How to Start a Snowmobile

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If you’re going to ride a snowmobile, you’re going to need to know how to start it!

This page will provide you with the steps to start a snowmobile, plus go over some common start-up scenarios including cold starts, starting a flooded engine, and starting your snowmobile after it has been sitting for a while. 

How to Start a Snowmobile

Once you familiarize yourself with the start-up process, getting your snowmobile started and running right each time becomes second nature. 

Starting a snowmobile is similar to starting a dirt bike or ATV. There’s a few steps you’ll always need to take. 

To start your snowmobile:

  1. Confirm that enough fuel is in the gas tank and the fuel valve is on. 
  2. Make sure the kill switch is in the RUN position. 
  3. Put the key into the ignition and turn it to the on position. 
  4. Pull the choke out to prime the engine, when starting a cold, carbureted engine. 
  5. Press the starter button or pull the cord to start the engine. 
  6. Release the choke after the engine is warmed up. 

When in doubt, refer to your snowmobile owner manual for the specific start-up procedure and location of certain controls. 

Note that before you start up your sled and ride, you should conduct your snowmobile pre-ride inspection. 

Main Types of Snowmobile Starters

Regardless of the size of snowmobile you have, most will be equipped with similar starters. 

On most sleds, you’ll find:

  • A pull start. 
  • An electric start. 
  • Both a pull start and electric starter. 

On pull-start snowmobiles, you may need to pull the cord a few times. A snowmobile that has been properly serviced and maintained should start up in no more than 4 pulls. 

Cold Starts

When the engine is cold and hasn’t been operated for a while, this is known as a “cold start.”

For carbureted snowmobile engines and snowmobiles with a choke lever, you’ll need to operate the choke when starting a cold engine. 

The choke allows more fuel into the combustion chamber to help start it up. 

So, to start a cold snowmobile engine, you’ll need to: 

  • Pull out the choke lever to turn it on. 
  • Start up the engine. 
  • Allow the engine to warm up to operating temperature. 
  • Close the choke. 

Some snowmobiles may feature a primer, which you’ll need to press 1-3 times to prime the cold engine. 

How to Start a Snowmobile that has Been Sitting

If you have a snowmobile that has been sitting for a long time, it may be hard to start. 

Your best bet will be to perform a full tune up, which would include:

  • Charging the battery. 
  • Changing the oil.
  • Replacing the fuel and inspecting the fuel lines. 
  • Cleaning the carbs, if necessary. 
  • Replacing or cleaning the air filter. 

How to Start a Flooded Snowmobile

If your snowmobile engine is flooded, you’re going to have a difficult time getting it started if you keep following the standard start-up procedure. 

A flooded engine happens when too much fuel has been brought into the combustion chamber and the spark plugs without igniting. 

First, you can try to start the engine while holding the throttle in a wide open position. Be sure that the parking brake is engaged. 

If that doesn’t work, here are the steps you can take to clear a flooded engine:

  • Turn off the engine and activate the kill switch. 
  • Remove the spark plugs and allow them to dry. 
  • Hold the throttle in the open position. 
  • Turn the engine over a few times until you’ve cleared the cylinders. 
  • Replace the spark plugs.
  • Engage the emergency brake. 
  • Keep the throttle open. 
  • Try to start the engine again. 

Back off the throttle when it starts up, and allow it to warm up to operating temperature.