If you are one of the many that dumped your snowmobile in a corner of the garage and walked away for the summer, you have some work to do. Not to worry, your sled can be saved from a lack of off-season storage prep, but it will take a bit of work now to make your riding season fun and uneventful. Take a look as we cover how to get your snowmobile ready for winter and back on the snow.
Prepare For Winter Use
First, while it’s still warm outside, thoroughly wash your machine. This helps it look nice, but more importantly gets you up close and personal with any defects or damage. While scrubbing, take a look at the suspension, drivetrain, and skis. Look for rust on the frame, check the clutch for corrosion, and look for cracks in the body. Also check to make sure no rodents made a home in your intake or exhaust. A detailed cleaning will provide a nicer running machine, but also give you an idea of the machine’s true condition.
Once it is clean, it’s time for a full tune up.
- Replace engine and transmission oil, and the brake fluid.
- Swap the filters as well and look at the plugs to see if they need replacing. At $2 each, it’s probably worth it.
- Drain the old fuel and replace with fresh gas with the proper octane rating. Try to find ethanol-free.
- Put the battery on a trickle charger and let it sit overnight. Check it with a voltage meter and replace if it reads low.
- Check all lighting, and replace burned out bulbs.
- Check the pull start cord, and pay the five bucks for a new one if it is frayed.
Then it’s on to the suspension. Check the shocks, looking for rust, or evidence of a leak. Swap them if you see any damage, as they are affordable, easy to swap, and are critical for safe riding. Check the springs for rust or cracks and swap in an upgraded set if you see anything questionable.
Out back, exam the sprocket assembly as well as the drive axle to make sure they are secure, keeping an eye out for slides that are worn out. Check missing track clips and tears, replacing the entire track if its damaged at all. Do it, as it’s much easier in a warm garage than out on a frozen trail. If the drive belts are damaged or worn, replace them, but remember to keep a spare with you when you ride.
Start It Up
Use carb cleaner before starting, as it will clear out any leftover residue. Fire up and let it warm to operating temps and take a quick test run. Make sure it accelerates, turns, and stops like it should. Take a few bumps, noticing how the sled handles and sounds. If everything looks good, you should be all set.
Keep in mind, doing a storage prep in the spring will make the beginning of riding season much easier on you and your snow machine. At the end of this season, do the proper maintenance so you won’t be stuck in the garage while everyone else is out riding.