Snowmobile Clutch Maintenance

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Your snowmobile’s primary and secondary clutch are key to rolling the track at different speeds. 

Keeping the clutch cleaned and well maintained will ensure that your sled performs in peak condition every time you ride. 

This page will provide you with some tips on cleaning your snowmobile’s clutch. 

Keeping the clutch faces clean and free and glaze, dirt, and grime will keep the belt in good condition and keep your clutch performing better. 

How to Clean a Snowmobile Clutch

Cleaning your snowmobile’s clutch is a fairly simple process, but does take some time. 

If your clutch is sticking or the engine feels like it has no power, your snowmobile clutch may need a cleaning. 

Sometimes a dirt clutch will make a clunking sound when coming to a stop. 

Overtime, dirt, dust, and grime can form on the clutch faces that will affect the movement of the clutch and the belt. Keeping it clean can solve many of these problems and improve performance. 

It’s always a good idea to refer to your snowmobile owner’s manual for the exact steps and specifications. 

To remove and clean the clutch, you’ll need:

  • Gloves and safety goggles. 
  • Socket wrenches. 
  • Clutch/brake cleaner. 
  • Rags, scrubbing pads, etc. 

To clean a snowmobile clutch, you’ll need to:

  • Loosen and remove the clutch belt. 
  • Inspec the belt for wear and damage, and replace if necessary. 
  • Remove the clutch from the engine by removing the center bolt and using a clutch puller to remove the clutch housing. 
  • Remove the clutch from the engine and take it to your workbench. 
  • You do not need to take the clutch apart completely for standard cleaning. 
  • Use brake cleaner, rags and scrubbers to clean up all the dirt and grime that has accumulated on the clutch faces and parts. 
  • Wipe the clutches dry when you’ve finished cleaning them.
  • Reinstall them on the engine and torque the clutch bolts to their recommended torque setting. 
  • Reinstall the belt and tighten it. 

Throughout the riding season, you can help maintain your clutch by removing grime and debris with compressed air and wiping it down after each ride. 

Can you clean a snowmobile clutch without removing it?

If your clutch is only in need of a quick clean, you can do some cleaning without removing them completely. 

You’ll still need to remove the belt from the clutches, but you can leave them attached to the sled from there. 

It’s still a good idea to wear gloves and goggles. 

To clean your snowmobile clutch without removing it:

  • Remove the clutch belt that connects the primary and secondary clutches. 
  • Use a rag, compressed air, and a scrubber to remove all the dirt, grime, and rust from the clutches. 
  • Spray on some clutch cleaner or brake cleaner. 
  • Use your scrubber (i.e. Scotch Brite) to clean and polish the clutch faces and components as around. 
  • Dry off the clutch and reinstall the belt. 

How often should you clean your snowmobile’s clutch?

If you keep your clutch clean and maintained, you can expect it to last up to 10,000 miles. 

At the very least, you should do a deep cleaning of your clutch once per year before you store your snowmobile for the off-season. 

You can also perform quick maintenance on the clutch without removing it throughout the riding seasons, depending on how often you ride and how your clutch is performing. 

How Does a Snowmobile Clutch Work?

The clutch is one of the key components in how a snowmobile works

The clutch is responsible for delivering the power from the engine to the snowmobile track.

Snowmobiles feature a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) clutch. 

These types of clutches can be found on motorcycles and scooters as well. 

Unlike a geared transmission, the CVT will adjust itself automatically to deliver the right tension at different engine speeds. 

The system consists of: 

  • A primary clutch, which is connected to the crankshaft. 
  • A secondary clutch, which spins the jackshaft and the track’s chaincase. 
  • A belt, which connects the primary and secondary clutches. 

Just like any other clutch, the snowmobile’s clutch features two halves connected by springs and weights. 

When the engine is idling, the two halves of the clutch are separated and the engine can spin without rotating the track. 

As you give the snowmobile throttle, the pressure spring is compressed and the clutch halves are brought closer together, which causes the belt to spin. 

As the belt spins, it powers the secondary clutch and begins to turn the track. 

At higher RPMs, the belt rides higher on the clutch face and increases its tension, which causes the belt to spin faster. 

The CVT is constantly and automatically adjusting itself based on engine speed, travel speed, and load. 

Keeping the clutches clean will ensure it is able to operate properly.