Seasonal Snowmobile Maintenance Tips

The Importance Of Snowmobile Maintenance

There are plenty of fun things that you can do during the winter. You can play outdoor hockey, defeat your kids in a snowball fight, and go for a spin on your snowmobile.

However, equipment like snowmobiles don’t maintain themselves. If something is wrong with the engine, skis, or steering, you might not be able to use your vehicle. Worse, it might seem usable on the surface, but something wrong could cause safety concerns for you or those around you. Luckily, we have provided snowmobile maintenance tips to help you keep your machine running.

Keep The Owner's Manual In Mind

While the owner's manual might seem very basic, especially if this isn't your first snowmobile, it can contain vital information on snowmobile maintenance, especially if you have a specialized model. It's best not to assume you know everything. While there's no need to memorize the entire booklet word for word as you've probably done with your favourite song, it's best to know the general ins and outs of your vehicle and which section to consult if you have any questions about snowmobile maintenance down the road.

Pre-Season Snowmobile Maintenance

It might be tempting to jump out with your snowmobile and start riding when you get a few centimetres of snow. After all, you've been waiting for this since last year, and the feeling of exploring your favourite nearby terrain can be an absolute rush. However, heading out before you've done any snowmobile maintenance is a mistake. Remember, this vehicle has probably been sitting in a garage, shed, or other storage facility for at least 7 or 8 months. Since many parts tend to wear down even if they're not being used, it's important that you perform a handful of snowmobile maintenance tasks before you hit the snow.

Luckily, if you want to get out that badly and are willing to put in some early work, you can get ahead of the game. If you're a go-getter, you can do pre-season snowmobile maintenance a week or so before the first snowfall hits. If that's the case, feel free to jump aboard and go for a ride as soon as the ground is white.

Ensure The Skis Are In Good Condition

You wouldn't go out and ski with broken skis, and you shouldn't treat your snowmobile any differently. Your snowmobile's skis should be smooth to the touch. If your skis are worn out, chipped, or have any other signs of damage, you will need to replace them. 

A critical part of snowmobile maintenance is to make sure that your skis are appropriately aligned. Each model will have slightly different requirements for the precise ski alignment that will make it click, so make sure you're familiar with your particular model.  

Make Sure The Lights Work

Even though you're probably not afraid of the dark, an important part of snowmobile maintenance is to ensure your lights work. There might be an obstacle like a jagged rock or thick branch that might not stand out in the shadows, and you'd see much easier if you literally shed some light on it. It also ensures that other people can see you, which is a significant component of safety. While testing your lights in the day might not seem practical, you can easily take your snowmobile to the garage or other dark place and turn the lights on to test them out.

Check Your Filters

Your filters help prevent debris from entering vital parts of your snowmobile. Your fuel filter helps keep your tank clean, while your air filter prevents your engine from clogging. Either of these can impact fuel efficiency, the engine's durability, and more. Usually, replacing both of these once per year is enough, so making it part of your pre-season snowmobile maintenance checklist is a good idea. However, some models may require you to do so more often, and if so, your owner's manual will likely let you know.

Check the Engine

Like any other vehicle, maintaining the engine is vital to snowmobile maintenance. Any machine is vulnerable to rust or pieces becoming too worn. If you're unsure whether a part needs to be replaced, it's best to play it safe and replace it. 

Check Your Battery

This is a step in snowmobile maintenance that you should do not only during the pre-season but also something you should do during the off-season. Things such as grime or corrosion can steadily build up over a handful of months, and giving it the spring, fall and summer months to wear away could mean your first spin in December gets delayed.

Cleaning your battery a couple of times in the off-season is recommended. Removing and storing the battery in a cool, dry area during the off-season is also a very important step in snowmobile maintenance as it ensures the battery doesn't die in the off-season. During both storage and the start of the season, you should also charge your snowmobile battery. This can be done the same way you charge a car battery. A poorly maintained battery might not last a second season and may need immediate replacement. However, a well-maintained battery can keep going and going for years.

It is also recommended that you also remove your drive belt during the warmer months.

Check And Replace Your Spark Plugs

You might forget that these little things are there, but they're vital to any vehicle's functioning. Replacing and checking your spark plugs is a huge part of snowmobile maintenance, and should be done cautiously and with the consultation of either the owner's manual or some other specialized guide, as not everyone knows how to do this critical step.

Get A Tune-Up

If you're uncomfortable with changing your spark plugs or doing any of the other snowmobile maintenance steps mentioned above, you can always take your vehicle to a pro. This also applies to any steps outlined in your owner's manual that aren't mentioned here. If you want to play it safe and ensure that any little thing that might have slipped by you doesn't catch you off guard later, professional repairs and tune-ups also won't go amiss. 

Ensure Your Snowmobile Insurance Has Been Updated

Once your snowmobile is ready for the snow, making sure you are insured to use your snowmobile is vital. Make sure you're snowmobile insurance has not only been updated, but that you are carrying a copy of your insurance with you while using the snowmobile. If you need to update your insurance coverage or need a snowmobile insurance quote, speak to the expert brokers at Morison Insurance for more information.

In-Season Snowmobile Maintenance

Snowmobile maintenance continues after you give the vehicle a check-up at the start of the winter season. You also need to provide regular snowmobile maintenance throughout the season. Complete and proper care likely won't require a full inspection before each ride, but you should still ensure everything is running correctly. 

Check For Obvious Physical Damage

This is probably the easiest to do since you're almost certain to notice significant damage without looking for it. Simply put, if you see large cracks, dents, leaks or anything else that stands out like a sore thumb, you should avoid getting on your snowmobile and instead get it fixed immediately.

Change Oil And Brake Fluid

Similar to how a car would require these to be changed occasionally, making sure these are changed now and then is just part of essential snowmobile maintenance. Your owner's manual should outline a general rule of thumb regarding how often your engine oil and brake fluid should be changed, usually in an amount of overall time or an estimated number of ridden miles. If you are approaching or exceeding these amounts, or if these fluids need changing upon inspection, you should take the time to change them.

Make Sure The Tracks Are In Good Condition

A working engine will only do you good if your tracks can push you forward. A vital piece of snowmobile maintenance is ensuring the tracks are in working order. If they appear to be ripped, torn or are starting to either thin, fall off or show signs of wear, you should find some replacements to ensure that they don't cause problems for you down the road.

Double Check Your Brakes

As much as it sounds like a fun idea to use "I literally can't stop" as an excuse to never stop snowmobiling, not having brakes has very obvious downsides. Ensuring that all of your brake components work does more than keep your snowmobile safe; it keeps you and those around you safe as well. For this reason, you'll want to keep a close eye on even anything that could indicate a brake problem and get it looked at as soon as possible.

Check Suspension

Plenty of riders either don't understand or completely disregard the suspension of a snowmobile. This is understandable, given that it's both one of the more complicated aspects of the vehicle and one that's usually pretty stable, meaning that it's easy to take for granted. However, keeping it functioning is a vital part of snowmobile maintenance.

Usually, your purchase from the snowmobile dealer, unless you get a custom job of some sort, is set up for the average person to ensure that it's 'close enough' for most of the population. However, not everyone's size and build fits this mould. Also, sometimes the suspension can change ever so slightly due to wear and tear, and this happening over several years can leave a snowmobile that was once perfect for you to start behaving a little funny. Since there are so many settings that go with each suspension, and each make of snowmobile is different, you will want to consult your owner's manual to ensure that you've made the adjustments properly.

Inspect the Belt, Shocks and Clutches

Similarly to suspension, these are parts that many users take for granted and might appear complex. For those unaware, a drive belt takes power from your engine and transfers it to the track, shocks work with your suspension to allow your ride height to remain constant, and your clutches are similar to an automatic car's transmission. Although you don't need to be an expert mechanic to be able to adjust all of these, you do require some degree of knowledge and should avoid winging it.

Check That Your Handlebars And Steering Work Properly

Although it's improbable that you'll ever be stuck in a situation where you're going to be completely unable to steer, even a minor hiccup in steering can lead to big problems. After all, one of the best things about snowmobiles is how maneuverable they are. This makes checking your steering an essential step in snowmobile maintenance.

A quick test of your handlebars when stationary can often indicate if something is wrong with your vehicle. 

Have Fun

Even though snowmobile maintenance is a lot of work, you can’t deny that it’s worth it. Getting to ride in your favourite snow vehicle for a few months, while speeding by snow-covered terrain is certainly a fun time. Once you’ve made sure everything’s in working order, you can be confident in your snowmobile’s ability to make a bunch of fun memories for you.

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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