Eventually the winter must come to an end. Once you’ve admitted that you’re unlikely to get another snowstorm, and that you’re not going to be able to head to someplace snowy for one last weekend of fun, it’s time to prepare your sled for the off-season. Here’s how to make sure your machine will be in top shape when next the flurries fly.
1. Location, Location, Location
You’ll need a storage spot that keeps your sled dry and away from pests. Remember that it will be difficult to move your snowmobile once it is summerized, so try to get it into the storage location before doing the rest of the work. You’ll want to elevate the track and skis off of the ground, so place a block underneath the front bumper area and somewhere on the rear frame.
Whether you’re storing the sled indoors or outdoors, it will be subject to vast fluctuations in temperature. As a consequence, the fluids will expand and contract. This can lead to condensation and the very undesirable introduction of water to your fuel tank and engine internals. Water will almost immediately begin to oxidize (rust) the unprotected bits, so it’s critical to keep it out. The best way to do this is with fuel stabilizer.
Add fuel stabilizer to your tank in the proper proportion, then run the engine for a few minutes to make sure the fuel circulates. The tank should as full as possible for storage. Next, remove the float bowl drains and drain the carburetor. You’ll be rewarded with a gum- and residue-free carb. next season.
3. Fog it!
Pull the spark plugs and spray the engine cylinders with fogging oil. Follow the fogging oil directions. In a pinch, you can squirt some regular snowmobile oil into the cylinders instead. You’ll then want to gently turn the engine by hand to distribute the oil evenly around the cylinders. Both methods will coat the exposed metal surfaces with a protective film of oil. Don’t forget to replace the spark plugs!
Remove the drive belt from your sled, unroll it and store it separately. Otherwise, it will form to the stored shape and risk damaging the clutches when you resume use next winter. This can be a great time to clean the clutches too.
With the battery, you have a couple of choices. Either way, you’ll want to remove it and keep it indoors in an area not subject to vast fluctuations in temperature. Bright sun can cause battery internals to degrade, so keep it out of the sun. Then, either hook it up to a trickle charger or recharge it every 30 days. Watch the water level, as it’s likely to go down during storage. If the level falls below the fill line, add distilled water to bring the level back. Avoid the temptation to use tap water – distilled water is the only choice for your battery.
6. Loosen Up!
When you go to sleep for the night, your muscles relax and you wake up refreshed. Your sled needs your help to relax, so loosen the shocks and springs. Depending on what type of track you have, you may wish to loosen it as well. With a Kevlar-belted track, you may not need to do this, so check your owner’s manual.
7. Clean Your Machine
Make sure all dirt, grime and oily build-up is removed. Pressure washing can work, but be careful to cover the air intake when under the hood. Be aware that high-pressure spray can penetrate seals and gaskets. Avoid introducing water into places it does not belong! Touch up any scrapes and scratches on painted surfaces to keep them from developing rust.
8. Grease it!
Check your owner’s manual for the many locations to lubricate your sled, and then apply the proper grease to all ports. You’ll keep these important spots free of water during the long summer slumber. You may wish to apply a thin film of oil or fogging oil to the pipes to keep them from oxidizing. Since any exposed metal part can rust, you can protect them with a dab of oil or squirt of WD40. Just be sure that you clean any overspray off of all rubber, plastic or painted surfaces to prevent damage.
9. Sleepy Time
Place steel wool plugs in any openings where rodents could gain entry or build a home. Intake and exhaust holes are likely targets. Steel wool also works to keep mice and squirrels out of your home, and is one material that they do not seem to enjoy eating or burrowing through. If you’re storing the sled outside, cover it with a snowmobile cover. You’ll want a cover that allows air breathability while keeping water off of your sled. A plastic tarp will end up collecting and depositing condensation on your summerized snowmobile all season, undoing much of your preparation.
With an afternoon of easy work, you can give your sled safe summer resting place. When snow returns, you’ll be happy that your machine is ready to go for another season of fun on the trails.
George Zeed lives in Grants Pass Oregon and works for ImpactBattery.com. An avid outdoorsman and environmentalist, he writes about topics related to all kinds of recreational vehicles and accessories. He is also the “go to guy” for information when shopping for items like battery chargers and a new motorcycle battery.