Sled Maintenance/Tips

January 2020 Feature Bryan Rudy Web Exclusive

The snowmobile season is well underway in many parts of the snowbelt and sledders are already out dialing up miles and riding the steep and deep.

You’re ready but what about your snowmobile. Here are a few things to pay attention to before you hit the snow.

Not so much a maintenance tip, but I make sure my helmet is not expired. Before protecting our machines, we need to protect ourselves for the unthinkable. I typically use a Snell rated helmet which is dated with an expiration year typically on the back of the helmet. This is something easy to overlook.

Now for the snowmobile there are lots of things to check from greaseable components, wear points, oil, adjustments and packing the right tools when you hit the trail.

Points Of Maintenance

  • Check the spark plugs to make sure they also do’t have any loose wires that can pop off while riding.
  • Inspect the brakes.
  • Do the headlights, taillights and brake light work?
  • Chaincase lube and setting chain tension.
  • Check the clutch to make sure the area around the belt isn’t glazed. If so clean it up so the clutch can grab the belt. Also don’t forget to check the belt and its condition. Always carry a spare for the trail and the tools to change it on the fly.
  • Check the exhaust for signs of leaks (blackening around the gaskets). Make sure springs holding connection points have tension and are not rusted out.
  • Grease/lube all suspension points and movable components as recommended by the owner’s manual. Remember to use a low temp grease.
  • Check the pedals on the reed cages (on 2-strokes).
  • Make sure front skis and steering is aligned and that there is no unnecessary play in the steering.
  • Check the carbides on the wear bars under the skis. Replace if they are chipped out or almost gone. This is super important for safety and handling. They can wear out pretty quickly if you are riding on rocky trails or crossing lots of snow plowed roads.
  • Check struts. They can leak and internals over time do have to be serviced.
  • Check fluid levels and top off in accordance to owner’s manual.
  • Inspect hyfax/slides. They are the plastic looking guides that the track slides on. These do wear out and need replacing. There is usually a wear indicator line on them.
  • Inspect wheels and bearings for damage.
  • Go over every visible bolt possible. Seriously these things endure a lot of vibration. And they can loosen up over time. Be safe and check everything you can.

Always bring tow straps and the proper tools for your sled when out and enjoying the trails. Even the best maintained machine can run into problems and the last thing you want to be is stranded in the cold.

While we’re still in the middle of the riding season, plan ahead when it is finally time to put your sled away for the summer.

Storage

I typically recommend draining or siphoning any fuel or running the machine out of fuel to get everything out of the tank and lines. Fuel stabilizer can work but I found it best to start with fresh fuel for the new season. It’s also a good time to check fuel lines and oiling lines (in 2 strokes). Putting away the machine with leaks can eat away at surrounding rubber and materials susceptible to breaking down like engine mounts and gaskets. The lines tend to eventually break (especially on older 2 strokes) at their connection points. I like to change them every few seasons as preventative maintenance.

(Rudy is the vendor relations manager of POWERSPORTSiD.com. For more information, visit the website listed.)

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