When winter weather makes its first appearance, you may be itching to hit that fresh snow on your snowmobile. Before cranking up the engine though, there are a few things you need to do first. 

At the start and end of every season, doing some minor maintenance on your machine will keep it performing at its peak for years. The best approach to snowmobile maintenance is to create a checklist to get through before the snow starts to fall. 

Grease Your Snowmobile Engine

This is your first and easiest step. Add some fresh grease to the front suspension, the rear suspension, the drivetrain and your steering. Make sure to grease up the bearings in the driveshaft and the jackshaft as well to guarantee a smooth ride this year.

Correct Snowmobile Oil Change

It is vitally important to change your chaincase oil at least once a year. Oil breaks down over the season as your engine heats and cools, and it can take in water and other contaminants during use. 

If you didn’t change the oil at the end of last season, it is crucial to the life of your snowmobile engine to change the oil before this season starts.

It’s easy to do yourself. Older snowmobiles have a chaincase drain plug, and on newer models you’ll simply have to remove the chaincase cover. In both cases, you’ll drain out the old lube and fill it with new oil to keep everything running smoothly. 

Set Your Chain

While you’re working on your chaincase, it’s a good time to set the chain tension. Your chain will loosen slightly with use over the winter, and that can be hard on the sockets. Make sure to set the right tension so you can avoid problems with your gears. 

Check Your Lights

This seems like an obvious step, but you would be surprised how many people forget because they inspect their snowmobile during the day or when it’s turned off. 

Take the extra step by starting your engine and looking at all your lights. Replace any burned out bulbs now – you don’t want to be stuck out in the snow after dark kicking yourself because you didn’t replace that bulb when you had the chance. 

Add More Grease

There are lots of shafts and wheels in your sled’s rear and front suspensions, and they need attention every season. Buy a grease gun and some low-temperature grease, then add fresh grease to your fittings. 

While you’re adding the grease, check the torque arm and the slides to make sure nothing needs replacing. Don’t forget to add grease to the necessary parts in your sled’s steering and jackshaft bearing as well. 

Clean Your Snowmobile’s Clutch

Your clutch gets a lot of wear and tear over the season, plus it can accumulate material that will slow it down. Clean your clutch with some emery cloth or a scouring pad on the sheeves, working from the center to the edge, on both the moving parts and the fixed sheaves. Don’t use steel wool as it’s too fine and won’t clean as thoroughly as you need. 

Adjust Your Belt

Once you’ve cleaned your clutch, reinstall your belt and set the tension to the manufacturer specifications. 

Inspect Your Exhaust

Your snowmobile’s exhaust system gets lots of wear and tear, and it needs a good inspection once a year. Look at the gaskets, springs, and mounts to make sure everything is still in good working order. Open the hood and look at your cylinders. If they’re covered with oil, you need to check your manifold. You may need to tighten or replace the gaskets. 

Adjust Your Snowmobile Track

You will want to check your track and align your skis before the first ride of the season. 

First, adjust your track so it’s in line with the front end. 

When that’s done, sit down on the sled and straighten up your handlebars. 

Check the measurements between your handle and a fixed point at the back of the bike, and make sure they are the same on each side of the bike. 

Next, lay a straightedge down and measure between the toe and the heel of each ski. 

Adjust until your skis are aligned according to your manufacturer’s specifications. 

Tighten Everything Up

Once you’re done with the oil, grease, lights, and adjustments, you have one last task to do. Grab a wrench and give your sled a good inspection to ensure all parts are adequately tightened. 

You might want to put the sled on its side to get to the rear suspension. Make sure to tighten all bolts in the shock and torque arm. Check your rails and chassis, rods and spindles, and don’t forget the steering system. 

By making sure that your snowmobile has received sufficient proper maintenance before the snow starts to fall, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the season on a machine that works safely and provides tons of fun.