No snowmobile track lasts forever, and depending on how and where you ride, you may have to replace the track on your machine sooner than expected. The tricky thing is that there’s no hard-and-fast guide to how many miles or how many seasons a track will last. You simply have to pay attention to your track’s condition and understand what it’s telling you. Take note of these four signs that your snowmobile track needs to be replaced:
1. Dry-Rotted Rubber
Ozone, a molecule found in the atmosphere, is the enemy of rubber, and unfortunately, exposure to the ultraviolet rays in sunlight only accelerates the weathering process of a snowmobile track. This is why it’s possible for a track to wear out if it’s been sitting outside without a snowmobile cover.
Ozone and ultraviolet damage is known as dry rot, and it looks like tiny cracks and stress marks on the surface of your rubber track. If your track show this kind of wear, chances are that it’s not strong enough to withstand regular use and should be replaced.
2. Missing Lugs
It sounds obvious, but if you’re missing lugs on your snowmobile track, it’s time to look for a replacement. Lugs can shear off for a variety of reasons, but they typically disappear after aggressive riding or when they come in contact with hard-packed snow, ice or exposed turf or rock. The biggest danger is that when lugs are ripped off the track, they can take a chunk of rubber with them, weakening the track itself. In a worst-case scenario, this can lead to a snapped track miles from home.
3. Missing Track Clips
Speaking of snapped tracks, the only thing worse is a snowmobile track that comes off its mounts because of missing track clips. One or two missing clips is no real cause for alarm as they can be replaced easily, but if you ride with them gone for too long, you’re seriously increasing the chances that your track will slide off, leaving you stranded on the trail. Take care of the missing clips right away, however, and you’ll likely never get to this point.
4. Worn or Torn Tracks
Over time, the rubber on your track is subjected to a lot of wear, and it will eventually show. Wear can manifest in the form of missing chunks, small tears or even exposed cords like the ones you would see on a balding tire. If you notice any of these issues with your snowmobile track, then it’s time to buy a replacement.
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Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.