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Sled Prep: How do you clean your snowmobile?


(3/22/2020)

As I look around the interwebs, I see reoccurring, common questions. One of them, "What should I use to clean XXXXXX?"  I love to detail vehicles! I've been cleaning quite a few lately on the ArcticInsider Dealer Demo Tour.  Ill share a few of the products I use on those snowmobiles. Share your tips in the comments.

Don't Ride Like Rodney

We're gonna pick on our buddy Rodney. Mud means nothing to him, and to us either if you know how to clean it off. I've always subscribed to the theory that clean machines, are happy machines. A little polish goes a long way to help increase your resale and wow factor.

AI go-to cleaning products: Mothers VLR, Mothers Back-to-Black, Lemon Pledge, Quality car wash soap, and some quality drying towels and Terry cloth rags

My primary go-to cleaning products are sitting here. (L-R) Mothers VLR Spray, Mothers Back-to-Black plastic restorer, Lemon Pledge, a quality car wash soap, quality drying towels, and not pictured, terry cloth rags.

I also like using Mothers aluminum polish with a fine steel wool for cleaning up aluminum pieces. 

FYI - Im not an aluminum tunnel polisher. There's not enough quarantine time in the world for me to start that craziness. (Talk amongst yourselves)

Clean out Storage Bags

Before I start washing, I typically clean out all the storage bags. You never know what you'll find at seasons end, and you surely don't want creepy surprises in the fall. (Fish sammiches etc. Is that a horseshoe?)

Start by giving your snowmobile a bath.

I start with giving the sled a good bath. In this case, one of the 2021 Riot X models I've been hauling around on the ArcticInsider Dealer Demo Tour. Don't be bashful with the car soap. Get a good bucket and nice terry cloth wash mit.

Before you wash, give the sled a good rinse to get dirt out of running boards, skis, skidframe, track, and inside tunnel.

Spray off excess dirt from skidframe before washing. You want to keep your wash mit as clean as possible

If you use scratchers, like my 2020 Riot X, they kick up alot of "shtuff" into your skidframe. Spray all that garbage out before you start washing. This also keeps your wash mit clean of gritty dirt that scratches delicate surfaces like side panels and graphics.

Light colored panels attract dirt as well as scum from brakes, clutches and exhaust. Don't worry, that's easy to clean!

Once you give your sled a bath, you might have stains like this (above) on light colored panels from grease, exhaust or brake and clutches. Don't panic! This is an easy clean job! This is where I turn to Magic Erasers and Mother's VLR cleaner. If the stains are really stubborn, I also like to use Bleche-White tire cleaner with a Magic Eraser.

These stains will pretty much wipe right off after a liberal dousing of cleaner. FYI - Buy multiple Magic Erasers. They get fragile when using on jagged surfaces like running boards.

After hitting side panels with Mothers VLR and a Magic Eraser

Above is an AFTER photo using Mothers VLR cleaner, then scrubbing with Magic Eraser, then wiping clean with Terry Cloth rag. After you clean off all grime to your satisfaction, spray the entire snowmobile with Lemon Pledge and use clean terry cloth rags to polish and wipe it dry.

Lemon Pledge sounds weird, but its the best wax and brings out the sheen in your plastics. (If you go to a snowmobile show, all the OEMs use Pledge.)

Terry cloth rags are also key...they don't scratch plastic surfaces with swirl marks, and you can literally buy a dozen of them for a handful of dollars at stores like Menards.

Mothers VLR Cleaner and Magic Erasers clean up seat, plastic and metal surfaces.  

Before Runnings Boards

Regular riding produces alot of garbage from all snowmobile orifices. Most metal surfaces clean up nice after a bath and some Lemon Pledge.

After running boards cleaned up

 

All cleaned up and ready for the Show or Storage

Above the 2021 Riot X is all cleaned up and final polished with Lemon Pledge for the next Show or Summer Storage.

 

OTHER TIPS:

Gasket maker applied to exhaust springs decreases chances of them breaking

This season, I broke two exhaust springs that hold the pipe to the manifold on my 2020 Riot X. This can be somewhat common for any snowmobile. One old cross-country race trick is to apply a high-temp gasket maker to the expanded spring coils to reduce chance of breaking.

If you are going to take off your hood when cleaning up for summer storage, this is a good time to check those springs.

Drain the gas for summer or not?

Everyone does things differently when it comes to treating gas in their snowmobile for summer storage. I think we can all agree though, that gas these days has a shelf life about as long as a roll of toilet paper at the grocery store currently.  How you treat it is up to you.

I don't like fuel stabilizers like Stabil, so I drain as much gas out of my sleds at the end of the season as possible. (A kerosene syphon works pretty good and only costs a couple dollars at the hardware store.) I then replace with a gallon of AvGas (100LL) and then run it for a minute or two to cycle into the system.

You can get 100LL at any small town airport. It never goes bad, and if you have carburetors, they'll stay clean reducing carb cleans. I use it in vintage sleds, lawnmowers, string trimmers, backpack blowers...you name it. Never a problem, and always quick starting after storage. (Again, talk amongst yourselves) 




Comments (17):

Ryan says:
3/23/2020 6:15:00 AM

Good tips. I’ve had issues with exhaust stains on bellypans. I never thought of magic erasers. I’ll try that with a degreaser. Got any thoughts on fogging engines on new sleds?
Tim says:
3/23/2020 7:12:00 AM

I don't fog my sleds and both are 3yrs old. I usually treat the gas with Stabil LOL and park them for the summer. They are stored in a climate controlled garage though. Ive never had a problem.
Chap says:
3/23/2020 7:15:00 AM

Can those exhaust springs be reused after adding silicone?
Sam says:
3/23/2020 7:28:00 AM

That Mother's Back to Black spray is fantastic! The aerosol is far better than the gel. Hard to find though. I buy on Amazon in bulk. Like Franks Hot sauce, I use that Sh!t on everything! Hahaha. Works great on all colors of plastic especially textured surfaces like belly pans. Ive taken some garbage looking plastics and made them look near new. Great to see others using it. I better go collect my endorsement check from Mothers. Hahaha
2020 Riot Owner says:
3/23/2020 7:47:00 AM

Another way to clean your sled is to peel off all those stupid warning stickers!
JimR says:
3/23/2020 9:55:00 AM

Great article as always. How about an article on the changes that were done to the 2021's compared to the 2020's, as in pictures of what has changed on the sleds?
I Bleed Green! says:
3/23/2020 12:33:00 PM

I have heard of the AvGas thing, and have access to it, but found that the BEST way to stabilize fuel, and a cheap way, is to add a few ounces of oil. That's it. I put say 1 oz to a gallon of gas and run the machine to get it into the system. I also start my sleds once a month or so, but that's a personal thing. I like to hear the pipe, and smell the exhaust.
hugh says:
3/23/2020 1:23:00 PM

Magic Erasers will destroy a shiny surface pronto so choose where you use the wisely.
Bulldog says:
3/23/2020 1:53:00 PM

I do everything you mentioned accept I use Stabil in the little bit of gas left in the tank after siphoning.

I also like to use compressed air to blow the belt dust out of the primary clutch. I then spray just a touch of heavy duty silicon spray on the weight pivots and the primary shaft before putting it on a stand to run it a little to work it in.

I also hit all the grease zerks in the skid frame to push any moisture out that may have gotten in during the season and check for any loose bolts, shredded wheels or any other issues under there so they can be addressed before next season.
russ says:
3/23/2020 7:35:00 PM

Can I just bring my sled to your shop, and have you do it?
Kevin says:
3/24/2020 6:13:00 AM

I also spray all metal except clutches with wd40 to prevent oxidation during the humid summer months
Kale says:
3/24/2020 9:47:00 AM

Ryan - Personally, I've never fogged an engine. Maybe someone here can share Pros/Cons of doing it.

Chap - Yes, the exhaust springs are reusable once applying gasket maker.

Bulldog - Great Tips! After detailing, I do the same.

Russ - I'd be happy to detail your sled(s)!

Kevin - That's a great tip for protecting metal parts. I use Yamalube's Silicone and Protectant spray. It's marketed towards the marine industry, but works great to coat on engine, A-Arms and Skidframes. Protects from rust and oxidation and dries nicely making parts look like new. Great stuff.
CHRIS says:
3/24/2020 4:48:00 PM

How did you learn to clean orifices so well? Or even spell it correct. LOL
Bobby Flame says:
3/25/2020 10:34:00 AM

Hey how do you guys clean wood chips out of your sled after a filthy steez session?
Rodney Dragan says:
3/25/2020 12:31:00 PM

Yes, I still have that Pantera in my collection. Adult ridden, no scratches, nice seat, stored inside. Super clean! Polished with the best available carnuba palm tree leaves. It's been relegated to guest sled duty for many, many, years. I actually put about 45 miles on it this season. Oh boy!!! That Prowler platform is something everyone should experience!!
Nubsy says:
3/25/2020 7:48:00 PM

I know Rodney. That guy can't have anything nice.
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