Pre-season prep—Part 2: Your snowmobile

A DIY guide to performing a preseason snowmobile maintenance check

by Matthew Mallory

Mechanic working on a snowmobile.
Now's the time to inspect your snowmobile, especially if you happen to find problems that need to be fixed by a mechanic. Matthew Mallory photo

We stopped by Revolution Powersports in Whistler, B.C., and talked to owner/tuner Felix-Antoine Savard about what you should be doing for a pre-season check on your sled. Now, there are some OCD people out there who do all their sled maintenance when they put it away, and then there is the majority of us. Now is the time to check the sled over and make sure it’s ready to go, especially if you end up finding some work that needs to be done.

Most of the info below is stuff that should be done whether your sled is only a season old or 10, though there are a few things we will touch on that are just for the old iron riders.

Visual inspection

It’s good to start by giving the sled a visual inspection. Look for cracks in the panels that need repair, tears in the seat and big dents in the tunnel. Then, lift the rear end up or roll the sled over and spin the track around. Look for tears, rips and missing paddles; unfortunately, if you find any of these, it could mean the replacing of a track. While it’s upside down, it’s also a good time to check the hyfax for wear and the ski runners. If they are ground thin or twisted up, again, it might be time to replace them. While going through the visuals, check the A-arms and ski bushings for play.

Keeping up with the visual theme . . . check the throttle cable for fraying, make sure the brake fluid reservoir is topped up (older sleds could use new brake fluid and a bleed), check your belt, give it a clean in warm soapy water and adjust the deflection. Look at your air intake covers and ensure there are no tears. The same goes for the airbox: take a good look and make sure there are no cracks. The last thing you want is moisture getting down into the motor.

Brakes, clutch, chaincase and spark plugs

Some of this will take a few tools . . . pop off your brake cover if need be and check your brake pads and rotors. It’s something many don’t worry about, but if they’re worn down to metal on metal, the excessive heat generated can cause fires to start. A clutch clean should be a given if you didn’t do it at the end of the season, and check your chaincase tension. It’s best to pop the cover off, visually inspect the chain tension and check for broken or damaged links. This is also the time to change the oil in there. Pop out the old spark plugs and put in some new ones. Whether needed or not, plugs are a cheap way to keep the engine purring.

Finally, hit all the grease points, charge up the battery if you have one and you should be good to go. If you need any information, torque specs, track tension numbers, etc., all should be found in your owner's manual.

If your machine is quite old or very high mileage, then it’s probably a good idea to clean the exhaust valves, throttle body and injectors. These are a little more involved jobs that may require a mechanic’s help. It’s also a good idea to have it hooked up to a shop computer for a diagnostic scan.

Your Gear is the next area of interest on our pre-season prep. 

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