The winter is here and so is your snowmobile. You take your snowmobile out for a spin and everything is fine. You take it out the next day and it won’t start. What do you do now?
Well, snowmobiling is a blast but it can also be a pain. Yes, riding in the snow can be a breeze with a snowmobile; however, when you have one that won’t start, it is a whole different story.
This is particularly the case if you live in a snow-covered region. Chances are you’ve been in a situation when you needed to use your snowmobile, but it wouldn’t start. And there are many reasons for this.
It could be a weak battery, a spark plug problem, a fuel line issue, air filters, or something else.
But, of course, there are many simple things you can do to make sure you’re able to start it. So, below, we will go over the most common reasons why your snowmobile won’t start when you need it to. We will also share some of the best possible solutions to these problems. Read on!
Check These Things If Your Snowmobile Isn’t Starting
A snowmobile may occasionally fail to start owing to a technical issue. But you don’t need to freak out whenever this happens; we’ll show you how to troubleshoot the issue in this article.
Besides, all of the instructions provided here are simple enough to grasp and execute, even for those who don’t have much knowledge of machine troubleshooting.
Having said that, some of the basic things to check if a snowmobile won’t start include fuel (fuel line), spark plugs, and compression. Most problems that prevent a snowmobile from starting can be traced back to one of these issues.
Listed below are the key things to check if your snowmobile won’t start. Keep an eye on the order in which we have listed the instructions as this is how most of these problems tend to occur. So it is recommended to follow them in that order.
Here’s a list of things to check if your snowmobile won’t start.
Check Fuel Issues
It’s not a surprise that you forgot you had cleared all the gas at the end of the previous season. That might sound absurd, but it does happen. For the past eight months or so, you’ve worked and played hard in other places; hardly snowboarding. Thus fuel issues are bound to occur.
And as you know, fuel can hinder your snowmobile from starting. First, check whether you have enough fuel in the tank. You should also verify that you didn’t engage the off switch accidentally.
Some models even feature a gasoline shut-off valve that, when turned off, will stop the sled from starting. These are just basic things that you should check.
However, if your snowmobile has sufficient fuel but still won’t start, try the next phase.
Clear the Fuel Lines
There might be clogged fuel lines. That means gas wouldn’t be able to enter the engine. It’s simple; The engine won’t start if the fuel system is blocked since fuel won’t get to it.
To resolve this, remove the hood enwrapping the motor and inspect the lines. If there is any coagulation along the gasoline line, you should manually clean it to allow for easy fuel flow.
- Engage the off switch and take out the spark plug to manually clean the gasoline lines.
- Draw the starter cord a few times while maintaining an open throttle.
- You might even check to confirm if the gasoline line is pumping out fuel.
- Fuel flowing through the lines means that they are not clogged.
- Put the spark plug back in its place and then try turning the engine.
- If that doesn’t work, go to the next step
The point here is to inspect your fuel primer or plunger for problems or just get a new one if what you have is broken. The flip side to this issue (which is the opposite of clogged fuel lines), is a dried-out fuel line. But we’ll talk about that later in this article.
Change The Oil and Fuel
Just like your snowblower, your snowmobile will likely be left unused for several months. And as you may already know, there is a shelf life for any gasoline-powered outdoor equipment.
That means your gas could still be stale even if you use a fuel stabilizer. It is recommended to run your equipment until it is completely depleted of fuel. But if rely simply on a stabilizer and shut-off valve, it could lead to issues. Empty the fuel tank and fill it with new fresh fuel.
Changing the oil in your snowmobile is just as important as it is to replace the oil in your car. Otherwise, oil and fuel will become stale if you leave them in the tank for a long period. But if staleness is what keeps your snowmobile engine from starting, then the fix is quite simple.
Just replace any used or old oil and fuel with new ones. It’s a simple step that can save you all the worry. However, if the snowmobile still won’t start, you should proceed to the next step.
Remove Fuel From the Engine
Now the point here is to remove fuel from the engine, not the fuel tank. We’ll explain how you can accomplish that and why it is important. First, your snowmobile engine will become over-choked if there is too much oil or fuel in it, and this will prevent it from starting.
Here’s how you can remove fuel from the engine and prevent over-chocking.
- Turn off the choke and remove the spark plug.
- Then close the shut-off valve for the fuel.
- After that run the engine several times to force/push all the extra fuel out of the system.
Note that failure to replace the oil over a long time might result in issues, including starting problems. You should also consider replacing the oil filter at the same time. But in case that doesn’t help either, move on to the next step. We might just have what you’re looking for.
Clogged or damaged air filter
A clogged or damaged air filter is another very common, yet often overlooked, cause of a snowmobile not starting up. A combustion engine also needs air to start, just like it does fuel.
A faulty or damaged air filter means that they will be less air in the combustion chamber than fuel. This will hinder the engine from taking in clean air, causing it to backfire.
There are many reasons why the air filter might become clogged, but dust and debris are one of the main issues with snowmobiles. They may build up on the air filter and clog it (usually during storage).
Nonetheless, the fix here is simple: replace the air filter. Besides, all air filters for all automobiles eventually need replacing after some time. And the same goes for snowmobiles. The air filter cannot be washed or cleaned for more use. So simply change the air filter.
The best part is that you can perform it yourself (depending on the model of your snowmobile) in about ten minutes without having to pay high maintenance costs.
Every time you change the engine oil, it’s best to change the air filter as well. This way, you won’t have to worry about working on it separately.
Faulty or Bad Fuel Pump
If you frequently experience power loss when traveling at high speeds or climbing hills, it may be a sign that your snowmobile’s fuel pump is malfunctioning. Another possible cause of the lack of power in these circumstances could be a constricted fuel line or other engine issues.
In this case, you’ll first need to check whether your snowmobile uses an electric fuel pump or a vacuum fuel pump. Some models employ a carburetor with an integrated vacuum fuel pump; this one operates via the vacuum created by the engine’s compression.
If you’ve got a vacuum pump, (the kind that operates with a carburetor) then you should check the vacuum line and make sure it is attached to the crankcase. Note that the fuel pump won’t function properly if the vacuum has any loose clamps, leaks, cracks, or is damaged.
The most effective and dependable solution is to swap out the damaged vacuum fuel pump with a new one. Depending on the model of your snowmobile, the cost can range from $20 to $60.
Electric fuel pumps are used by snowmobiles with Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) systems. There are two parts to this kind of system; a fuel pump and a motor that operates the fuel lines. There are two terminals in the fuel pump motor: positive and negative/ground terminal.
If your snowmobile has an EFI system, the pump motor needs to be in good working order for the fuel pump to function. Sometimes the terminals may develop a layer of carbon and dirt, weakening the electrical connection between the battery and the fuel pump.
Ensure the terminals are clean, free of carbon, corrosion, or other debris, and that they’re properly connected to the wires coming from the electrical system.
Additionally, check the positive wire or the fuse box for any inline fuses. Simply take out any blown fuses and get ones that are rated for the appropriate amps. Ensure sure the fuel line and electrical wires are in good condition. They shouldn’t be worn out or broken.
Moreover, the wires may become damaged when they rub against metal components. So consider replacing them if the engine won’t start.
Clean the Carburetor Using Starting Fluids
We had already mentioned dried-out fuel lines before, so here’s a more detailed explanation. A dried-out carburetor and fuel lines and clogged fuel filter could also cause your snowmobile engine not to start.
It’s normal for the snowmobile to have trouble starting and running if it hasn’t been used for a while, but you can easily resolve this by applying carburetor cleaner or starter fluid.
You may want to consider fixing or replacing the carburetor if the combustion chamber is not receiving any fuel.
The carburetor might become dry and accumulate dust, especially when left unused for an extended period of time. You’ll need to clean the carburetor; otherwise, the engine won’t start if this component is dry or dusty. Here’s how you can clean the carburetor:
- Spray starting fluid (for three seconds) into the carburetor’s inlet.
- Take care not to use too much starting fluid because doing so can harm the engine.
- In fact, the carburetor can be cleaned and lubricated with just three seconds of spraying.
- Then try starting the engine to check if the snowmobile is still functioning.
Carburetor or Clutch Settings
If your snowmobile struggles to start or won’t start, take a close look at your carburetor and clutch configuration. Even the height can affect how well your sled runs when you take it up slopes. This is something even experienced riders often fail to realize.
So, you might need to adjust your carburetor or clutch settings. Be careful not to over-choke the engine as well. You don’t want to end up with a flooded engine.
You can avoid this by giving the motor some time in between tries. However, a frequently flooding engine may also indicate that your carburetor needs to be cleaned or replaced.
Spark Plug Problems
It’s odd how such tiny engine components may determine whether a snowmobile lives or dies. Spark plugs basically ignite the fuel, supplying a powerful rush of raw power to your snowmobile. Therefore, if the spark is defective, you won’t be able to run the sled.
In other words, your snowmobile won’t start if the plug is damaged. You’ll definitely need to check if it is in excellent shape, and here’s how you can examine the spark plug‘s condition:
Start by removing the hood that covers the snowmobile’s engine so that you can easily examine the plug’s physical state. Any cuts, corrosion, or discoloration on the spark plug means that it is damaged.
In most cases, spark plugs‘ damages are caused by excessive engine vibration and heat. Otherwise if the spark plug and okay, you should be able to see the sparks it produces.
Here’s how you can make your plug start generating sparks and interpret those sparks:
- Remove the spark plug from the engine and ground it to the frame of the snowmobile.
- Keep the spark plug wire attached to the plug even when it is out of the engine.
- Then try to start your snowmobile and check whether the spark is producing sparks.
If there are no sparks being generated, or there are yellow sparks, then it means the plug is defective. But if you can observe blue sparks, then it means the spark plug is functional.
However, it’s good to note that spark plugs operate more effectively outside of the combustion chamber than they do within, thus blue sparks don’t always mean a healthy plug.
If the results of the tests mentioned above show that the spark plug is damaged, then you have to replace it. You should also make sure the spark plug wire is in good shape. The spark plug wire can become damaged when it rubs against sharp edges due to vibrations.
Likewise, if the spark plug wire has any cuts, just replace it.
A poor electrical system will make it difficult for the snowmobile to start. This is because now can melt near the hot engine and seep into the electrical system as a liquid. And this liquid will harm the components and corrode metal terminals.
Now, if there’s an electric issue, you’ll need to access the compartment housing the electrical system to troubleshoot the problem. Examine each wire and terminal thoroughly. Be on the lookout for signs such as corrosion, burns, cuts, broken insulations, and disconnections.
These sleds are mostly exposed to harsh outdoor elements. Even if they might have a shield covering key parts, it is always best to inspect them and make sure they’re fine.
Replace any damaged terminals or wires and reconnect any disconnections. Otherwise, if everything appears to be okay, but the engine won’t start, you should proceed to the next step.
Weak or Bad Battery
Remember like with the fuel, the battery on your snowmobile will sit unused for several months, and this inactivity can severely reduce a battery’s life cycle. Batteries typically last two to three years when used properly and if it is charged during the off-season.
However, an inactive one will lose energy and keep deteriorating within. You can protect your snowmobile’s battery by using a smart/trickle charger. It’s also a good idea to check the state of your connections and wiring as well as the voltage regulator.
You’ll realize that while newer models are mostly designed with an electric start whereby the motor spins to crank the engine, most older sled types still employ a pull-start mechanism.
But they’re both used to crank and start the engine.
However, if you own a newer snowmobile model that features an electric start, then a bad battery would not supply enough power to turn the motor and start the snowmobile.
Some older versions feature a fuel tank with pull starts mechanism that draws fuel from the gas tank for the engine. A faulty battery, in this case, would cause the fuel pump to fail, preventing gas from reaching and priming the engine. Thus, the snowmobile wouldn’t start.
So, what do you do if your snowmobile won’t start due to a weak battery?
Well, recharge or replace the battery. The most economical method is to recharge the battery to check if it is still functional. You have the battery recharged at a local auto repair shop.
When fully charged, you should then use a multimeter to verify the voltage of the battery. A fully charged 12-volt battery should show around 13 volts. However, if your snowmobile still won’t start even after charging the battery, then you might have to replace the battery.
Make sure the new battery has the ability to withstand the cold and meet your snowmobile’s cranking amp. You can get all this information in your snowmobile’s user handbook.
Replacing The Stator
A stator is basically a component within the snowmobile’s engine. Its main purpose is to create the electrical current needed for ignition. So if it’s broken, the engine won’t start.
If you have a brand new battery, and it is running out of power really quickly, it could be that your stator isn’t functioning properly. The stator is usually located inside the motor but you can locate it using the following steps.
- Start by opening the area where the motor is found.
- Try to find a component part that has numerous thin steel plates
- The plates should be joined closely to form a core.
- This core should be protected with a powder coating or plastic.
- Look out for the stator and inspect it carefully.
- It’s easy to identify a damaged stator.
Coat cracking, swelling plates, worn-out plates, cuts, bents, a missing wedge, burns, missing block, discoloration in the winding, etc; all are signs of a damaged stator.
The main factor causing these damages is overheating. Although manufacturers always try their best to shield the stator from intense heat, repeated use might still harm it nonetheless.
Simply replace the stator if you discover it to be defective.
Also, keep in mind that a good stator will cost you fairly. Even though you may purchase a cheap stator from the shop, it is preferable to spend more money on a high-quality model.
Cleaning the Stator Connector
After replacing the damaged stator, the next thing is to maintain the stator‘s connector. A poor connection might result in the engine producing too much heat, which would fry the recent replacement stator.
Remove the connector and scrape any rust off of it to help keep it in the best form. You also need to grease the contact points of the connector, preferably using dielectric grease.
The main function of dielectric grease is to stop further oxidation, which is the main reason for corrosion. Once you’re through cleaning, plug the connector back into the socket. Then start the engine to check how well it works.
Check the Cylinders and Gaskets for Problems
A damaged head gasket and faulty cylinder head could also be the culprit. Having little-to-no pressure in your cylinders would be one of the most alarming cases if your snowmobile won’t start. It is more likely, though, that the issues are not as severe, so don’t panic.
First, ensure the cylinder head nuts are tightened and then proceed to check the gaskets. Several reasons can cause the cylinder to stop working properly. This could be a blown head gasket, a poor crank seal, worn-out piston rings, leaks in the valve, a scored piston, or faulty head gaskets.
If the problem appears to be rather serious, you can use a compression tester to check for optimal compression, or simply get in touch with a shop that can service your snowmobile.
Take a good look at the gaskets to check for damage. If the gasket develops any issues, be sure to replace it. The cylinder is a little more tricky to inspect, but a compression tester can help.
Unfortunately, most of the cylinder problems involve repairing damaged components. But you can effectively rule out some of those problems, at least, by carrying out a compression test.
The Bottom Line
Winter is here and that means a lot of us are going to use our snowmobiles to get around. It might be just a simple ride to the grocery store or maybe you want to go over to visit a friend.
Otherwise, cold weather is a common cause of snowmobile issues. Just make sure the carburetor is clean and the spark plugs are in good working condition, and remember to run through the list of possible solutions as discussed.
Hopefully at least one of the steps got your snowmobile running again! However, if your snowmobile still won’t start, it may be a good idea to call the experts or someone trained to handle these kinds of situations to help get back on the trails as quickly as possible.