How to prepare your trail snowmobile for the winter season?

The leaves are changing, and the temps are dropping. It’s time to start getting your snowmobile ready for winter. The following list will help you get your Ski-Doo trail snowmobile ready for the season.


Proper pre-season sled preparation is key to ensuring snowmobile reliability, performance, and safety. The pre-season prep process is outlined in your Ski-Doo Operator’s Manual. Remember, if you have questions or are uncomfortable performing any of the following items, your Ski-Doo dealer is standing by to help.

Start at the handlebars

Check the throttle and brake lever to make sure both operate correctly. Your throttle lever should move smoothly and quickly return to its original position when released. Squeeze the brake lever to ensure it doesn’t feel spongy or go all the way to the handlebar. Doublecheck that your engine stop switch is also operating correctly. Any concerns in these areas should be serviced by your Ski-Doo dealer.

Make sure there is full movement in the handlebars when turned left and right. There should also be no play in the throttle block, brake lever assembly or handlebar grips.

Charge the battery (if equipped)

If equipped, fully charge the battery, and check that it continues to hold a charge. If your battery quickly loses its charge, it’s time to replace.

Drive Belt Integrity and Tension

Remove the drive belt and check the full diameter, inside and out, for damage. Look for signs of separation, edge cord, glazing or excessive wear (narrowing). These are good indications it’s time to replace.

Upon reinstalling the drive belt, ensure it’s set to the proper tension (deflection) and sits at the proper height in the secondary clutch. This process is outlined in your Operator’s Manual.

Injection Oil (2-stroke)

Some Ski-Doo trail sleds use a Rotax 2-stroke engine and require injection oil. Check injection oil reservoir level and fill if needed. It’s always recommended to use XPS 2-stroke oil for maximum performance and longevity of your Rotax engine.

Oil Change (4-stroke)

Other Ski-Doo trail models use a Rotax 4-stroke engine. These engines require an annual oil change. If you did not perform this service before storing your sled, it should be done in the fall before that first ride. The process is outlined in your Operator’s Manual. For the DIY type, an XPS Oil Change Kit has everything you need in one convenient box. Your Ski-Doo dealer can also help with this service if needed.

Refresh Chaincase Oil

If your sled’s chaincase oil was not changed before storing in the spring, it’s time to get it done now. BRP’s XPS chaincase oil is sold in the exact amount you need to refill the chaincase. This is also the perfect time to doublecheck your chain for proper tension. Each process is outlined in your Operator’s Manual.

Inspect rear suspension components

There are several areas to look over in the rear suspension when you’re getting your snowmobile ready for winter.

• Rear idler wheels: Look for rips, tears or chunking in the rubber and spin each wheel by hand to ensure the wheels spin freely and easily.
• Slider shoes: Inspect the slider shoes (sometimes called hyfax) on each slide rail for wear. If it’s worn past the wear indicator line at any point, it’s time to replace.
• Ice scratchers: Check each scratcher for damage and each tip for wear. Remove each scratcher from the holder and let it extend to ensure it reaches the ground with tension.
• Chassis/rear skid lubrication: Hit all the lubrication zerks on the chassis with a low-temp grease such as XPS Synthetic Suspension Grease. This will keep everything moving freely all season long.

Track Tension and Condition

Look for rips, tears, holes, or missing lugs in your track. You’ll also want to check track tension (deflection) and alignment. This process is outlined in your Operator’s Manual.

Skis and Carbides

Check the bottom of the skis for damage and excessive wear. The bottom surface should be smooth. Inspect the runner and carbide, too. If they’re bent, missing pieces of carbide insert or overly worn, it’s time for replacement.

Ski alignment should be slightly wider at the front, or toe, of the ski than at the back. Your Operator’s Manual will outline the procedure for setting the proper 1/8-1/4” toe-out ski stance.

Final Steps

Check these items before your first ride, and periodically throughout the season.

• Exhaust outlet: Make sure it’s free of any obstruction.
• Headlight and taillight: Both should come on at sled startup. Doublecheck both low and high beam are working up front and both brake and taillight are good to go in the back.
• Fluid leaks: Keep an eye out for signs of oil, brake fluid or coolant leaks. check shocks as well and inspect for any leaking around the seals. If you see any of these signs, consult your local Ski-Doo dealer for assistance.

Following this snowmobile pre-season checklist will help you in getting your snowmobile ready for winter every season. If you run into any questions along the way, your local Ski-Doo dealer is just a phone call away for help.

Happy riding!

Frequently asked questions

View all questions
  • How to do in-season maintenance for your trail sled?

    How to do in-season maintenance for your trail sled?

    Learn More
  • Accessories & Apparel
    Top 5 must-have accessories for trail snowmobiling

    Top 5 must-have accessories for trail snowmobiling

    Learn More
  • Ski-Doo Trail Sled Setup Tips

    Ski-Doo Trail Sled Setup Tips

    Learn More

Can't find what you're looking for?

If you still can't find what you're looking for, get in touch with your local dealer or reach out to us here!