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4 Common Snowmobile Problems & How to Fix Them

Both novice and seasoned snowmobile drivers should be aware of the most common snowmobile problems and how to troubleshoot them. With this knowledge, you won’t be caught off guard once you experience them while you’re on the trails and enjoying your ride. Likewise, you can avoid any or all of these problems because you already know what to look for before jumping into your vehicle and driving it.

So, what are the common snowmobile problems? While snowmobiles will experience issues similar to most, if not all, types of vehicles, the most common ones, no matter what brand you own, are:

  • Flooded engine
  • Dried Out Carburetor or Fuel Lines
  • Overheating Engine
  • Malfunctioning Clutch System

To help you further understand your snowmobile, let’s discuss the mentioned problems in more detail and how you can fix each of them.

Checking Snowmobile Engine

What Can Go Wrong With Snowmobiles?

It isn’t surprising to know that you will soon experience different issues with your snowmobile after riding or using it for quite some time. Like ATVs, UTVs, and other types of vehicles, it has parts that will wear and tear and require regular replacing.

That said, some problems are more common for snowmobiles than for other vehicles. These issues include:

Flooded Engine

Your snowmobile’s engine can get flooded when you overprime or over-choke it. Please note, though, that this issue is more common in two-stroke units. Flooding or a flooded engine means it usually has moisture-laden or damp spark plugs due to snow.

How do I know if my snowmobile is flooded?

The good news is a flooded snowmobile engine is easy to detect. You will most likely hear unusual noises, and the vehicle will produce a strong gas smell. It’s also not uncommon to see gas leaking or running out of your snowmobile’s exhaust pipe.

Dried Out Carburetor or Fuel Lines

Among the most common issues you’ll experience with your snowmobile is the drying out of carburetor or fuel lines. Why, you may ask? That’s because the vehicle typically stays in storage for months, as it’s usually only used when it starts to snow.

The main effect of this issue on your snowmobile is you will have trouble starting it.

Overheating Engine

Among the more common snowmobile problems you need to keep in mind is its engine overheating. There are many causes, from minor to major ones, such as clogged exhaust pipes and faulty cooling systems.

How do I know if my snowmobile is overheating?

There are many signs to look out for when your snowmobile starts to overheat.

On most snowmobile models, the warning light (over-temperature indicator) illuminates once the engine temperature gets too high. Meanwhile, the newest models stop their engines automatically or switch them to limp mode to avoid further damage.

You may also notice poor engine performance, bog downs, or other malfunctions. In the worst cases, overheating may result in severe engine damage.

Malfunctioning Clutch System

Your snowmobile’s clutch system ensures sufficient power transmission, making rides smoother. Hence, it isn’t difficult to feel or hear when something is wrong with it. Your snowmobile can be less powerful than usual, or you will hear unusual noises.

How To Fix Common Snowmobile Problems

Now that you’re aware of the common problems with snowmobiles, let’s start learning to to fix each of them.

How do you unflood a snowmobile engine?

Unflooding your snowmobile’s engine isn’t rocket science. You can simply allow the excess fuel to evaporate and then restart the engine.

That said, this process will take around 20 to 30 minutes. If you don’t have that much time to spare, especially if you’re already out on the trails, here are the steps that you can take to unflood the engine:

  1. Kill your snowmobile’s engine switch.
  2. Clear the line by holding the throttle open and carefully pulling the starter cord 15 to 20 times.
  3. Carefully remove the spark plugs.
  4. Wipe them with any available clean cloth you have to remove any moisture and dirt present. But if you have spare spark plugs, it would be best to install them to replace the ones you just removed.

How do you fix dried-out carburetor or fuel lines?

The way to fix a dried-out carburetor or dried-out fuel lines will depend on the severity of the issue. Generally, a carburetor cleaning agent or starter fluid can already resolve the problem.

But if the problem is more serious to the point that the snowmobile’s combustion chamber doesn’t receive any fuel, you might need to clean the carburetor thoroughly. Worst, your snowmobile might require carburetor rebuilding.

How do you fix an overheated snowmobile engine?

The best way to deal with an overheated snowmobile engine will depend on the problem’s main cause. Hence, allow me to share with you the most common causes of overheating and the corresponding solution for each.

The first thing you need to do when your snowmobile starts to overheat is turn off the engine. Then, inspect for any of the following possible causes and resolve the specific issue:

  • Insufficient Coolant: One of the more common reasons your snowmobile engine overheats is there’s not enough coolant. Simply check if it’s at the optimum level and replenish when needed.
  • Insufficient Engine Oil: If you have a four-stroke snowmobile, a low level of engine oil can also lead to the engine overheating. Like with the coolant, simply check if it’s at the optimum level and replenish when needed.
  • Malfunctioning Heat Exchanger: This snowmobile part plays a crucial role in controlling the vehicle’s temperature. Any debris, dirt, or damage leads to malfunctions, affecting the engine’s temperature. So, inspect the heat exchanger and remove any debris present, clean it, or replace it as and when needed.
  • Too High Environmental Temperature: Some snowmobiles use fans for temperature control. This snowmobile model can overheat when the environmental temperature isn’t low enough to supply the vehicle with cool air. One of the solutions to this is to drive your snowmobile into deep snow. You may also carefully throw snow into the snowmobile’s side running boards or tunnels. When doing so, ensure you’re wearing your breathable, insulated snow gloves (view on Amazon) to protect your hands.
  • Others: Other possible minor issues that can lead to engine overheating are a clogged exhaust pipe, disconnected wiring, and a snow flap stuck in the snowmobile’s track. Simply remove any debris and reconnect the wiring.

How do you fix common clutch problems?

First, you need to check for any glazing in your snowmobile’s clutch. If there’s any, clean or scuff it off.

Another reason the clutch malfunctions is a problem with the drive belt. Make sure its tension is set to the level indicated in the user manual. But if the drive belt already has damages, rubbing, and other issues, you will need to replace it.

That said, note that clutch problems aren’t something you can simply fix when the system malfunctions while on your snow journey. That’s why it’s advisable to inspect your snowmobile a few days before you plan on snowmobiling.

A Summary of the Common Snowmobile Problems and Troubleshooting Tips

Here’s a table summarizing the common snowmobile issues you might encounter, the signs to look for, and how to troubleshoot them that you can use as a quick reference:

IssuesCommon SignsTroubleshooting Tips
Flooded EngineUnusual engine noises

Strong gas smell

Gas leaking or running out of the exhaust pipe.
Allow the excess fuel to evaporate

Manually unflood
Dried Out Carburetor and/or Fuel LinesTrouble starting the snowmobileUse carburetor cleaning agent or starter fluid

Thorough cleaning of the carburetor

Carburetor rebuilding
Overheating EngineIlluminating over-temperature indicator or indicator Engine automatically stops

Automatically switches to limp mode

Poor engine performance

Engine bogs down

Other engine malfunctions
Turn the engine off

Top off coolant and/or engine oil until optimum level

Clean and/or replace the heat exchanger

Drive your snowmobile into deep snow

Carefully throw snow into the snowmobile’s tunnels

Remove any debris on tracks and/or pipe

Reconnect the loose wiring
Malfunctioning Clutch SystemLess power

Unusual noises
Clean or scuff off glazing present

Adjust the drive belt tension

Replace worn-out or torn drive belt

But Is It Really One of the Common Snowmobile Problems?

I want to note that not just because your snowmobile stops in the middle of nowhere or suddenly runs out of power doesn’t always mean it’s related to any of the major issues we discussed earlier. That is especially true if you have a well-maintained snowmobile.

The problem could be a minor one that can leave you scratching your head or laughing out loud. So before you even panic, make sure you do the following:

  • Check if you accidentally hit the power or emergency switch, which is possible when you’re having so much fun.
  • Are you sure you have enough gas? Did you check and refill before heading out? If not, check for fuel levels, and if you don’t have enough, you might need to call somebody for help, as you will most likely not find a gas station in the trails.
  • What if you have gas and didn’t hit the power or emergency switch? It’s time to ask yourself how old the gas in the tank is. If it’s been sitting there for months while the snowmobile is in storage, you will need to replace it with new fuel. Again, you will need to call for help.
  • Apart from gas or fuel, you should also check your oil and coolant to make sure they’re at the optimum level.
  • Your snowmobile’s battery can also cause your snowmobile to suddenly stop or prevent it from starting. That’s why it’s crucial to check it, especially when your vehicle has been in storage for quite some time.

Troubleshooting Common Snowmobile Issues

One snowmobile issue can have one or more causes requiring specific fixes. It can be something minor or major. That’s why you must ensure you know what to look for when your snowmobile fails to start, suddenly stops, or isn’t as powerful as it used to be. The same goes for when you hear unfamiliar noises.

To save you the trouble and stress of your snowmobile failing while you’re on the trails or in the middle of nowhere, it’s always best to inspect it a few weeks or days before using it. Make sure you check every belt, nuts, bolts, etc. Check every box (or more) in your preventive measure list, just like when you ensure you have a complete set of gear, from a DOT-approved full-face helmet (view on Amazon) to a pair of breathable, durable riding boots (view on Amazon).