Snowmobile Tunnel: What They Are and How To Maintain Them


Ever heard of a snowmobile tunnel? If not, then you’ve come to the right place. Even if you know about snowmobile tunnels, you are bound to learn something new about them today. So keep reading.

Snowmobile tunnels are also known as running boards. You can find the tunnels on both sides of the sled, their function is to provide a place you can rest your feet as you ride. They allow you to stabilize yourself for better control as you’re riding the snowmobile.

It’s important you are familiar with all the parts of your snowmobile before going out for a ride. You definitely took the time to be familiar with certain parts of a car or motorcycle before actually operating them. The same should apply to your snowmobile. And you’ll find out there are benefits to knowing the parts of your machine.

For one, talking to fellow snowmobile enthusiasts will be a lot easier since you are already familiar with the proper terminology. Also, you’ll find it easy to isolate mechanical parts of your snowmobile.

What Is A Snowmobile Tunnel?

There are many snowmobile riders that do not know what a snowmobile tunnel is. Yet, they use the tunnel every time they ride their machines. Sometimes, you may hear people refer to tunnels as running boards. Both words still refer to the same thing.

  • Snowmobile tunnels are crucial to safe snowmobiling as they provide a place you can rest your legs when snowmobiling.
  • Tunnels can be found on both sides of your sled, so you have a place to put both of your legs.
  • Many snowmobile accidents have been caused by people not firmly putting their legs on the tunnel.

It’s important you do not allow snow to build up on your tunnel. Snow buildup on the tunnels usually leads to loss of foot traction and consequently loss of control.

It’s common to see riders modifying their snowmobile’s tunnels. Usually, they buy and install aftermarket tunnels that are specifically designed to reduce the build-up of snow. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the longevity of your tunnels.

Don’t just hack off your snowmobile tunnel. Carry out proper research to determine if there is a need to change it.

How Do You Clean A Snowmobile Tunnel?

You are probably wondering, ‘Why clean the tunnel?’ And the answer is to prevent corrosion and make the tunnel long-lasting. Snowmobile tunnels are usually made of metal and begin to degrade when exposed to the elements.

The speed of corrosion will depend on the quality material used to make the tunnel. Some materials are more corrosion resistant than others.

However, regardless of the material used to manufacture your snowmobile, you have to clean it properly from time to time so you’ll be using it for a long time.

Below is a step by step guide on how to clean your snowmobile’s tunnel.

1. Remove any buildup and grease from the surface of the tunnels

The first thing you have to do is to remove any buildup, particularly snow, from the surface of the tunnels. There may also be a buildup of dirt on the surface of the tunnels. Be sure to completely clear the tunnels’ surfaces. You may need a damp cloth or soft bristle brush to get rid of tough deposits.

You can’t just use any type of cleaner on the surface of your tunnels if you want them to last long. There are a number of cleaners out there specifically designed for the cleaning of snowmobiles.

Since most tunnels are made of aluminum, I like to use this Aluma Kleen Tunnel Cleaner (link to Amazon). It prevents aluminum corrosion, brightens the tunnel, and it’s non-toxic as well.

2. Clear the tunnels of any oxidation

You’ll need a specific snowmobile tunnel cleaner for this. There are literally dozens of snowmobile cleaners that promise you a clean and sparkling tunnel. Do your research and get your tunnel cleaner from a reputable brand.

  • It’s time to apply your snowmobile tunnel cleaner.
  • You should always apply the cleaner from the bottom and work your way up.
  • Then leave the cleaner for some time.
  • The degree of rusting/oxidation will determine how long you’ll leave the cleaner on the tunnels.
  • You could leave it for a couple of minutes if oxidation is low and for about 10-15 minutes If it’s really bad.

If streaking (appearance of lines of different colors) occurs on your snowmobile, reapply the cleaner and let it stay for longer. After that, your tunnel should be free from any discoloration.

3. Shine your tunnel

You may decide to polish your snowmobile tunnel after removing the oxidation. For that, you’ll need a snowmobile metal polish. You can then decide if you want to apply the polish with a polishing ball or not.

I like the polishing ball, but I get by just fine doing it by hand using this SledBrite Metal Polish (link to Amazon) and a terry cloth or rag.

If you’ll be using a polishing ball, you’ll also need a common drill. You have to use the polishing ball with a common drill.

  • The polish should be applied initially in two to four drops.
  • Then, it should be applied as needed.
  • It’s important to use the drill at low speeds initially.
  • Then, you can move on to higher speeds after the polish is absorbed.

Using a polishing ball might seem like a lot. If that’s the case, you can instead use a dry terry cloth towel to polish.

  • Put the towel over the mouth of the polish’s bottle and flip it over.
  • Then rub the towel over the tunnel until the polish changes to black.
  • Repeat until the entire tunnel surface has been polished.

Buff off with another dry terry cloth towel and your tunnel will be completely transformed.

Here’s a quick helpful video about cleaning and polishing a snowmobile tunnel so you can see the process in action:

How Do You Straighten A Snowmobile Tunnel?

Snowmobile tunnels are expensive and no one wants to have a reason to replace them. The reason why most people have to replace their snowmobile’s tunnel Is when it bends.

So, you have a bent tunnel. Well, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to discard your tunnel. You can still straighten your tunnel and get it back in good condition.

The truth is, even after straightening, your tunnel will never be completely straight and it’ll also be slightly weakened from being stressed beyond its yield strength.

But if you straighten your tunnel right, you’ll be saving yourself the cost of buying a brand new tunnel.

  • You’ll need a 2×4 rubber mallet.
  • This mallet will then be used to lightly tap the bent aluminum into place.
  • This has to be done right, so be careful when doing this.
  • It’s advisable you pull the aluminum back together by using rivets.
  • Or use a tunnel reinforcement plate.

Here’s a video showing an inventive way to straighten a tunnel:

Another alternative is to take your snowmobile to a body shop. There, your tunnel will be straightened using the machine that pulls uni-bodies straight. Adding some feet hooker side braces will be beneficial.

Functions/Benefits Of A Snowmobile Tunnel

Snowmobile tunnels sort of act like a step. They make it easy for riders to get on and off their snowmobiles. Shorter people will especially find a snowmobile tunnel helpful. Then, it provides a place for riders to comfortably rest their legs when the snowmobile is in motion.

Also, a snowmobile tunnel will protect your snowmobiles and the rider from rocks and other debris as you travel. Your snowmobile will throw out all sorts of rocks and debris as it moves over ice and snow. It is your tunnel that keeps that debris from damaging the side panels of your machine.

Lastly, snowmobile tunnels can be stylish. You can easily customize your tunnel. There are tons of aesthetically pleasing tunnels out there. These tunnels have visually interesting colors and different eye-catching patterns. Also, you can add LED lights to your snowmobile’s tunnel. How cool is that?!

Rob

That's me sinking another ATV. I love to ride no matter what it is, snowmobiles, four wheelers, dirt bikes, and anything else off-roading. I've experienced my fair share of machines, and like to share that experience here.

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