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Snowmobile Won’t Start: Step by Step Troubleshooting Guide

Snowmobile Won’t Start: Step by Step Troubleshooting Guide

Sometimes, a snowmobile won’t start due to some technical faults. You don’t need to panic whenever your snowmobile fails to start, because we will show you the troubleshooting steps in this article.

The main things to start checking when a snowmobile won’t start is the spark, fuel, and compression. Most issues causing a snowmobile to have trouble starting can be traced back to one of those problems.

All the instructions here are simple enough to follow along, even for people who don’t have any previous experience with machine troubleshooting.

Things to Check If Your Snowmobile Won’t start

You should check the things we have listed below if your snowmobile won’t start. Kindly note that it’s best to follow the instructions in the order that we have arranged, as this is the order in which the most common issues are found. Here are the things you should check.

Check Fuel Issues

Fuel can hinder your snowmobile from starting. At first, you should verify whether you have enough fuel in the tank. Also, it would help if you confirmed whether you didn’t engage the off switch accidentally.

Some machines even have a fuel shut-off valve that will prevent the sled from starting if set to off. These are common things to check but you’d be surprised how easy it is to miss something simple.

If you have enough fuel, but the snowmobile still doesn’t start, then you should do the following:

Clear the fuel lines

If there is a blockage along the fuel lines, fuel will not reach the engine, so it won’t start. Carefully detach the hood that covers the engine and inspect the fuel lines. If you notice any coagulation along the fuel line, then you should clear it manually so that fuel can flow easily.

  • To clear fuel lines manually, you should engage the off switch and remove the spark plug.
  • After that, you should pull the starter cord several times while keeping the throttle open.
  • You could even check to see fuel flowing from the fuel line.
  • If fuel can move through the fuel lines, then it’s not clogged.
  • Return the spark plug in its place and start the engine again.
  • If it doesn’t start, then move to the step below.

Here’s a helpful video showing how to troubleshoot and replace fuel lines if you find that’s the issue:

Replace the fuel and oil

If you keep fuel and oil in your tank for a very long period, they will become stale. If staleness is the problem, then the solution is quite simple.

Replace the old fuel and oil with fresh ones. This simple step can save you from unnecessary stress. However, if the problem persists, then you should perform the step below.

Remove fuel from the engine

Kindly note that you are to remove fuel from the engine and not the fuel tank. We will explain how you can do that and tell you why it’s essential. If the fuel in the engine is too much, the engine will get over-choked (flooded), so it won’t start. Several reasons can cause excess fuel to get into the engine.

  • Here is how you can remove fuel from your engine and stop over-choking.
  • Remove the spark plug and turn off the choke.
  • Turn off the fuel shut-off valve.
  • Turn the engine over multiple times to push all the excess fuel out of the engine.

Clean the carburetor with starting fluid

The carburetor can dry out and absorb dust, especially when you abandon your snowmobile for a long period. A dry or dusty carburetor may prevent the engine from starting, so you need to clean it.

  • Spray starting fluid in the carburetor’s inlet for three seconds.
  • Be careful not to use excess starting fluid because an excess of it can damage the engine.
  • Three seconds of spraying is enough to clean and lubricate the carburetor.
  • Start the snowmobile to see if it’s working now.

Here’s a quick video showing the complete cleaning of a snowmobile carburetor if you need more than just some starting fluid spray:

Check Spark Plug Issues

A snowmobile won’t start if the spark plug is damaged, so you need to check whether the spark plug inside your snowmobile is still in good condition. Here is how you can check the condition of the spark plug.

Remove the hood that covers the snowmobile’s engine and examine the physical condition of the plug. If you notice any cut, corrosion, or discoloration, then it means the plug is damaged.

Most of the time, excessive heat and vibration from the engine are responsible for these kinds of damage. In case you didn’t notice any damage, then you should observe the spark that the plug produces.

Here is how you can make the plug to generate sparks and interpret them.

  • Take the Spark plug out of the engine and ground it to the snowmobile’s frame.
  • Please make sure the spark plug wire is still connecting to the plug even while it is out of the engine.
  • Now try to start the snowmobile and observe if the plug produces sparks.

If it doesn’t produce any spark or it produces yellow sparks, it means the plug is bad. If it produces blue sparks, it means the plug is good.

Kindly note that plugs perform better outside the combustion chamber than they perform inside the chamber, so blue sparks don’t always indicate a good plug.

After carrying out the tests above, if the results indicate that the spark plug is damaged, then you need to replace it. Also, you need to check the spark plug wire and make sure it’s in good condition.

Vibrations can cause the spark plug wire to rub against sharp edges and hence destroys it. Replace the spark plug wire if you notice any cuts on it.

Here’s a quick video with some more spark plug troubleshooting if you think that’s your issue. If you keep fouling plugs, this is a helpful video for you:

Check Electrical Issues

A faulty electrical system will hinder the snowmobile from starting. Since snowmobiles get exposed to snow a lot of times, snow can melt around the hot engine and seep into the electrical system in the form of liquid. Of course, the liquid will corrode metal terminals and cause other damage.

To detect this kind of issue, you need to open the compartment where the electrical system is located. Carefully inspect all the wires and terminals. Watch out for things like corrosion, burns, damaged insulations, cuts, and disconnections.

Reconnect any disconnection and replace any damaged terminal or wire. If the engine doesn’t start even when everything looks clean, then you should perform the next step.

Replace the stator

A stator is a component inside the snowmobile’s engine. It is the stator that generates electrical current for ignition, so the engine can’t start if it is faulty.

If your brand new battery dies in a short amount of time, it’s a good indication that your stator isn’t doing its job.

In most models of snowmobile, the stator is located inside the motor. Here is how you can spot the stator.

  • Open up the area where the motor is located.
  • Look for a component with several thin steel plates.
  • The plate should join closely to form a core, and the core should have a powder coating or plastic protection.
  • Once you locate the stator, you should observe it very closely.
  • A damaged stator is easy to detect.

The stator is damaged if you notice a missing wedge, missing block, burns, coat cracking, discoloration in the winding, worn-out plates, swollen plates, bents, and cuts.

Overheating is the primary cause of these damages. Manufacturers always do their best to protect the stator from extreme heat, but its prolonged usage sometimes damage it despite the protection.

Here’s a quick video to help you identify and test your stator:

If you notice that the stator is faulty, replace it immediately. Kindly note that a quality stator will cost you a fair amount. Although you can get a cheap stator from the store, it may become faulty within a short time, so it is better to buy a quality one.

Clean the stator’s connector

Now that you have replaced the faulty stator, you need to keep the stator’s connector in good condition also. A bad connection can cause the engine to generate excess heat and hence fry the newly replaced stator.

To keep the connector in good condition, remove it and scrape any rust away from it. Also, you should apply dielectric grease to the connector’s contact points.

The purpose of the dielectric grease is to prevent further oxidation, which is the primary cause of corrosion. Plug the connector back in its place once you are done with the cleaning. Start the engine to see whether it is working well.

Check issues within the cylinders and gaskets

Look at the gaskets very closely to see if it is damaged. Replace the gasket if you notice any problem with it. The cylinder is a bit hard to examine, but a compression tester can make the job easier to do.

The cylinder can stop functioning properly due to a number of reasons. Some of these reasons include leakages in the valve, worn-out piston rings, holes in the piston, and bad crank seal.

Unfortunately, most of the issues within cylinders require you to replace the faulty parts. However, you can perform a compression test to at least rule out all of those issues.

Here’s a Snowmobile Compression Tester Kit (link to Amazon) that you’ll need to test the compression of the engine. For around 40 bucks, it’s a worthwhile investment.

Here’s a video showing a compression test on a sled with 13,000 miles. If the engine has no compression, it won’t run.

Other Things You Should Do Regularly

You can save yourself from unnecessary stress if you do the following regularly:

  • Use only high-quality engine oil.
  • If you don’t have plans to use your snowmobile anytime soon, ensure you store it in a dry area and add fuel stabilizer.
  • Warm up the snowmobile at least once every two weeks.
  • Keep the battery on a trickle charger when not in use.

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