible, store it in an enclosed trailer
  • If you store it outside, always put a cover on
  • Consider investing in an engine warmer


Warming up a snowmobile is critical before every ride, which is why it’s considered to be one of the key steps of the pre-ride procedure.

Don’t forget that overlooked or improper warming-up can lead to several types of damage and a shorter engine life!

The general rule is to run the engine at idle for at least 3-5 minutes, or even longer if the temperature is extremely low. However, it does not make sense to run the engine longer than 10 minutes.

This doesn’t just cause wasted time and gas, but a risk of fouling the spark plugs if the sled is a 2-stroke.

You also need to pay attention to the engine’s RPMs. It should drop from the cold idle to around 1,500-1,800 RPMs if the engine is warmed up. If your sled continuously runs at higher RPMs, it probably means you have to adjust the carbs, or your engine has other issues.

If you have a newer sled, it probably features a temp gauge for your convenience. If the coolant temperature indication light is on, this means the engine hasn’t reached the required temperature.

Beyond the engine, the drive belt, clutches, and the track also need to be warmed up.

To do this, first remove the buildup of snow and ice from the track. Then, lift the rear of the sled with a snowmobile stand, and rotate the track slowly for a couple of turns. Make sure that the track is not dry before warming it up. If it’s dry, lubricate it with some water or snow to avoid causing damage.

It’s also a good idea to keep a snowmobile warmer. Best practice is to store it in a heated garage during the season. If it’s not possible, try to store your sled in a shed or an enclosed trailer.

If there is no other way than storing it outside, you may want to cover it carefully. This way, you don’t have to dig your sled out before every ride.

This is our short guide on how to warm up a snowmobile. We hope you find it useful!

(Disclaimer: Beyond these general recommendations, always check your sled’s manual for further guidance!)


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