Snowmobile Hard To Start? 5 Causes and Fixes

A snowmobile that won’t start can be frustrating, especially if you’re using it after a long summer break. Sometimes, your snowmobile may suddenly stop running, even though there’s enough fuel. Since there can be multiple reasons why your snowmobile doesn’t start, you’ll have to identify the root cause of the issue for a proper fix. 

If your snowmobile is hard to start, it could be due to a flat battery, worn out spark plugs, faulty clutch, low engine compression, clogged fuel systems, or a flooded engine. Solutions include replacing the battery and spark plugs, adjusting the clutch settings, and fixing the engine compression. 

In this article, we will look into the common reasons behind your snowmobile’s failure to start. We will also discuss steps to fix each problem and offer useful tips to help you avoid some of the issues. Let’s get started. 

  1. The Battery Is Old or Flat

Most older snowmobiles have a pull start mechanism, while the newer models sport an electric start. One reason why your snowmobile won’t start may be because the battery is either too old or just flat. As a result, the battery might not contain enough power to start the engine. 

Interestingly, this is usually the main reason for snowmobiles not starting, and yet most people won’t check if their battery is charged or not! 

To avoid finding yourself in this situation, always ensure to check your snowmobile battery at the beginning of every winter season and replace it if necessary.

How To Fix

Start by charging your battery at home or taking it to one of the local repair shops for a recharge. If the problem lies within the battery, it will be easy to fix.

The battery should only take 4-6 hours to charge. When it’s done, use a multimeter to check the voltage after charging. It should be around 12-13 volts. 

However, if you find that the snowmobile is still having trouble starting, you will need to replace the battery. A new battery will fix your starting issues now and give you peace of mind for the next few years. 

The price of a snowmobile battery is around $150, but you may find cheaper ones depending on your budget. Be sure to check whether or not the new battery meets the requirements of your snowmobile before making a purchase. 

Here are two of the best selling snowmobile batteries on Amazon: 

  • Polaris Snowmobile Battery (from Amazon.com): This is one of the cheaper models available. However, it’s highly reliable. 
  • Banshee YTX20L-BS, Lithium Motorcycle Battery (from Amazon.com): This battery comes with a higher price tag than the average snowmobile battery, but it lasts up to 3 times longer. It also charges quite rapidly, allowing you to get your snowmobile up and running much faster after the battery dies. 

2. The Spark Plugs Are Worn Out

Spark plugs are a very likely culprit to consider if your snowmobile will not start. They are a key engine component and are responsible for the spark that burns the fuel to run the sled. If these are faulty, then the engine will most certainly not start. Luckily, they are relatively cheap to replace as compared to other engine parts. 

How To Fix

Here’s how to fix your worn out spark plugs:

  1. Get a new spark plug that matches the one that’s worn out. 
  2. Remove the engine cover and find the old spark plug. 
  3. Once you’ve located the old spark plug, find the right-sized plug socket that fits over the plug — it should be a 6-9 inch ( 15.24 – 22.86 cm)  socket. 
  4. Replace the plugs. 
  5. Screw the new plug securely in place and you should be good to go. 

3. The Engine Compression Is Low

Most snowmobiles, like cars, work on the principle of compression. Gasoline and air combine in a combustion chamber where the mixture is ignited with a spark, and the combustion makes the vehicle move. Thus low combustion means that your snowmobile will have very little power or won’t even start.

Use a compression gauge extension to check whether the issue you are dealing with is indeed low compression before moving to fixing it. Note that anything under 120-110 PSI per cylinder means the engine has low compression. 

How To Fix

The best option when fixing a low engine compression problem is to take it to a trusted mechanic to locate and assess the severity of the problem. Hopefully, it will turn out to be nothing major. You’ll just need some engine compression restoration treatment products and these are easily available from the mechanic. 

However, if the problem persists, it is highly likely that a gasket seal within the engine is broken and needs to be replaced. This will be a bit expensive and time-consuming but ultimately cheaper than buying a new engine or snowmobile. Still, it is a significant problem because the mechanic will have to remove the whole engine to replace the broken seal before putting the engine back in.

4. The Engine Is Flooded

It is possible that you have flooded your engine with gasoline due to over priming it. This could become a major problem if not identified quickly and fixed. With a flooded engine, you should be able to smell a gasoline odor coming from your engine or notice gasoline coming out of the exhaust. 

Sometimes the gasoline will eventually evaporate. Fortunately, there is a way to fix it quicker.  

How To Fix

To fix a flooded engine:

  1. Start by cutting off the power from the engine. 
  2. Take out the spark plugs and have them replaced. 
  3. Pull the starter cord at least 20 times to flush out any remaining gas in the starters.
  4. You are now good to go. 

5. There’s a Problem With the Carburetor and Clutch Settings

The carburetor can dry up if it hasn’t been used in a while, which may explain why you cannot start your snowmobile. 

A carburetor is a piece in the engine that mixes the gasoline and air in a specific ratio to be combusted. Suppose you haven’t started your snowmobile in a while, or you’ve taken it to a higher altitude. In that case, you may find that the carburetor is probably dried up.

How To Fix

The carburetor has an adjustable setting to change the air to fuel ratio. This means that if you have gone to a higher altitude where it is colder, you’ll need to adjust the setting to allow for more fuel than air. 

However, be patient when adjusting these settings to avoid damaging the engine. Wait a couple of seconds or minutes before each starting attempt and change the settings only if it fails to start multiple times. 

Also, it’s important to note that you should always read the manual before changing any settings in the snowmobile to avoid engine damage. If you’re not familiar with these settings, get help from an expert.

Summary

Snowmobiles can have trouble starting because of battery problems, engine issues, or the wrong carburetor settings. However, the most common cause of snowmobiles failing to start is a flat battery.

Although we’ve looked at the common fixes to snowmobile problems, it may take time before you’re able to master them. 

It can be frustrating if your snowmobile won’t start, but the fix is simple in most cases. Also, if you’re a DIY enthusiast, you may enjoy fixing your snowmobile by yourself. However, if you don’t have the expertise or want to save time, consider getting an expert to fix it.

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