Snowmobile Repair Lesson: How Often Should You Get a Tune-Up?
There are more than 1.2 million snowmobiles registered in the United States and roughly 600,000 registered in Canada. Snowmobiling is a lot of fun, but it can be expensive if you don’t maintain your sled.
How often you need to maintain your snowmobile depends on how you use it, how old it is, and how you store it. Regular maintenance extends the life of your machine and also makes it safer to ride.
If you’re new to snowmobiling or if you need a refresher course, use this snowmobile repair guide to perform an inspection and safety check.
How Often Should I Perform Maintenance?
In general, you should perform maintenance on your snowmobile when you first get it, before you take it out for the season, and at least once during the season.
So where do you start and how much work do you need to do before the snow starts to fall? Start with the age of your machine.
Breaking In a New Snowmobile
For new sleds, consult your owner’s manual or contact the dealer. There might be a break-in procedure that you need to perform before you can ride. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean you don’t need to prepare your sled.
The dealer may have performed these jobs before selling it to you, but if not, it’s up to you.
First, make sure you add the right fuel and oil ratio to your tank. The exact ratio varies depending on your manufacturer, so consult your owner’s manual.
With that first tank of fuel, you’ll want to break in your engine. Vary your throttle positions but avoid leaving it in one position for too long.
Like the engine, you also need to break-in your belt. Vary your RPM but never hold the throttle wide open for any longer than 10 seconds. Doing this helps to stretch the belt, so it responds better to the throttle.
Lastly, you’ll need to prepare the brakes. Speeding up and then stopping without locking up the track burns off any factory oils left on your brakes. Do this for a few times to heat up the brake components.
Snowmobiles in Storage
Just like a car, if your snowmobile has been sitting around since last season, it’s time for some general maintenance. Proper snowmobile maintenance both before and during the winter season keeps your machine in top shape. This makes it safer for you to ride and also extends the life of your sled.
If you have an older snowmobile with 3,000 miles or more, it’s time for a more in-depth inspection. Both old and new snowmobiles benefit from a comprehensive maintenance inspection. Checking all the components of your sled ensures that your machine lasts longer.
The first place you should check for maintenance information is your owner’s manual. The manual should give you instructions on how to prepare your snowmobile for the winter season. Perform a check each year at least once before you use your snowmobile.
If you’re doing the inspection yourself, these are the basics you must check:
- Headlights and taillights
- Spark plugs
- Idler wheels and bearings
- Fluid levels
Ensure your snowmobile parts are properly lubricated and everything is in working order. This list covers a basic tune-up, but you should also perform regular maintenance before and during the season.
Performing Additional Maintenance
In addition to the list above, you should also perform the following jobs for optimal performance. In general, take a look at your sled every few rides and perform maintenance as needed if anything looks worn, broken, or dirty.
If you’re not comfortable performing these tasks yourself, you can take it to a maintenance and repair service instead.
Inspect Chaincase Lubrication
Over time, chaincase lube breaks down or becomes contaminated. For this reason, you must drain the oil and replace it. Newer snowmobiles have a drain plug, but some models have a chaincase cover.
On new sleds, you should do this after the first 100-300 miles. Otherwise, inspect or change your chaincase oil once a season.
Check and Set Chaincase Tension
Besides changing the oil, you should also check the chaincase tension. Your owner’s manual should instruct you on how to adjust your chain. Adjust it enough to reduce the slack but avoid over-tightening.
Clean the Belt and Clutches
Remove the belt cover and clean the clutch. A compressed air can is useful for removing light dust and debris on the belt.
Fraying cords or cracking indicate a bad belt. Belts usually last between 1,500-2,000 miles before they need replacing, depending on how well you care for your sled. Frequent check-ups and maintenance ensure belt longevity.
Inspect the Track
Check the track for any damage. The track on your snowmobile is a lot like tires on your car, and it will eventually need replacing.
The terrain you ride on impacts how often you may need to replace your track. Deep powder is easier on the machine, and rough terrain like gravel creates more wear and tear.
This is also an excellent time to check your track tension. Use a tension gauge and adjust it to the correct tension if necessary.
Look at the Hyfax and Wear Bars
From time to time, you should inspect your hyfax. This is the slippery surface on the bottom of suspension rails. Check for wear by looking for the wear limit line.
You should also check the wear bars underneath the skis. Wear bars are vital if you ride in low-snow areas common in the early season.
Before the season and at the end of the season, make sure to check your fluid levels. Top off any fluids to prevent corrosion and keep your sled in good shape.
How soon you need to change your fluids depends on how often you ride and the way you ride.
Keep a Snowmobile Repair and Maintenance Schedule
Regular inspection and maintenance both before the winter season and during ensure the safety and reliability of your machine. Keep a schedule so you can tell when you’ll need to repair or replace parts of your sled.
The manual is excellent for basic maintenance and check-ups, but if your machine needs more work, you can always take it in for service. Feel free to contact us with questions about parts or snowmobile repair and tune-ups.