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Snowmobile Reliability Rant

  • mojo
    Participant
    Posts: 315
    #2103410

    So the fuel knows what size engine it is going into? It only stays fresh when used in large engines?

    Small fuel lines, small fuel pumps, small injectors or carburetors, mean smaller amounts of fuel, which means less time for fuel to begin to evaporate.
    The primary way ethanol causes problems is that on dry rubber surfaces it actually begins to dry rot the rubber. So when the gas evaporates, the dry rubber with ethanol on it starts to break down. Seals, O-rings, diaphragms (fuel pump diaphragms are often paper thin rubber), and the interior of fuel lines. These tiny particles of deteriorated rubber are then floating around throughout the fuel system the next time the engine is run, which can cause blockages. And with enough time, the smallest parts can deteriorate to the point they no longer seal properly, or the blockage causes a lean condition, which is typically when we notice engine damage.
    Additionally, the longer fuel sits, the more it takes on water, primarily through condensation, so it happens more frequently in fluctuating cold temperatures. When an internal combustion engine burns fuel with water in it, the fuel mixture is leaned out by the water (the water is displacing some fuel), causing a lean burn condition.
    These issues were reduced with the introduction of ethanol resistant parts beginning with the automotive industry (engineers were working on this issue prior to ethanol-blended fuel being approved), and more recently in small engines, once ethanol resistant parts were adopted. This is why you now see labels that say things like “up to 15% ethanol fuel” on small engines in recent years. More recent outboards tend to use an injection system instead of a carburetor. The injection system is far more sealed from outside air than a carbureted system. Combined with the eventual use of ethanol-resistant parts in that industry, 4 stroke outboards have developed a reputation for reliability.
    However, if you run ethanol-blended fuel in a small engine that is not made with ethanol resistant parts, or engines that use carburetors, those parts begin to deteriorate as soon as the ethanol is exposed to air. Snowmobiles operate in some of the worst conditions for fuel – often sit for long periods, fluctuating cold air, and they were some of the last engines to adopt ethanol resistant fuel systems. That is why the recommendation is to run only non-ethanol fuel in engines that might sit for more than 5 days. Fuel evaporation, especially in a carbureted system, can begin in 5 days. If you run the engine in less than 5 days, the fuel system is refilled with fuel, thereby keeping air out and preventing the ethanol from deteriorating rubber parts. This is why frequently run engines do better when ethanol is present.

    Huntindave, I don’t know you, and I try to not make posts that offend folks here at IDO. I typically post only to offer help or contribute to a post (hence my low post count). Your posts in this thread directed at me appear to be nothing more than criticism, and certainly do not offer any assistance to the OP. I would welcome you to offer your own insight if you disagree with my recommendation.

    404 ERROR
    Participant
    MN
    Posts: 3918
    #2103412

    The problem is Arctic Cat and Polaris. Buy a Ski-Doo or Yamaha and try again.

    DeRangedFishinguy
    Participant
    Up Nort’
    Posts: 301
    #2103429

    I’ve got an 05 AC Panther 570 and that thing has been a beast for me! Never an issue with it in the 8-9 years I’ve owned it. I don’t put much for miles on it as it’s basically my boat for winter. I grease the bearings every spring and run non-oxy or premium in the tank.

    Tom Bennett
    Participant
    Posts: 26
    #2103432

    I have a 1993 Ski Doo Tundra. It has been used hard since brand new for breaking trail, dragging out deer, hauling a sleigh full of gear and another person, and ice fishing in the Grand Marais area. I like it so much I bought an 87 Tundra from my elderly neighbor for $700 when he and his wife were no longer ice fishing. He later told me it as it was the best starting snowmobile he ever had. It still is easy to start even in -20f.

    Top off the gas with non-oxy gas mixed with a little sea foam each fall, start and run, cover them up in April. All major parts are original on both. I have proactively replaced the fuel lines, plugs, belts, and that is it.

    Granted they are not fast or all that fun to ride compared to bigger machines, but more importantly for me they are light so once stuck in deep snow or slush they are easy to free. They have always been hard to find for sale on the used market for a good reason.

    I would be interested to know if there is a utility sled made today that would be equivalent in terms of function and reliability in case I ever want a new one.

    mojo
    Participant
    Posts: 315
    #2103440

    I would be interested to know if there is a utility sled made today that would be equivalent in terms of function and reliability in case I ever want a new one.

    The big 4 snowmobile manufacturers all make utility models. They are designed more for reliability and for not getting stuck. Not so much for fun riding, though the suspension has come a long way so even utility sleds are comfortable to ride.

    I agree with some others that Yamaha and Ski-Doo seem to have the best reputation for reliability, but I try to remain open-minded to machines from all manufacturers.

    A fantastic sled for most casual riders (not ideal for off trail mountains or ditch jumping) is a 2011 or newer Yamaha Venture with the power steering (EPS). They are extremely comfortable for one or two riders, great traction with the longer track, electric start and reverse standard, and a normally aspirated 4 stroke engine that makes good power (the 2016 and newer models have an even better power plant) and are known to be very reliable. Power steering is amazing on a snowmobile.

    Be on the lookout for one of these that has been well cared for, and it should do almost everything and last a long time if properly maintained.

    stout93
    Participant
    Becker MN
    Posts: 490
    #2103451

    I’ve heard starting them in the summer is not real good for them.

    I bought a new 2016 Polaris Indy 600 back in 2017. I have trails by my house so can just pull out of the pole barn and be on the trails. I only take it out when there’s fresh powder, which means only about 150 miles (if that) per year. I’m no hardcore/die hard rider. Just wanted to have my first snowmobile when I moved out to the country to tool around in. Works for me.

    After the riding season, I’ll change plugs, run sea foam through (I always run sea foam in the tank anyways), top off the gas (use non oxy all the time), spray some fogging oil down the cylinders, take the belt off and store it inside, grease the zerks and then prop up the back end to get the track off the ground. That’s it.

    I don’t do anything to it in the summer. I do drain the gas before riding season and fill with fresh non oxy. Haven’t had issues yet, but guessing they’re coming…

    rjthehunter
    Participant
    Brainerd
    Posts: 1103
    #2103506

    Snowmobiles are ridden hard. It’s not a matter of if it breaks, it’s when it breaks. Maintenance needs to be kept up or they’ll have a lot more problems. Premium ethanol free gas always and you’ll have less problems. In the spring, start the engine, let it run for a bit, then turn the fuel shut off valve and let it shut itself off. Put some sort of fuel stabilizer in it and turn the valve back on in the winter when you’re ready to ride again.

    Too many people run them hard, then never take care of them. Clean them up, pull your clutch and carbs and clean it and inspect it. You can’t just park them in their yard and leave it till ya want to go ride in December and can’t get them started… Not running them is bad too. Go for an occasional trail ride and put some miles on them! They’re built to be ridden!

    mahtofire14
    Participant
    Mahtomedi, MN
    Posts: 7174
    #2103511

    This is why I still have my 88 Indy 400. If something goes wrong, which it did last year, it’s easy and cheap to fix. Took me a year to get it trustworthy again but when that old girl is running well it sounds better than many sleds ten or twenty years newer.

    Was looking at some new ones a few months back and the motor looks like it’s all computer. I wouldn’t know what the heck to do with that if I ever had to fix something.

    iowaboy1
    Participant
    Posts: 3200
    #2103512

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>iowaboy1 wrote:</div>
    Back in 02 I custom ordered a brand new Polaris 800 X Edge for the 03 model year, it had the big bore twin in it, man, what a stump puller that thing was!!
    It didnt have electric start, it was heavy enough without it and even though I was fairly stout that thing was a bear pulling it through when it was very cold out but it always started very easily until I got about 1500 miles on it.

    As that year went by it got harder and harder to start and it pinged when you had premium in it with the switch set to that fuel setting, wth??
    In two years time both crank seals on that Fuji engine took a crap and I had been using the best fuel and oil money could buy.
    When I split the case both seals were harder than concrete, found out that was very common issue on them, that peed me off as my old 73 Suzuki Xr440 NEVER had a seal issue in twenty years!!
    What really griped me was I paid 250 for the old Zuki and I paid shy of 8 grand for the Polaris!!

    I would love to go snowmobiling again before I croak but I cannot justify the cost even on a used sled for no more snow than we get around here.
    The cost of fun per mile is just too high for me.

    Polaris had domestic twin engines in 03. Fuji was only offered as a triple in the XCR 800 for the last time that year. I had an 02 XC 800 and my wife had an 03 X 700. It took me a few years to tune my 800 clutches to beat my wife’s sled. The 700 was set up well from the factory. I don’t mess with tuning anymore. My 18 Rush 800 does everything I want. My wife is riding a 15 600 Indy fuelie and it’s plenty snappy in the trails
    Put on a quick 40 miles last night. Probably 3 times that today if we ever get going!

    Thank you for correcting me Suzuki !!! you are right, I was wrong, the liberty was the engine in my sled, I was going from memory from almost twenty years ago when I cut the deal on that sled.
    I so wanted the 3 cylinder engine but the extra 57 pounds wasnt worth digging out of an Iowa road ditch!!
    Regardless, the seal failures were not called for at three years old and only 1500 miles.
    toast

    mnfisherman18
    Participant
    Posts: 234
    #2103541

    Was looking at some new ones a few months back and the motor looks like it’s all computer. I wouldn’t know what the heck to do with that if I ever had to fix something.

    Good point, it can be difficult now just to get the plastic off before even attempting to diagnose a potentially complex issue.

    I appreciate all the responses, lots of good info here.

    weedis
    Participant
    Sauk Rapids, MN
    Posts: 534
    #2103546

    The problem is Arctic Cat and Polaris. Buy a Ski-Doo or Yamaha and try again.

    I can’t say I’m partial to any brand even through I’ve never owned anything other then a Polaris lol. When I was looking to get back into it I was looking at mainly Polaris and ski Doo. I will say there was just as many rebuilt ski doos out there for sale as anything else. I think it’s a matter of how they are road, doesn’t matter the brand. I would have no issue buying a Doo though as they do make a great machine.

    TheFamousGrouse
    Participant
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts: 9529
    #2103619

    If there is any recreational machine that requires, on average, more repair and maintenance per 100 hours of use than a snowmobile does, I’d like to know what it is. An airplane is the only thing that would come close. And arguably an airplane is cheaper in the long run.

    I do small engine work for friends/neighbors, etc. Outboards, lawn/garden, chainsaws, string trimmers generators, etc. I refuse every snowmobile that comes my way because if I start working on them, I’ll never be able to stop because they’ll never stop coming back.

    I tried to convince myself to get a machine about 2 years ago. I’m glad I came to my senses. Don’t know what the hell got into me.

    Jeremy
    Participant
    Richland County, WI
    Posts: 575
    #2103638

    If there is any recreational machine that requires, on average, more repair and maintenance per 100 hours of use than a snowmobile does, I’d like to know what it is. An airplane is the only thing that would come close. And arguably an airplane is cheaper in the long run.

    I do small engine work for friends/neighbors, etc. Outboards, lawn/garden, chainsaws, string trimmers generators, etc. I refuse every snowmobile that comes my way because if I start working on them, I’ll never be able to stop because they’ll never stop coming back.

    I tried to convince myself to get a machine about 2 years ago. I’m glad I came to my senses. Don’t know what the hell got into me.

    I can think of one, hovercraft
    I have spent enough time fixing snowmobiles over the years. I bought a 97 Artic Cat Panther with the 440 F/C Suzuki motor from my uncle a couple years ago knowing it wouldn’t start. I ended up fixing some electrical connector issues and replacing crankshaft seals, one piston and cylinder before it ran correctly. The next year it stranded me a half mile from home because of no fuel, the fuel line in the tank cracked and lost the weighted fuel screen so the line just floated on top of the gas. I only drove it about a mile this year as the snow didn’t get deep enough for riding it to be any fun

    Coletrain27
    Participant
    Posts: 2877
    #2103642

    If there is any recreational machine that requires, on average, more repair and maintenance per 100 hours of use than a snowmobile does, I’d like to know what it is. An airplane is the only thing that would come close. And arguably an airplane is cheaper in the long run.

    dirt bikes are another pita to maintain

    404 ERROR
    Participant
    MN
    Posts: 3918
    #2103643

    dirt bikes are another pita to maintain

    I would take working on a dirt bike all day lol.

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    mojogunter
    Participant
    Posts: 2713
    #2106582

    I know most of the polaris snow check models are sold out. I couldn’t get excaltly what I wanted. FYI the VR1 850 boost for $22k was still available last week if you’re in the market. shock

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