Servicing & Transporting Your Machine
If you’ve been cheating on your bike with your snowmobile all winter, you’ll need to give your machine a good tune-up, or take it to a pro for servicing, before you take it out for the first trip of the season. If you’ll be servicing your own machine, make sure you check your owner’s manual first for any specific maintenance procedures you should be following.
Whether your machine is coming out of storage or going into it, it’s all about getting your machine in mint condition before you go riding, so here’s what you should do:
GIVE IT THE 'ONCE-OVER':
Take a good look at your bike if it’s been parked for a while. Clean it first with mild soap and water to remove any dirt or grime and make any damages more visible. Walk around it keeping your eyes peeled for damages, such as fluid leaks, rusty spots, loose parts or low tires.
CHANGE THE OIL & FILTER
Check the engine oil level and, if needed, change the oil and filter (this is generally done each season). Your owner’s manual will provide the manufacturer's recommendations about the type of oil your machine needs. Once replaced, you should run the machine for a few minutes to circulate the new oil through the system.
CHECK THE FUEL:
You should always drain your fuel tank and turn off the fuel valve before putting a machine into storage. If you’re pulling your machine out of storage and there’s fuel in the tank, drain it out and top it off with fresh fuel. Gas can go bad and if it does, it can cause serious mechanical issues for your machine.
Check your air filter for any debris/dirt. If it’s too dirty to clean out, replace it.
Make sure the cooling system is operating correctly by removing any rocks or pieces of brush that may be stuck in it. Then remove the radiator cap and take a look. If the coolant level is low, check your owner’s manual to determine the right type for your machine and then top it off to the recommended level. If you come across any gunk or corrosion you should take the machine to a pro for service.
Always remove the battery before putting a machine into storage or if you know it will be sitting for longer than a month. The battery should sit on a battery tender or charger. If it won’t stay charged, you may need a replacement. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations to find out what type of replacement battery you should buy.
Look at the exhaust system for any debris, rust or other signs of wear. Make sure the spark arrestor is functioning properly and that your machine meets the legal sound level restrictions for your state. If your machine is too loud it will disrupt wildlife, people living nearby and other trail users.
Check the brake pads for signs of wear and tear. If they’re looking thin they should be replaced. You should also check the brake lever to make sure it’s lubricated well enough to move easily. Brake damage is a very dangerous problem. Always go to a pro for professional service.
DRIVE CHAIN AND SPROCKETS:
Check the tension of your drive chain (it shouldn’t be too tight or too loose) and make sure the chains are clean and well lubricated. Visit a pro for service if you aren’t sure about the proper drive chain tension for your machine.
Check your tires for any punctures, gouges and for the tire pressure. Use a pressure gauge that is appropriate for your type of machine. Check the tightness of the lug nuts too. It’s really dangerous to ride a machine with worn-out tires or with incorrect air pressure in the tires. If you’re putting the machine into storage, you should place it on pallets to keep the machine off the ground, especially if the ground may become wet from melting snow.
Throw a breathable cover on your machine to keep condensation off while it’s in storage. You can buy covers designed for this purpose. But don’t use plastic tarps. Coated materials like plastic will trap condensation and cause corrosion and rusting.
Always check your headlights, taillights and brake lights to make sure they’re working properly. You’ll also want to check all of your fuses and spark plugs and if equipped, your winch line.