How to Start a Snowmobile That Has Been Sitting

If you own a snowmobile, you’ve probably been there. The snowmobile has been sitting dormant throughout the summer and you haven’t started it once. When you try – nothing. It’s a frustrating situation, but not an uncommon one. Ideally, you should try to run engines at least once a week to prevent this kind of problem. But not many people set aside the time to do that. 

If you’re dealing with a snowmobile that won’t start after sitting for a long time, don’t despair. In this article, you’ll find the most common causes and how to address them.

You Need a Spark

You probably don’t need to be told this, but if your spark plugs aren’t sparking, you won’t be able to start your engine. Therefore, start by checking your spark plugs. 

Testing the spark plugs is a pretty simple process. Take out the spark plug and plug it into its cap and ground the plug on the engine. So any part of the plug threading should be touching an exposed part of the engine. Then, turn the engine over. What you’re looking for is a good, strong spark. If the spark is weak or it doesn’t fire at all, you should replace your spark plugs.

If you’re not getting a spark and it still doesn’t start after replacing the plugs, then you likely have an electrical problem. This could come down to a number of problems that are outside the scope of this article, but you can start with a visual inspection of all the wiring and caps looking for deterioration or oxidation. 

You Need Fuel

If any engine sits for too long, it will dry up and that will make it more difficult to start again. To check if this is a problem, get some starting fluid. (*Always be sure to follow manufacturer’s recommendations when doing this.)

Your goal is only to give the engine a little extra help out of the hole with the starting fluid. Spray it into the carburetor intake and turn the engine. It should start at least momentarily. If it shuts off after burning off the starting fluid, it means you’re not getting enough gas coming in. 

if this happens a few times, your carburetor probably needs to be cleaned. It’ll probably take a good tear down and rebuild to clean it well and get it back into working condition. 

You Need Compression

If you’re not getting enough compression in your cylinders, the gas/air mixture isn’t reaching optimal conditions to ignite. This problem could be quite complicated to resolve, so you should be absolutely sure that none of the other issues are present. 

You’ll need a compression tester to check if the compression is adequate. Low compression can be caused by many problems, but most frequently it’s worn out piston rings or any of a number of valve problems. You’ll probably need to take it in for servicing if this is the case.

Don’t Neglect Your Sled

Those are the most common causes of problems starting a snowmobile when it’s been sitting for a long time. Hopefully, it’s a simple matter of changing the spark plugs, because if it comes down to low compression, you’re in for a bit of work. 

Again, the best way to solve these issues is to avoid them in the first place. Make sure you’re running your engine every week throughout the off-season, and you’ll keep it nice and healthy for when it’s time to get back on the snow.