With winter storms blasting much of the northern United States somewhat early this year, the reality has officially set in for snowmobile riders that their machines need to be trail worthy.

If you’ve waited this long, however, chances are you will only be performing the necessary tweaks and fixes. Thankfully, most parts of a snowmobile won’t endure much beating from the forces of time alone, but there are a few trouble spots that can take a downhill dive during the off-season.

Inspect everything

Not everything needs to be replaced, but inspection should determine the condition of certain parts and if they’re worth changing. Among the simplest is the fuel filter, which only requires removing the airbox, unbolting a fuel line holder, loosening plastics, disconnecting the fuel filter and then reversing those steps.

Spark plugs

Spark plugs may also need a change or an inspection at least. This could be as simple as unplugging the power wire to the coil and pulling it off the plug. Use the special socket in your set to remove the plug, then inspect for signs of running lean, rich etc. This will be in indicator of further work that may have to be done.

Check track and skis

You will also want to check your track and skis. Ensure that the track is rolling straight. If it isn’t, then speed will be compromised. Loosen one of the rear axle bolts then align the track accordingly and set its tension. Then straighten out the bars and measure each side from a point on the bar to a fixed point on the chassis. When they seem aligned, lay a straightedge along the track and measure between that and each ski’s heel to find the exact distance. The user manual should indicate what the appropriate measurements are.


Chaincase lube should also be changed once a year. Drain the chaincase lube into a container and check out its condition. If it looks clean and slippery then everything is fine, but if it appears that the level was low then inspect the chain and sprockets for wear. The chain should have about a quarter inch of play.

Check lights and throttle

Brakes, lights and throttle can also be checked, but they are less likely to need attention from year to year. Put a charge on your battery and change the oil and you will be set for the season ahead.

Review manual

The good thing about new snowmobiles is their user manuals, which provide detailed explanations of all basic check-up tasks. While these manuals tend to disappear over the years, there are several companies that make model-specific repair and maintenance manuals for snowmobiles.

Get all the use out of the manual that you can. It proves much easier to follow along step-by-step when you have a hard copy of the process sitting on the bench near your tools and parts.

The worst scenario is having a non-running snowmobile when the ground finally takes that first thick coat. Spread these tune-up tasks across a few days and you’ll be running smooth on the trails when winter really hits.

Photo credit: Dreamstime