How to Prep Your Snowmobile for a Safe and Fun Winter
When the weather outside is frightful, it’s playtime for snowmobile enthusiasts. Before winter gets here, if you know how to prep your snowmobile, you’ll be blasting trails and cruising tours like no tomorrow. As the word “prep” indicates to most people, prepping your snowmobile should have already started, even if the snow hasn’t hit the ground yet.
It makes sense that you should “check everything” before you head out on the trails or the lake this winter, but the top three things that you should include as part of your winter snowmobile prep regimen would be:
1. Mouse Hunt
Given that you probably haven’t moved your snowmobile in several months, make sure that you give your ride a thorough inspection. An unmoved snowmobile is prime real estate for growing mouse families, and intake and exhaust systems are the penthouses. Use a shop vacuum to suss out any nesting materials and squatters.
Then at the end of the season, stuff steel wool into the intake and exhaust (mice hate that stuff) to prevent future four-legged invasions. Just don’t forget to remove it before trying to start the engine again next year.
2. Fuel and Fluids
If you didn’t drain the tank before you put your snowmobile away at the end of last season, and you didn’t put fuel stabilizer in it, chances are that the fuel won’t do you very good this season. Drain the tank and top off with fresh fuel. Consider cleaning the carburetor, which take just a few minutes with some basic hand tools and a can of carb cleaner, and top off coolant, brake fluid and oil.
3. Driveline and Skis
Check the drive belt for wear and dry rot. Replace if necessary, or carry a spare. Change any worn or broken idler wheels. Lube all moving parts, but don’t overdo it, as blown-out seals can allow salt and sand access to vital parts. Make sure skis are in good condition, as holes and gouges can be very unsafe, and straighten or replace bent runners.
Don’t Forget to Personal Prep
We’ve covered how to prep your snowmobile, but what about the rider? Of course, you should always dress properly and be mindful of the weather forecasts for your area.
Here are the top three things you should do to prepare yourself:
1. Route Planning
Always have detailed trail maps, and know your own pace and equipment limitations well. This will dictate how far you can go in a certain period. You should always prepare for the unexpected, so you should have back up plans in place each time you go out.
2. Hey, Buddy!
Riding is always better with friends. Not only can you share the experience, but they can help if something goes wrong. Make sure everyone knows the pace and plan, not only within your group, but also someone who’s at home, in case of emergency.
3. Emergency Gear
Always have an emergency kit on hand, which should include a first aid kit, blanket, trail mix, tool kit, spare parts, flares, compact shovel and fire-starting gear. A GPS unit can be especially useful for route planning, as well as to notify emergency responders of your exact location.
Now you’re ready to play in the snow!
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Photo courtesy of Foter