Snowmobile Maintenance: Preparing Your Machine For Winter
Snowmobile Maintenance: Preparing Your Machine For Winter

Snowmobile Maintenance: Preparing Your Machine For Winter

Before you take your snowmobile out for a spin this winter season, it is important to make sure it is ready for what you have in store. Some snowmobile owners recommend taking your machine in for service at the end of the season, rather when the season begins to make sure there are no long term effects from letting it sit for several months. Forget to do that last April? Not to worry. There are several things you can do to make sure your snowmobile works perfectly this winter.

Step I: Perform a thorough visual inspection of your snowmobile
Under good lighting, look over your machine for any loose parts, worn belts, an any other obvious stresses, buckling or cracks. Consult your owners manual to find the lubrication points on your snowmobile and lubricate as indicated using a grease gun. Just be sure to avoid adding too much grease during this process. It should just be visible outside the joint.

Step II: Add fresh fluids
If you had your snowmobile in storage with gas left in the tank, drain the tank before adding any fresh gasoline. Any gasoline left in the tank will be of poor quality after several months of sitting and could make your snowmobile run inefficiently. If necessary, add brake fluid; consult the lid of the master cylinder for the specific grade of fluid that should be used. Coolant should also be added up to the cold mark.

Step III: Unplug intakes
If you blocked off the air intake and exhaust apertures with a cloth or wooden plug to prevent rodents from nesting in your machine before storing your snowmobile at the end of last winter, make sure to remove these. 

Step IV: Replace sparkplugs
If you removed sparkplugs for cleaning or oiling at the end of last winter, be sure to replace these as well.

Step V: Clean the carburetor
The main cause of engine failure when snowmobiles are first taken out is a dirty carburetor. Cleaning it can be done with a can of carburetor cleaner and some basic tools. Check the throttle and oil cables for signs of damage. You should also check for cracks or damage in the fan or water pump belt, if your snowmobile has one.

Step VI: Evaluate the skis
The skis on your machine must be in good condition to avoid major problems and potential danger. If you have steel skis, make sure they dont have any holes. If you have plastic skis, check them for any deep gouges or cuts. Runners should also be checked. If a runner is slightly bent, it can be straightened by using a vice or by taking it in to a repair shop.

Step VII: Clean your snowmobile
Wash off any debris such as salt, dirt or leaves from your machine using a garden hose and a bucket of soapy water. The seat can be cleaned with upholstery cleaner. 

Your snowmobile can give you months of fun and enjoyment so long as it is in good working order. Following these steps is a simple way to ensure your machine is ready for a great winter season.

- Ben Anton, 2008

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