Serious Sled Care
Take pride in your ride with a weekend’s worth of elbow grease
Story by Paul Johnson, Photography by Paul Johnson, Created Sep 23, 2008
A snowmobile is a substantial investment. A current model year 600 or 800 trail sled has an MSRP of $7,000-$11,000, so it only makes sense to protect it. Even if you don’t own a new or newer sled, keeping your sled clean and lubed pays dividends. You may be thinking, “Yeah, so what if it’s dirty, it will still run fine.” Yes, it will still run, but there is a difference between a clean, well-maintained sled and a poorly maintained one. The dirty sled with a greasy engine and grime-soaked parts will run hotter and less efficiently.
Beyond the practical, I also have to mention a less tangible but certainly pertinent factor when it comes to sled appearance and cleanliness. And that’s the pride factor. It’s fair to say most people take pride in their ride, and therefore, feel a sense of pride on a clean or relatively clean machine. I don’t know anyone who'd rather ride a greasy, grungy rat sled. At least for me, I feel better about riding a sled that’s clean, well maintained, and of course safe. In addition, a clean sled will take less time, money, and effort to prepare for sale. Hence, a clean sled should present well in a competitive marketplace, command a higher price, and may be the difference between making the sale or not.
The chemicals, techniques, and procedures in this article enhance cosmetic appearance and in some cases provide a performance benefit. While this is not a comprehensive ‘how-to’ article for placing a sled in or taking it out of storage, I recommend a good spring, fall, and in-season cleaning. Since most sleds are in storage at least half of the year, a good fall preparation will protect finishes, surfaces, and help prevent vital components from corroding. Once you establish a level of cleanliness and appearance for your sled, it will take less work and time to maintain that level.
Sleds operate in a clean environment compared to other vehicles, such as ATVs. Whether on the trail, lake, or traversing the highlands, sleds typically run across snow, but often sleds have to run on roads to gain access to a riding area and are exposed to salt, dirt, and grime. In addition, many owners tow their sleds on open bed trailers, which expose their sleds to more contaminants, requiring a higher level of maintenance than sleds towed in enclosed trailers. If you use an open bed trailer, you should use a use a full cover and/or a salt shield to help protect your sled's finishes, surfaces, and sensitive parts. The salt and road spray will definitely affect the paint, aluminum, plastic and other finishes on the sled.
The subject of our story is a 2008 Ski-Doo MXZ T’NT, a fine precision instrument for the trail. Over the course of the winter, it had been trailered a few times without a cover on an open trailer, so the runner boards, tunnel and slides had been exposed to road salt and became oxidized and corroded. The engine compartment had not been cleaned or degreased so a fair amount of carbon and gunk had found a home under the hood. In addition, the hood and windshield did not receive any more wax or TLC so I was compelled to take action.
|AmsOil Synthetic Water Resistant Grease Lithium Complex – This isn't a cosmetic product, but grease provides a protective envelop for bearings, suspension parts, and pivoting equipment. Squirting grease through a zerk fitting and into a component displaces hidden moisture. In turn, grease helps inhibit rusting of vital components. If you want to get the best out of your suspension, grease it consistently. Grease it in the spring, so your sled doesn’t have moisture sitting in these areas until the following fall. Cost: $9.95|
Eagle One Wax as U-Dry Spray Wax– Set up a good base coat of wax with the Deep Crystal System or some other wax or sealant. Once you’ve established that solid base coat, a spray-on Carnauba wax like this maintains that protection and reduces clean up time. Cost: $7.49
Novus Plastic Polish No.2– This quickly freshens up windshields with minor scratches. Apply with a clean damp cloth in a circular motion and wipe off. It renews the windshield and provides better visibility, which is always a good thing. Cost: $5.99
|Arctic Cat Cleaner – This proprietary Arctic Cat cleaner easily and safely applies to any painted, metal or vinyl surface. It's particularly useful for removing oil and exhaust residue from colored belly pans, and these stains can be very stubborn to remove. Cost: $11.99|
Well, that sounds like a good weekend project. While there is definite elbow grease involved, the results of your labor will be worth it. And, when you clean your sled this well, you’ll also have the opportunity to look for potential wear spots that may need fixing before you hit the trails.