Did you know proper storage and tuning methods can help to make your snowmobile season more enjoyable? Every autumn, anticipation builds as the days get shorter and colder, while another season of snowmobiling approaches. You are obviously ready to hit the trails, but is your sled ready? Here are some tips for you to get the best performance from your snowmobile this winter.
When preparing to start the sled for the first time of the season, check the fuel. Is the gas tank full and treated with fuel stabilizer, or is it completely drained? When storing fuel, conditions such as high humidity and high temperatures can cause excess moisture (water) in the tank. Treating fuel with a high-quality fuel stabilizer should help reduce moisture formation in the fuel. Completely draining, or running the gas tank dry, is another preferred storage method. If the sled was put away with a half tank of untreated fuel, there is a good chance the remaining fuel is no good. Moisture could have entered the fuel supply, as well as allowing varnish to form in the fuel injectors or carburetor jets. It is recommended to drain the stale fuel, replace with fresh fuel, and add an approved fuel system cleaner.
Another storage preparation technique recommended by most snowmobile manufacturers is the use of fogging oil. Fogging oil is used to prevent rust or corrosion development inside of the engine’s cylinders and fuel system; it does an excellent job of providing a lubrication barrier on the internal parts of the engine. Unfortunately, fogging oil also does an excellent job of fouling spark plugs. Because of this, it is recommended to replace the spark plugs before attempting to start an engine that has been fogged.
Recently, snowmobile manufacturers have introduced fuel injection and four-stroke technology to provide a cleaner, more trouble-free riding experience. Still, many two-stroke carbureted snowmobiles are in use today. These sleds require jetting and synchronization of carburetors for the best performance and safest engine operation. If carburetion is poorly or incorrectly jetted and tuned, lean or rich fuel conditions at idle, mid range or wide open throttle may exist. Lean conditions can spike spark plug tip temperatures causing pre-ignition and possible engine and/or spark plug damage.
Rich conditions waste fuel, performance will suffer, and spark plug fouling may result. For the best tuning strategy, consult your dealer for jetting recommendations based on your riding location, as temperature and elevation must be considered.
The original equipment spark plug for your engine was selected based on comprehensive pre-ignition tests using thermal couple test equipment. Attempting to correct a rich or lean condition with an alternative heat range spark plug may only mask the root problem and can lead to further problems with pre-ignition or fouling. Proper tuning for conditions including temperature, elevation, modifications, and riding style (including racing or leisurely trail riding) must be considered.
Article courtesy of NGK Spark Plugs. Part of NGK's "Did You Know" series.
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