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Get your snowmobile ready for winter!

snowmobile clutchSnowmobile season is almost upon us. If you bought a new sled for this winter, congratulations! But if you are like most riders, you’ll head into winter with used iron.

From experience, taking care of my snowmobile in the pre-season is key to having a reliable ride in the winter. Unless you are a snowmobile mechanic, I recommend that you bring your snowmobile to a reputable dealer for the pre-season work. Today’s snowmobiles are sophisticated and complex machinery.

Even if you are not a snowmobile mechanic, there are plenty of things you can check to help your dealer or repair shop get your snowmobile ready for winter!

Things I check for on my snowmobile:

Rear Suspension

  • Cracks in the skid frame
  • Cracked suspension arms and springs
  • Loose nuts and/or broken bolts
  • Wheels that are stuck or have excessive wobble
  • Make sure the drive axle and sprocket assembly is secure.
  • Excessively worn slides
  • Heavy rust
  • Failed shocks

The rear suspension takes the lion’s share of abuse on your snowmobile. This is one of the most likely places for your snowmobile to fail! Lift your snowmobile on a jack stand and go through it with a fine toothed comb. I use a flashlight and mirror for the hard to see places. While you’re down there, make sure the tunnel isn’t warped or cracked. If your snowmobile is studded, check the tunnel and heat exchanger for damage.

Track

  • Deep cracks and rips (some cracking is normal with advanced age)
  • Dry rot
  • Torn lugs
  • Loose or missing studs
  • Bent and/or missing track clips

The track also takes major abuse, so you’ll want to examine it closely. Loose studs can break free from the track and puncture the heat exchanger. Bent track clips can slice through your slides like a hot knife through butter.

Front Suspension

  • Wobbly ball joints
  • Excessively worn or broken carbides
  • Cracked suspension arms and springs
  • Worn spindle bushings
  • Excessively worn skis and carbides. You’ll need to check the skis from underneath by tipping your snowmobile to one side. Be careful not to lift up too far and overturn your sled! It would be a good idea to enlist a helper.
  • Heavy rust
  • Failed shocks

Engine Compartment

  • Fluid leaks (oil, coolant, brake)
  • Excessively worn drive belt
  • Cracked or broken engine mounts
  • Corrosion on the clutches
  • Heavy rust

Tell your dealer of all problems that you find, even things that you are unsure about. When you go to the doctor for a routine examination, you would tell him about any problems that your body is having. You should do the same for your snowmobile when you take it to your dealer! If you take care of your sled BEFORE winter, your sled should take care of you ALL winter. Get an estimate from your dealer prior to any work. That will help you decide whether it will be worth the money required to get your snowmobile ready for winter.

Further tips to get your ride ready for winter:

  • Get friendly with your dealer or repair shop. That way, you will become a valued customer rather than just a number.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to get your snowmobile to the shop. Get your sled there as soon as you can to ensure they will have it ready before the season starts.

Comments welcomed!

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