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With the snowmobile season in full swing, it’s time for a mid-season maintenance check on your Ski-Doo snowmobile to ensure you get the most out of every ride this season. Ski-Doo Brand Ambassador Rob Koenig walks you through a few simple steps to keep “That Ski-Doo Feeling” going strong.
PROPER CHAIN TENSION AND CHAINCASE OIL CHANGE
It’s always a good idea to check your chain tension periodically throughout the season. During initial break-in the chain will stretch. Tightening to the proper tension is extremely easy and essential to ensuring optimal performance and longevity of your Ski-Doo snowmobile. All you need is a T-25 torx bit found in your sled’s tool kit.
*Note: You may have to remove your sled’s cotter pin in order to get the tension bolt to spin.
Changing your chaincase oil is nearly as easy. The recommended interval for the first chaincase oil change is sometime between the first 300-500 miles. Small metallic filings from the parts wearing or breaking in together may be present within the chaincase. Changing the oil early on removes these from the chaincase helping to ensure worry-free operation for many miles to come.
After the initial chaincase oil change, swapping for fresh XPS Synthetic oil after every season is always recommended, but if you forget, be sure to do it in the fall.
PRO TIP 1: Cold oil thickens up. Performing this in a warm shop will make the process go much smoother. Fill chaincase with fresh oil slowly. It takes a minute for the fresh oil to travel to the bottom of the case to get an accurate fill reading at the sight hole.
PILOT TS SKI CARBIDE REPLACEMENT
Early-season riding can be rough on your carbides. After a few hundred miles of low snow, trail hazards and road crossings, you might notice your steering is not as sharp as it used to be. Time for a carbide change. Luckily, changing them out or upgrading to a more robust one for Pilot 5.7 skis is easy. Or changing to a longer Pilot TS Ski carbide is a simple process detailed in the above video.
ADJUSTING BELT DEFLECTION
Proper belt deflection is essential to maximizing sled performance as well as belt life. Follow these simple steps to ensure your belt has the proper amount of deflection.
Push in on the belt on both sides midway between primary and secondary. A properly adjusted belt should move inward 1.25”. Any more and belt deflection is too loose. Any less and deflection is too tight. Using the adjustor tool attached to your belt guard, loosen the allen head bolt on the adjustment ring. If the belt deflection is loose and sitting lower than normal in the secondary, tighten the ring clockwise to raise the belt and lower deflection. The opposite if the belt is too tight.
Remember, belt deflection is set by pushing in on the sides of the belt, not setting an arbitrary height in the secondary. Height in the secondary is just a starting point. Each belt has slightly different manufacturing tolerances and must be adjusted independently. After making an adjustment to the adjustment ring, rotate the secondary counterclockwise (same direction as when riding forward) a few turns to allow the belt to raise or lower to the new adjusted height.
PRO TIP: A jack stand makes this procedure much easier by raising the track off the ground. Keep making minor adjustments and rotating the secondary until you have the belt deflection set at 1.25”. Retighten the allen head bolt and you’re done.
REAR SUSPENSION CHECKUP
Visually inspect all idler and rear axle wheels for any missing rubber. Idler wheels can be easily checked for loose or tight bearings by raising the sled to take weight off of the wheels and spinning. If you hear grinding or wheels do not spin freely, it’s time to replace.
Grease zerks in the suspension are minimal on the newer chassis, but still need to be lubricated. I like to do mine after every riding season to purge any moisture out and have fresh grease for storage and the next riding season. High mileage riders may have to add grease during the riding season. It’s not recommended to mix types of grease, so I stick with the XPS Suspension grease for cold weather and moisture resistance, which comes in 14 oz. tubes, standard for any grease gun.
PROPER TRACK TENSION
Track tension and alignment are essential adjustments to every snowmobile. This prevents excessive wear and increases driveline efficiency (more mileage and top end!) Start with tension and finish with alignment.
1. Raise the sled with a jackstand to get the track off the ground. I like to do this with a warmed-up motor and track that has been run a bit prior. If not, spin the track for a bit to get it stretched out if it’s been sitting.
2. Now take a look at track tension by examining how low the track sits at the lowest point. Ski-Doo has recommended specifications of 13-19 lbs. of down-force and 1.26” of distance between the track and bottom of the slider shoe (hyfax). My technique has always been the top of the track clip (clip with 90-degree side) even with the bottom of the hyfax. Easily done anywhere when on a trip with very few tools. Tracks stretch, especially when new, and need to be tightened after a few hundred initial miles and then periodically after that.
3. To adjust track tension, remove the rubber covers from the two rear axle wheels. There is a slot in the edge of the rubber cover for a wide flat blade screwdriver, so you don’t damage them. Technique: I put these in my pocket if cold outside to keep them pliable and easier to reinstall.
4. Loosen the rear axle bolts on each side with a 16mm socket. I use two ratchets with 16mm sockets and loosen both bolts simultaneously because the bolts are in the same internal shaft and one may come loose before the other and spin the shaft.
5. Now with a 10mm socket adjust the adjustment screw on each side of the sled evenly to set track tension as specified in Step 2.
6. Once track tension is set, run the sled and rotate the track a few revolutions and let it coast to a stop (no brake – it can pull the track out of alignment). Measure with a feeler gauge or something you can use as a gauge (I’ve used two stacked quarters before in the field) and check gap between the side of the 90-degree track clips and hyfax edge. The goal is to be even on both sides.
PRO TIP: As you tighten a tension bolt, the track will move closer to the hyfax. As you loosen, the track moves away from the hyfax. I look again at the track tension visually and decide which side I want to adjust to make it even. Do this in quarter turn increments, spin the track a few revolutions and recheck. Adjust as necessary.
7. Tighten the rear axle bolts and reinstall your rubber caps and that’s it!
PRO TIP: This is also a great opportunity to rotate the track and inspect for any damaged lugs or bent studs if studded. I will not ride with a bent stud because the bent stud can act as a lever against the ground and will lip-up the head of the stud on the inside of the track. This can bang continuously against the idler wheels until it takes chunks out of the rubber or completely removes the rubber on the wheel. One last note: Dull studs are just dead weight. Replace as necessary. I keep a bag of extra studs and backer plates for just that reason with a few in my tool kit that I bring along on sled trips.