Maintenance isn’t fun. You just want to hop on your sled, fire it up and hit the fresh powder. But all that fun is instantly over when your neglected snowmobile is now broken down in the middle of Nowheresville. Sure, you may have even gone through our pre-season checklist, but that doesn’t cover everything that your snowmobile requires to be maintained. On snowmobiles, it’s easy to check your track, hyfax and carbides. They are all visible and easy to be reminded of. It’s those more hidden tasks that are often forgotten about. But these are the ones that can also cause the worst problems for you down the trail. Below are the three most neglected areas of maintenance. Be sure to add them to your to-do list so that your sled is in prime riding condition.
Change Chain Case Oil
For hardcore riders, the task of changing chain case oil may seem obvious. But all too often it goes by the wayside for many casual and even some hardcore riders. It’s one of those things that you just don’t think about. And even if you do remember, you may choose to skip it because it can be a messy job on certain models. That being said, it is crucial to maintain a proper level of fresh oil in your chain case.
Because the chain rolls on the sprockets in the chain case, small metal finings are created (even with new oil). That is normal. It becomes a problem, though, when too much of that metal builds up in the oil. The lubrication properties of your oil are reduced, and the chain and sprocket will begin to wear prematurely. The oil level can also drop over time, which creates the potential for a mechanical breakdown. If you have low oil, be sure to check the seal on the chain case cover for damage. Also check the chain and sprockets for damage.
Based on most manufacturer recommendations, a snowmobile’s chain case oil should be changed every year. This timeline can change based on the amount you ride and how hard you are on your machine. A casual rider can stretch that timeline out a bit as long as they check the oil level along the way. Riders who are extremely hard on their machines may want to consider changing their chain case oil more often than just yearly.
And while you’re in there, it’s a good time to also check the chain tension. Adjust the tensioner so that the chain deflection matches your manufacturer’s specification. If you cannot find a specification, shoot for ¼” of deflection.
A greased snowmobile is a happy snowmobile. The moving parts of the chassis and drivetrain require grease to move smoothly. Without it, parts come to a grinding halt and things break. Greasing your snowmobile should be done with your preseason maintenance, but so often riders neglect to check this task off their list. It’s just so easy to just hop on and ride when nothing is broken. Yet.
The fact that greasing the chassis is so neglected is a shame because it’s an easy job. You can be done with it in no time, especially when you familiarize yourself with the location of all the Zerk fittings. All that is needed is a grease gun and a tube of a good waterproof multi-purpose grease. Look for the Zerk fittings to be located on the rear suspension, front suspension, steering parts, drivetrain, jackshaft and driveshaft.
Change Brake Fluid
Be honest. Have you ever changed the brake fluid on a snowmobile? I’m willing to bet that most riders would say they haven’t. For such an important system, brakes are often afterthoughts on sleds. Brake fluid is not an everlasting product, though. It degrades over time and loses its efficacy. A spongey brake is not a welcome feeling when you come into a corner too hot.
Brake fluid used in snowmobiles is glycol based, which makes it hygroscopic. What does hygroscopic mean, you ask? It means that brake fluid will absorb moisture when it comes in contact with it. As the fluid continues to absorb moisture, its performance capabilities keep diminishing leading to that spongey brake. Aside from the performance loss, moisture in brake fluid can also lead to corrosion. A corroded brake system is dangerous and will require more money and time to replace than just the fluid.
Brake fluid should be replaced every couple of years to avoid performance loss and corrosion. Be sure to use a fresh, unopened bottle of brake fluid to avoid adding fluid that has already absorbed moisture. The master cylinder cover should state what DOT fluid to use. If it doesn’t have the fluid recommendation for some reason, check your owner’s manual.
So there you have it. The three most neglected snowmobile maintenance tasks. Keep up on all required maintenance and your sled will reward you by performing when you need it to. Let us know in the comments what snowmobile maintenance tasks you think are most neglected.