Just like a car or a truck, there are a number of different snowmobile fuel options out there than can affect performance, longevity and maintenance. Choosing the right fuel for your snowmobile means not only understanding how these different types of gas work, but also knowing your snow machine’s unique needs.
Regular, Plus, Super
Almost every fuel pump you encounter is going to offer some variation on regular, plus and super grades of gasoline. The majority of the time, these terms translate into octane ratings of 87, 89 and 91, respectively, with occasionally 93, 94 or even 85 being offered at the low end.
Octane is simply a measure of how well a given formulation of fuel resists detonation or knock, which is the term used to describe gas igniting in a cylinder before the spark plug has a chance to fire. It doesn’t have anything to do with burning better or cleaner — it’s simply a matter of the higher the number, the better the resistance.
Read the Manual
The best snowmobile fuel is always the one your machine has been designed to use right from the factory. Fortunately, it’s easy to figure out which octane level of gas your snowmobile has been set up for, as it will be written right in the manual. There’s no performance benefit to using higher octane in a motor that hasn’t been designed to take advantage of it, as the extra knock resistance simply isn’t necessary.
What About Ethanol?
Almost all gas offered in the United States is blended with at least 10 percent ethanol, which is a type of alcohol typically derived from corn. On a stock sled, 10 percent ethanol is perfectly acceptable in snowmobile fuel, but if your machine is modified at all you will need to check with the shop that built it to see if it needs to be tuned to deal with this level of ethanol content.
If you own an old snowmobile, then ethanol can pose a problem when it comes to the rubber seals and hoses in the engine, as alcohol can dry these out and cause them to crack. You may also want to avoid storing ethanol gas for long periods in the tank of your machine unless you also add some fuel stabilizer, as it has a tendency to break down faster over the summer and can clog your fuel system.
Choosing the right snowmobile fuel will see you through the winter season in style.
Check out all the snowmobile and powersport parts
Photo courtesy of MorgueFile.
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.