Snowmobile 101 - Maintaining and Preparing your Snowmobile

Wintertime is primetime for snowmobiling, but unless you have a brand new snowmobile, you can't just go out immediately after the first snow. Maintaining your snowmobile during the off-season and preparing it for the winter season is essential to ensure you stay safe while zipping around in the snow. Read on for important tips on maintaining and preparing your snowmobile for the winter.

Maintaining Your Snowmobile

Once the last snow of the year has melted and you can no longer take your snowmobile out for some fun, it's time to immediately start your maintenance to make sure it doesn't suffer any long lasting effects after sitting for several months. Clean your snowmobile of any mud, dirt, salt, dirt or leaves using a sponge and soapy water. The seat can be cleaned with upholstery cleaner. Perform an inspection of the outside, checking for any cracks, deteriorated windshield fasteners, rusty hood latches, peeling decals or nicks and tears in the seat cover.

Decals can usually be re-glued using emblem adhesive, but cracks in the hood will need more extensive repair. If there are extensive tears on the seat cover, repairs may not take; in this situation, completely replacing the seat cover is generally the most efficient way to protect the seat foam before it deteriorates.

Next, check the snowmobile's track for tears or missing clips and lugs; check the rear suspension and sliders for any extensive wear and tear or damage. Worn sliders and bent or broken suspension parts should all be replaced. Tears in the track are not fixable. If you don't replace a torn track it will break down and leave you stuck out in the snow.

Check your snowmobile's skis and runners for wear and tear, worn out areas with holes, scratches, gouges or areas that are bent out of shape. If a runner is still in good shape, but is bent, you can try to straighten it out with a hammer. Otherwise, bent or worn out skis and runners should be replaced with aftermarket or OEM parts.

After your exterior inspection, open the hood and check the drive belt, fan, water belt and fluid levels. Replace worn or damaged drive belts, and ensure that you still have a spare belt.

Water pump belts should not be shiny or glazed as this indicates slipping and incorrect tension. If any fluid levels are low, you should determine the reason in order to avoid any problems while riding. Your coolant should be filled to the cold mark, and your snowmobile's owner's manual will provide the correct oil level.

Check your throttle and oil cables for damage or fraying. If any cables or lines are not held securely in place you should have missing fasteners replaced. Last but not least, replace any of the mounts or springs that are worn or missing.

Preparing Your Snowmobile for Riding

You performed all of the above maintenance tips before you stored your snowmobile away for the off-season, and now it's almost time to ride again! Nine months of storage can really dry a snowmobile out, however. So before you trade in your motorcycle accessories for your snowmobile accessories, you need to do some preparation.

Check your owner's manual for the lubrication points on your snowmobile and lubricate as indicated using a grease gun. If there is any gas left in the tank from last season it will be very poor quality at this point, so drain any remaining gas before adding new gasoline. If necessary, add more coolant, brake fluid, or oil, and check your carburetor to ensure it's clean. One of the main causes of engine failure in snowmobiles is a dirty carburetor, so if your carb is dirty, clean it.

If you blocked off the exhaust and/or air intake to prevent rodents from nesting in your machine in storage, be sure to remove any cloths or plugs. Recheck all belts, cables and lines, and ensure the sparkplugs are oiled and cleaned.

Your snowmobile can give you a winter full of fun and enjoyment as long as you keep it in prime working order. By following these snowmobile maintenance steps you can ensure your beloved machine is always ready to ride.

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