Skip to Content

How to Prepare & Store a Snowmobile for the Off-Season

Like the climax and conclusion of a story’s plot, there are two sides to every off-road activity (recreational or otherwise). For snowmobiles, the climax occurs from late autumn to early spring, while its ending unfolds in the off-season. During this period of inactivity, nothing’s more important than knowing how to properly prepare and store a snowmobile.

Several steps need to be performed by sled owners if they were to do this right. That said, proper storage and readiness for the next riding season entails strict adherence to the specific guidelines below:

  1. Remove accumulated dirt.
  2. Verify your rig’s fuel requirements.
  3. Prevent moisture buildup.
  4. Fog the motor.
  5. Replenish fluids after flushing.
  6. Keep the rodents away.
  7. Maintain the battery.
  8. Detail your rig.
  9. Get your sled off the ground.
  10. Keep your snowmobile indoors.

Whether you exhaust every bit of the winter season before subjecting your snowmobile to its annual hibernation or not, properly storing your rig is a must. After all, that’s at least six months of inactivity before you can ride your beloved snow machine again.

That’s a long time to be sleeping if you ask me — and the only way to guarantee your rig’s readiness and seamless return next season is if you’ve undertaken all the necessary steps to keep it in prime condition.

Tips on How to Store a Snowmobile

Black Snowmobile Parked in Cabin

1. Remove Accumulated Dirt.

Before storing your sled, make sure to clean it thoroughly. Regular cleaning enhances appearance and prevents corrosion, ensuring your rig remains in top condition during storage.

Snowmobiles often accumulate dirt and other contaminants, especially in parking areas where debris is abundant and on the last rides when snow thins (this adds to the grime).

Pay attention to hidden areas and the undercarriage during cleaning. Use mild detergent and a sponge, avoiding high-pressure washers. Then, rinse your snow machine well and completely dry it before applying protective wax (more on this in #9).

2. Verify Your Rig’s Fuel Requirements.

Now that your snowmobile is all clean and tidy, the next thing to do is verify its fuel details. This step entails following OEM guidelines — turning off the fuel, running the sled dry, and storing it half-full with a fuel stabilizer. Note, however, that the latter may not be a ‘blanket’ practice to prevent condensation from forming inside your rig’s fuel tank.

Nevertheless, storing a snowmobile with an empty tank is ill-advised, as the act can damage seals and the gas gauge float. This practice is only relevant to older models with carburetor systems. If you want to err on the side of caution and safeguard the fuel system during storage, then here are some things to take note of:

  • Fill the tank.
  • Add a fuel stabilizer to prevent solvent breakdown and carburetor corrosion.
  • Run the engine briefly before storing to ensure proper fuel circulation of the treated fuel and protection for engine parts during inactivity.

Similarly, using a fuel stabilizer for prolonged or off-season snowmobile storage may not be universally required. The need for a fuel stabilizer can be influenced by factors such as the type of fuel, storage conditions, and the snowmobile’s specific engine design and fuel system. Some of these considerations are specified below:

Ethanol Content

If your fuel contains ethanol, it’s more prone to phase separation and attracting moisture, making a fuel stabilizer more crucial. Since ethanol-blended fuels are commonly utilized in snowmobiles, stabilizers can help mitigate associated issues.

Fuel Type

Carbureted snowmobiles or those with 2-stroke engines may benefit more from stabilizers than those with 4-stroke power mills or fuel injection systems. This, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot do the same for fuel-injected snow rigs.

Storage Conditions

Suppose you’re storing your snowmobile in a controlled environment with low humidity, stable temperatures, and protection from the elements. In that case, the need for a fuel stabilizer may be reduced (but only for short-term storage). Otherwise, the fuel additive is still a recommended precaution.

3. Prevent Moisture Buildup.

Step #2 is essential because it plays a role in moisture prevention. With snowmobiles, water becomes a pernicious double-edged sword. While frozen water makes snowmobiling possible, too much moisture can rust metal parts and interfere with electronics.

It’s the same dilemma with ATVs — except that it can be trickier with snowmobiles since water freezes in cold weather and may be more challenging to spot and get rid of before storage.

Relative to this, I highly advise greasing all joints, ensuring thorough lubrication, and ventilating the trailer (if using one) before storing your sled. Fogging the engine (to be discussed in more detail below) is also commonly recommended by dealers, particularly for longer-term storage, as it may cause trouble with the fuel system.

4. Fog the Motor.

Preserving cylinders in snowmobiles — another layer of protection for off-season storage — is usually done by fogging the engine, which involves spraying fogging oil directly into the cylinders. Fogging oil helps coat internal engine components, including the cylinders and pistons, to protect them from rust and corrosion during prolonged disuse.

The process of fogging a snowmobile involves the following:

  • Removing the spark plugs
  • Spraying fogging oil into each cylinder
  • Cranking the engine a few times to distribute the oil
  • Replacing the spark plugs

This 4-part process helps create a protective coating on internal engine components, providing a barrier against moisture and corrosion. However, note that procedural nuances may exist between carbureted and fuel-injected machines.

Detailed Steps:

Here are more detailed steps for bullet #2 (applies to carbureted snowmobiles):

  • Access the carburetors by removing the airbox and pulling out the foam or air horns.
  • With the engine running, spray fogging oil into the engine at each intake for a few seconds at a time, alternating between cylinders.
  • Simultaneously, push the throttle lever to keep the engine running slightly above idle speed.
  • Continue spraying oil into the engine until thick, white smoke emerges from the exhaust.
  • Let the engine sputter and shut down.
  • Turn off the fuel switch and remove the drain plugs to let the gasoline flow out.

Even the bullet points above vary by snowmobile make and model. Also, older sleds may have easier access, while newer ones may prove tricky due to tight spaces.

Consistent for carbed rigs is the need for a fuel stabilizer, which reduces the risk of fuel system problems in the fall. On the other hand, engine fogging for fuel-injected snowmobiles heavily relies on specific OEM instructions found in the owner’s manual.

Note: For snowmobiles with E-TEC 2-stroke engines like the Ski-Doo MXZ X 850, running the sled through the E-TEC summerization mode is recommended to prepare the engine for long-term storage. As for Arctic Cat, the manufacturer advises against fogging its 1,100cc snowmobiles.

5. Replenish Fluids After Flushing.

Snowmobiles, like motorcycles, have various fluids that require attention during storage. Specific recommendations for snow rigs may differ slightly concerning flushing out and topping off with fresh fluids. Here are general guidelines for the latter:

Change the fluids.

Ideally, change all fluids in your snowmobile before storage. If this is impractical, replace fluids based on the last time you changed them, considering the time and mileage. For instance, if you recently changed brake fluid within the last two weeks and a few hundred miles, you might exclude it from your ‘replacement list.’

Consider shelf life.

Unopened fluids have a shelf life of up to five years, but fluids left inside a snowmobile can degrade from heat, contamination, or oxidation. This is especially true for oils. During prolonged storage, these processes can develop carbon deposits and other contaminants in the engine.

Bleed reservoirs before topping off.

When topping off fluids, especially in the brake system, bleed the reservoirs first to ensure no old, contaminated fluid mixes with the new one. This helps maintain the integrity of the fresh fluids.

Use the correct coolant.

Ensure you use the appropriate coolant for off-season storage. The right coolant helps prevent the radiator from freezing and potentially causing damage during disuse — in the same way that a suitable coolant prevents engine overheating during warmer months. Simply put, the substance is crucial for winterizing or summerizing snowmobiles.

Cylinder wall protection

Perform step #4 if storing your snowmobile for more than four months. This helps prevent rust and corrosion on the cylinder walls. Additionally, turning the engine over (a.k.a. bumping the ignition) can help spread the oil evenly.

6. Keep the Rodents Away.

Another important aspect of off-season storage is guarding your snowmobile from rodent damage. Often, these pests take shelter in the machine and nibble through foam, hoses, and even electronics during warmer months. To combat this threat, create a rodent management plan. Should you need ideas, below are some of the most common tactics employed by seasoned sledders:


Placing mothballs under the hood and on the tunnel can deter rodents due to their strong odor. Just ensure they’re placed so their fumes won’t accumulate inside enclosed spaces (they can be harmful when inhaled). Additionally, put mothballs in containers or pouches to minimize direct contact with snowmobile components made of plastics, rubber, foam, and fabric.

Peppermint Oil

Rodents dislike the smell of peppermint oil, so applying it to certain areas of your snowmobile can help keep them away. Since it’s a natural essential oil, you don’t have to worry about damage to certain materials. Nonetheless, it’s best to perform a spot test on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure that it doesn’t cause adverse reactions or discoloration to your snow machine.


Setting up traditional snap traps or humane live traps can help prevent rodents from causing significant damage. However, remember to choose the type of trap based on your comfort level in dealing with captured rodents. Also, check your traps regularly to avoid any unintended consequences.

Ultrasonic Repellents

These devices emit high-frequency sound waves unpleasant for rodents but generally inaudible to humans. However, their effectiveness can vary. Consider combining it with other methods for a more comprehensive approach.

Feral Cats

Having a feral cat in the vicinity can be a natural deterrent, as cats are predators to rodents. I’m not too keen on employing this method because it can impact the well-being of the cats in question.

Enclosed Storage

Store the snowmobile in a secure, enclosed space to limit access for rodents. Regularly inspect it for any gaps or openings.

Clean Environment

Keep your storage area clean and remove any potential food sources to make it less attractive to these pests. If you want to be extra, use fabric softener sheets — rodents are repelled by their strong scent.

For more tips, check out our guide on how to keep mice out of your snowmobile.

7. Maintain the Battery.

Like ATVs and other off-road vehicles, using a battery tender for snowmobile off-season storage is non-negotiable. These devices keep the battery in good condition and prevent it from fully discharging. Some battery makers even offer solar-powered options, eliminating the need for a power source.

It’s crucial not to store the snowmobile with the battery attached. Instead, remove the battery and store it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.

Charge the battery monthly using an OptiMate Lithium Battery Charger (view on Amazon), a Battery Tender 022-0185G-DL-WH (view on Amazon) for AGM formats, or its equivalent. Also, consider the battery type (e.g., AGM, lithium, acid-lead, etc.) for specific care.

8. Detail Your Rig.

Storing a snowmobile in filthy condition is a no-no if you want to safeguard the integrity of your rig and its parts. Accumulated dirt traps moisture, leading to corrosion and mold. Moreover, filth can infiltrate the inner workings of your snowmobile and create blockages where they shouldn’t be.

Ensure your snowmobile is spotless before storing it for the off-season. The process encompasses thorough cleaning (step #1), wiping dry, and waxing. Sounds just like storing a motorcycle? Pretty much. However, some considerations need to be made for the specific needs of snowmobile maintenance:

Start with the dirtiest parts.

Begin with the dirtiest parts of the snowmobile, paying attention to areas like the track and suspension components. Snowmobiles can accumulate snow, ice, and road salt during use, and cleaning these elements is crucial to prevent corrosion.

Note: Depending on the level of grime, you may need to wash the entire snowmobile. Ensure it is thoroughly cleaned and dried.

Focus on the chain or drive components.

If your snowmobile has a chain or drive components, clean and lubricate them. Other key areas to focus on are the chassis and suspension — including grease zerks, track and sliders, and idler wheels (among others).

Consider taking a short ride to warm up the chain before applying lubricant, ensuring proper penetration. Also, take care not to over-grease the zerks.

Protect metal parts.

Coat metal parts with a corrosion protectant to guard against rust during storage. Some of the most widely used corrosion inhibitors include Boeshield T-9 Rust & Corrosion Protection (view on Amazon), ACF-50 Anti-Corrosion Lubricant Compound (view on Amazon), Fluid Film Corrosion Preventative, and WD-40 Specialist Corrosion Inhibitor (view on Amazon).

Use brake disc cleaner and Vaseline.

Use a disc cleaner specifically designed for brakes to ensure optimal brake performance. Conversely, apply Vaseline to fasteners and small components to prevent corrosion.

Check the exhaust system.

Ensure that the exhaust system is well-protected. This step includes using exhaust plugs to keep vermin and pests out or wrapping the tailpipe end with a protective cover or plastic bag.

Additionally, poke the exhaust’s weep hole to allow any trapped water to escape. Spray exhaust pipes with a product like WD-40 or LPS3 to protect against corrosion.

Treat the saddle.

Treat the snowmobile’s saddle with a protective vinyl or leather conditioner before storage to prevent drying or cracking and keep it fresh. After that, cover the seat with a breathable, UV-resistant cover to shield it from sunlight and environmental elements.

Optional measures.

Consider using condoms to cover straight pipes for added protection. Wipe off any excess wax or lubricant, or buff the wax before storage depending on the following factors:

  • Short-Term Storage (a few weeks to a couple of months): There’s usually no need to buff the wax before storage, as the protective wax layer will remain effective for a few weeks to a couple of months.
  • Long-Term Storage (several months or more): It’s generally advisable to buff the wax before storage. Buffing the wax ensures an even application and removes any excess wax that could attract dust or contaminants during disuse.
  • Environmental Conditions: If you’re storing the snowmobile in a controlled environment, such as a garage where it’s less exposed to environmental elements, buffing may be less critical. Nonetheless, buffing the wax is still highly recommended in this scenario as it can enhance the protective properties of the wax, ensure that the latter is evenly distributed, and allow your snow rig to perform optimally.

9. Get Your Sled Off the Ground.

To prevent damage from ground moisture, elevate your snowmobile using blocks or four-by-fours on a lumber frame. This not only lifts the suspension but also prevents compression over time.

A snowmobile storage rack like Extreme Max 5800.1184 Pro-Series Aluminum Snowmobile Lift – 800 lbs. Lift Capacity (view on Amazon) is an option, but wooden blocks would also suffice. Jackstand support for the rear end eases tension on springs, and placing the chassis on a crate ensures proper storage.

10. Keep Your Snowmobile Indoors.

Despite the robust and rugged nature of snowmobiles, they’re not immune to the weather. Leaving your sled outside with just a tarp tossed over its top is a bad idea.

If you’re worried that you may not have a good enough setup for storing the rig inside, know that indoor snowmobile storage generally doesn’t require a lot of extras. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • In most cases, a standard indoor storage environment with a consistent temperature is sufficient for snowmobile storage. Extreme temperature fluctuations, especially freezing temperatures, should be avoided, but you don’t necessarily need a dedicated heating system.
  • An electric humidifier may not be necessary for short-term storage or in climates with moderate humidity. However, if you’re storing your snowmobile in a very dry environment for an extended period, consider using a humidifier, moisture-absorbing crystals, or desiccant packs to prevent excessive drying of rubber and plastic components.
  • Your storage area should be dry and well-ventilated. If it’s prone to humidity, avoid direct exposure to sunlight and keep your snowmobile covered with an EliteShield SnowShield Trailerable Snowmobile Cover (view on Amazon) to protect it from dust and potential UV damage.

Rather than having a heating system and electric humidifier, what you should pay mind to when prepping your snowmobile for off-season storage is to assess the specific conditions of your storage space and the climate in your region to determine the level of protection needed — in addition to always following OEM recommendations.

Snowmobile Storage Alternatives

On the off chance that you don’t have space in your garage and need alternative storage solutions for your snowmobile for the off-season, here are some options to consider:

Friends or Family Garage

Check with friends or family members who may have available garage space. Some may let you temporarily store your snowmobile in their garage.

Storage Facilities

Rent a storage unit at a local storage facility. Many offer vehicle storage options; some even have dedicated areas for recreational machines like snowmobiles. Notably, boat and RV storage facilities often have spaces suitable for snowmobiles. So, if your local storage facility is filled, look for nearby boat or RV storage yards as an alternative.

Seasonal Storage Services

Some businesses specialize in seasonal storage services for recreational vehicles. They may offer secure storage, maintenance, and even convenient delivery options.

Dealership Storage Programs

Some snowmobile dealerships — like Yellowstone Adventures in Montana and Arctic Cat dealerships across North America — offer off-season storage programs. The latter may include secure storage facilities, routine maintenance, and preparation for the upcoming riding season.

Community Storage Co-ops

Some areas may have community storage cooperatives or shared storage spaces. These are collective storage solutions where individuals share storage costs and space.

Rental Garage or Workshop

Check online platforms or local classified ads for individuals renting out garage or workshop space. Some folks may have unused space they’re willing to rent for seasonal storage.

I wish I could say that investing in a high-quality, weather-resistant cover is enough to protect your rig from the elements during outdoor storage. However, I strongly advise against the practice (the reason I didn’t include outside storage as an option).

Storing your snowmobile outdoors exposes it to harsh weather conditions, resulting in corrosion, freezing of fluids, cosmetic damage, degraded rubber components, vandalism, or theft. Therefore, consider the above alternatives if indoor storage isn’t feasible.

Conclusion — Snowmobile Off-Season Storage

To recap, here are the steps on how to store a snowmobile for the off-season:

  1. Remove accumulated dirt.
  2. Verify your rig’s fuel requirements.
  3. Prevent moisture buildup.
  4. Fog the motor.
  5. Replenish fluids after flushing.
  6. Keep the rodents away.
  7. Maintain the battery.
  8. Detail your rig.
  9. Get your sled off the ground.
  10. Keep your snowmobile indoors.

I almost forgot — make sure to remove the drive belt from your snow rig before prolonged storage. Doing this will keep the belt from settling to its installed shape and reduce the risk of condensation buildup between itself and the clutch. Never skip this step, as it might hinder the drive belt from rotating properly the next time you use your snowmobile come the fall season.