It’s that time of year again. In some areas in the US, it’s snowing so hard. The road conditions are terrible, and worse still, it’s very cold. So it’s only right you think of your snowmobile.
Today we’re going to talk about two of the most important fluids in your snowmobile: oil and antifreeze (coolant). After all, we have all had to battle with frozen coolants and antifreeze.
Snowmobiles, like all other motorized vehicles, have one crucial component that needs to be replaced from time to time: the snowmobile coolant, commonly known as antifreeze.
But how much do you actually know about snowmobile antifreeze?
Well, without it, your snowmobile will be unable to start, or worse, it could overheat and cause damage to other components. As such, it’s important to know what to look for and how to change the snowmobile coolant in your machine. And we’ve got you covered!
So whether you’re a DIYer looking to fix your snowmobile all by yourself or a mechanic wondering what the best coolant is, or maybe you are just wondering if you need to change your snowmobile coolant, here is a complete guide to snowmobile coolants.
Snowmobile Coolant (Antifreeze) Explained
What is Antifreeze? Snowmobile coolant or antifreeze is the term used to describe a mixture of water and coolant agents such as glycerol, ethylene glycol, methanol alcohol, propylene glycol, etc. It is used to help balance the engine temperature via the machine’s cooling system.
The main agents used in snowmobile coolant gel include:
- Ethylene Glycol: This is a solution associated with a high boiling point, which makes it a great antifreeze substance. However, it must be handled carefully because it’s highly toxic and hard to detect once ingested in the body. It can cause symptoms similar to a plethora of ailments. It must be handled with caution!
- Methanol (Methanol Alcohol): The most fundamental alcohol molecule in chemistry is methanol (methyl alcohol). Some of its properties include being combustible, volatile, colorless, and having a distinct, potent smell, making it ideal for use as fuel, solvent, or antifreeze.
- Glycerol: Glycerol is a non-toxic, non-corrosive substance that performs extremely well at high temperatures. The freezing point of glycerol is not as low as that of the other substances.
- Propylene Glycol: This is one of those chemical solutions with less harmful properties, which explains why it’s commonly used as an antifreeze. It can, however, turn out to be exceedingly caustic or corrosive, which can affect the metal components of the cooling system and engine.
Note that you should always mix antifreeze with water when using it on a snowmobile. The most typical ratio is 50-50, but producers may recommend 60-40 in some cases.
What’s The Purpose of Antifreeze In Snowmobile
The main purpose of an antifreeze solution is to help balance the engine’s temperature through the machine cooling system. It helps in lowering the freezing point of a liquid containing water when it is extremely cold outside.
The cooling system of the machine uses antifreeze to balance the engine’s temperature. It assists in lowering a liquid containing water’s freezing point when it is cold outside. This includes the entire engine system, which, in turn, operates a great deal of heat transfer.
The same antifreeze gel will assist in raising the liquid‘s boiling point in hot weather or high-temperature circumstances. This way, the machine’s system won’t get too hot and crash.
How To Change Snowmobile Coolant
It might be a bit of a hassle to add antifreeze to your snowmobile, especially if you’re doing it all by yourself. But do not worry; it is quite easy. You just need some buckets and some tools and you’ll be good to go. If done properly, this is a simple process and should last an hour or so.
Here’s what you will need to change your snowmobile coolant.
- Containers to collect the used coolant, such as buckets or another type
- Needle nose pliers to help remove the hose clamps
- Ratcheting set
- A funnel to help re-fill the snowmobile with fresh coolant
- Some paper towels or rags to clean up any coolant spills
- Set of screwdrivers (flat and Phillips head)
- Fresh coolant
Note that when changing the coolant in a snowmobile, you will need new fresh coolant. Of course, most automotive antifreeze combinations will serve just fine in snowmobiles, but it’s best to use the manufacturer-recommended coolant.
The solution usually comes as pre-mixed antifreeze that has been diluted with water. But if you choose to buy straight antifreeze, you will need to get some distilled water as well to create a mixture. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to change your snowmobile coolant.
Drain The Old/Used Coolant From Your Snowmobile
Start by draining the coolers of the current solution. This involves pulling off or disconnecting the cooling system’s lowest hose. You might want to lift the back of your sled, maybe using a jack stand to assist with the draining. The tracks should, however, remain in place.
Most snowmobiles have bleed as well as draining bolts that make it quite easy to drain the coolant. These bolts are normally found on the machine’s exchanger, on top of the track. To gain access to these, you may have to remove the seat.
Note that you’ll have to lift the sled from the backside to completely get rid of the old solution out of the heat exchanger. You may either jack the snowmobile up from the bottom and support it safely, or you can hoist it up using a winch by attaching it to the ceiling.
Moreover, there’re two different kinds of cooling systems found in snowmobiles; one has a radiator, and one doesn’t. Most snowmobiles equipped with a cooling system usually do not come with a radiator– except for the heavy machines that may require better cooling.
Each type of cooling system will call for different components and coolant exchange techniques. Below we’ve discussed each type in detail so you can just proceed as necessary.
How To Drain Old Coolant on Snowmobile With No Radiator
If the cooling system in your snowmobile doesn’t have a radiator, you’ll find a valve that is attached to the cooling system’s main pipe, which goes to the sled’s head gasket.
This valve cap has to be opened.
The valve cap, in most cases, is a metal cap that features a red or yellow sticker. Once you’re done removing the cap, proceed and take off the drain bolt, usually found at the base of the stated coolant pump.
Still, you might want to check your snowmobile‘s user manual to know exactly where the bleed bolts and drain are located. Once the old solution starts pouring out, get a bucket to trap/collect the unwanted coolant. Make sure it is properly disposed of as per the regulations.
Alternatively, you can use a coolant hose, which emerges from the head gasket and runs through the coolant pump all the way to the exchanger.
In this case, you’ll need to first disconnect the hose, release the hose clamp (probably using a needle nose plier), and then put the hose into the bucket or container.
It can be a little difficult to put the hose into the bucket since there isn’t much room to do so. But it’s possible to keep the bucket beneath the sled and then direct the flow of the coolant from the hose right into the bucket.
Also, you can get an air pump and use it to blast air into the bleeding holes and fill valves on the heat exchanger. This can help achieve a completely drained cooling system.
A Snowmobile Cooling System With A radiator
Well, draining old coolant on a snowmobile with a radiator is quite simple. First, place the bucket such that when the radiator‘s drain bolt is removed, coolant will stream right down into it.
Proceed by opening the radiator cap to restore normal pressure inside for a more thorough draining. You may want to blow some air into the radiator cap to drain out any unwanted solution left inside.
Tip: If there are no air-bleeding holes on your snowmobile, look for two hoses (usually found under the seat), which are attached to the machine’s heat exchanger. Go ahead and disconnect these two hoses and push/blow air right into one of them. This will help clean out any unwanted solution left inside.
How To Drain The Coolant Reservoir
Next up, you’ll need to drain the entire coolant reservoir. Note that you have lifted the snowmobile from the back, preventing the coolant in the reservoir bottle from draining on its own.
So, take out the reservoir bottle and pour the unwanted coolant into the bucket. Alternatively, you can disjoin the pipe that comes out from the reservoir and get rid of the coolant that way.
After completely draining the unwanted solution from your machine, connect every hose and reinstall the hose clamps. When replenishing the cooling system, check to make sure all the clamps and hoses are well-fastened to prevent coolant leaks.
Dispose of The Antifreeze In Accordance With the Local Regulations
Keep in mind that the antifreeze commonly found in snowmobiles is ethylene-glycol (a liquid with a green tint and maybe some other supplemental coolant additives), which is highly toxic.
Given that this is a sweet substance, chances are your kids or pet will attempt to drink it. So take caution. This is a toxic chemical and can be fatal. You should always dispose of the antifreeze and such substances in accordance with local laws and regulations.
How To Fill Fresh Coolant In Snowmobile
Well, it’s much easier to refill the antifreeze solution in your sled than to drain it. In the next section, we’ll discuss how to select the best coolant and how to fill it into your snowmobile.
First, of all, make sure you’re using the right antifreeze/coolant for your machine. This will not only help in cooling the snowmobile‘s engine but will also prolong the life of the coolant.
In fact, this is how you get to avoid frequent refilling and you rest assured that your engine’s cooling system isn’t going to fail or end up causing some unwanted problems.
Keep in mind that coolant is made up of water and antifreeze. So, when buying antifreeze or pre-mixed coolant, make sure you pay close attention to the type you’re getting. Otherwise, running antifreeze in your machine undiluted can lead to major issues.
Fill The Collant In The Snowmobile
Lift your snowmobile from the front and lower it from the back (around 24 inches). Proceed and add the coolant to the back heat exchanger. You can simply take one of the hoses off and use it to add the new solution.
Note that in order to get smooth coolant flow into the rear heat exchanger, you’ll need to remove the air-leaking bolts as well.
So fill the heat exchanger, put the hose back and then secure it with a clamp. Be sure to bolt down any bleeding holes and check that they are well-fitted.
Now proceed to the front and fill the cooling system’s primary valve with coolant as well. You should ideally fill the coolant in a narrow stream to prevent air from becoming entrapped inside the liquid.
Try to add the antifreeze mixture slowly to make it easier for the air to get out of the valve.
You should also find out the capacity of the coolant system so that you can know how much coolant you’re adding.
For example, if your sled normally requires a certain amount of coolant, but you’ve only added half of that, then it’s likely that you didn’t completely drain the system or, maybe air is trapped in the system. Consider checking the user manual to find out how much coolant your snowmobile should get.
One trick you can perform to get rid of air from the coolant is to allow the coolant bottle to sit for a while such that the air inside comes on top. Also, you shouldn’t shake the bottle right before pouring. This will reduce the chances of air pockets getting trapped inside.
Remember the coolant reservoir has to be filled as well. Fortunately, this one is simple and you just need to open the reservoir cap and add the coolant to the point marked “cold fill.”
Get Rid Of Air From The Coolant Pump
You will need to start the engine to clear any air or air bubbles from the coolant pump. It’s possible that there’s still air inside, most likely in the sled’s coolant pump.
To do this, place a paper towel or something similar around the filler and take off the filler cap. This will assist in collecting any leaks. Start the engine and run it for a while in order to distribute the coolant thoroughly, and clear any air that could be trapped in the coolant pump.
After that, turn off the engine and give it some time to cool. Note that the coolant will expand after heating, so allowing it to cool down will enable you to add the necessary amount of coolant. After cooling, add the coolant to the main valve and then close it tightly.
At this point, you can rest assured there are no air bubbles in your snowmobile cooling system.
Things To Check For After Changing The Coolant In Your Snowmobile
Take a ride on your snowmobile to make sure everything is working as expected. Then open the valve cap once the engine has cooled to see if there is still enough coolant within. It will not decrease, most likely, but it is still a good idea to check the coolant level once after a ride.
However, in case the coolant has fallen below the recommended level, just go ahead and refill it. If you realize that the coolant keeps dropping, or you have added more of it than necessary, then you should check if there’s a leak in the sled cooling system.
Additionally, make sure the exchangers are heated. A return hose or heat exchanger that’s much cooler compared to the other hose or heat exchanger is a clear sign that there’s trapped air in the snowmobile‘s cooling system.
How To Check The Snowmobile Antifreeze level
If you want to check the antifreeze level on your snowmobile, you’ll need to remove the hood, which is usually held in place by a few screws. It is an easy process and you just need to remove the screws.
Once the hood is opened, just lift it up to have a complete view of your coolant reservoir. Depending on the type, brand, or year in which your snowmobile was fabricated, the reservoir may or may not include level lines. Some sleds are made without liquid-level lines on them.
Again, you may want to refer to your manual if you’re not sure about what you see. The right amount of antifreeze should be stated, or at least, there should be some indicators to follow.
After How Long Should You Replace The Antifreeze
Well, it’s best to check the user manual and adhere to the specifications of your snowmobile model. However, many snowmobile experts think 3-5 years is fine, whereas the majority of snowmobile manufacturers often recommend changing the coolant every two years.
It usually depends on your riding style. Otherwise, unless your engine is overheating, changing the coolant will hardly impact the snowmobile‘s performance.
Nonetheless, you should check the coolant on your sled before using it again if you let it sit for the entire summer. Likewise, you should keep an eye on the coolant level in older snowmobiles (more than five years old) as it could lead to rust and corrosive buildup in the machine, which would negatively impact performance.
In case you bought a secondhand snowmobile, then it means you don’t actually determine what type of coolant was used or how often it was changed.
In this situation, the best move is to completely flush the coolant and fill the machine with new fresh antifreeze. The same goes for snowmobiles older than five years or engines that operate at higher RPMs.
Where to Buy Antifreeze for Your Particular Snowmobile?
It’s possible to find antifreeze in any service store or snowmobile dealership. However, different brands will have different products- although the manufacturers might have that covered. You can find antifreeze purposely made for your specific type of sled.
Moreover, you can check their descriptions and chemical makeup to see whether they are suitable for your snowmobile– even though any antifreeze will most likely work for most machines. You should also consider whether you want to buy the main agent or a pre-mixed solution.
The best part about pre-mixed antifreeze gel is that it makes the process a bit easier, although it adds a few bucks to your purchase. However, if you want to buy the main agent, then you’ll need to make your own mixture normally at a ratio of 50:50 or 60:40 (antifreeze and water respectively).
Hopefully, you enjoyed this article on snowmobile coolant (antifreeze). As you can see, coolant is required to keep your snowmobile running in the winter as well as to prevent the engine from overheating. Having said that, you should always handle antifreeze carefully because such compounds can be toxic. They’re designed to help protect your machine and keep you riding, but they can also be harmful to you and the environment if used incorrectly.