Skip to Content

This site is an affiliate for companies including Amazon Associates and earns a commission on qualifying purchases.

Snowmobile Won’t Start When Cold: 12 Causes and Fixes

Snowmobile Won’t Start When Cold: 12 Causes and Fixes

It’s that time of year again when the temperature drops and the snow starts to fly. For many people, this means hitting the slopes on their snowmobiles. But what do you do if your snowmobile won’t start when it’s cold outside?

If your snowmobile won’t start when it’s cold, it could be due to a frozen fuel line, clogged air filter, dirty fuel, or flooded carburetor. Quick fixes include thawing out the fuel line, cleaning the air filter, draining the contaminated fuel, and clearing the carburetor.

In this post, I’ll describe 12 possible causes of the problem and solutions for fixing each one. By the end of this post, you should’ve a good understanding of what’s causing your snowmobile to malfunction and how to get it running again.

1. The Fuel Line Is Frozen

One of the most common reasons a snowmobile won’t start when it’s cold outside is because there’s ice in the fuel line. This can happen if you leave your snowmobile parked in a garage or shed for days without properly winterizing it.

When the fuel line freezes, it prevents fuel from reaching the engine. As a result, the snowmobile won’t start. That’s a serious problem that needs to be fixed as soon as possible, as it can cause lasting damage to the engine.

How To Fix

If you suspect your fuel line is frozen, follow these steps:

  1. Check the line for ice.
  2. If you see any ice, thaw it out before you can continue. The best way to do this is to use a hair dryer on low heat or place the snowmobile in a warm garage or shed.

Once the ice is thawed, you should be able to start your snowmobile without any problems. However, if you’re still having trouble, it’s best to consult a mechanic or dealer to ensure there isn’t any other damage.

Caution: Be careful not to overheat the fuel line while thawing it out. Doing so could damage the line and cause a leak. Also, keep all flammable materials away from the area while you’re working.

2. The Air Filter Is Clogged

Another common reason a snowmobile won’t start when it’s cold outside is that the air filter is clogged. A clogged air filter can prevent the engine from getting enough air, which will make it stall.

If you’ve been riding your snowmobile in deep powder, there’s a good chance that the air filter is clogged. Besides your snowmobile not starting, a clogged air filter manifests in the following ways:

  • Reduced engine power.
  • Reduced fuel economy.
  • Rough idling.

How To Fix

If you suspect your snowmobile’s air filter is clogged, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the air filter. On most snowmobiles, it’s located behind the steering column
  2. Remove the air filter cover and take out the filter.
  3. Inspect the filter for any dirt or debris.
  4. If it’s clogged, clean it with a brush or blow it out with compressed air. If it’s damaged, replace it with a new one.

Once you’ve cleaned or replaced the air filter, reinstall it and turn on the snowmobile. It should start without any problems.

3. The Fuel Is Contaminated With Water

Another possible reason your snowmobile won’t start when it’s cold outside is that the fuel is contaminated with water. That can happen if you store your snowmobile in an unheated garage or shed and condensation forms in the fuel tank.

Water in the fuel system can cause all sorts of problems, including:

  • Stalling.
  • Engine misfires.
  • Reduced engine power.

How To Fix

If you think your snowmobile’s fuel is contaminated with water, follow these steps:

  1. Drain the fuel tank.
  2. Remove the fuel line from the tank and drain the fuel into a container.
  3. Inspect the fuel for any water contamination. If you see any water, discard it and add fresh fuel to the tank.
  4. Replace the fuel filter.
  5. Turn on the snowmobile and see if it starts. If it does, you’re good to go. However, if it doesn’t, there may be other problems that need to be addressed.

4. The Carburetor Is Flooded

Another possible reason your snowmobile won’t start when it’s cold outside is that the carburetor is flooded. That can happen if the needle valve isn’t seated properly, letting too much gas into the carburetor. It can also occur if you try to start the snowmobile too many times without success.

A flooded carburetor manifests in the following ways:

  • Fuel leaking from the carburetor.
  • The engine won’t start.
  • The engine starts but stalls shortly after.

How To Fix

If you think your carburetor is flooded, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the spark plug and inspect it. If it’s wet, that’s a good indication that the carburetor is flooded.
  2. Remove the carburetor bowl and drain any fuel that’s in it.
  3. Replace the spark plug and try to start the snowmobile again.

5. The Spark Plugs Are Fouled

Spark plugs are an essential component of any snowmobile and play a vital role in the starting process. When spark plugs become fouled, it can prevent the engine from starting.

Fouled spark plugs can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Using the wrong type of oil.
  • Running the engine too lean.
  • Leaving the snowmobile in storage for too long without starting it.

How To Fix

To ensure that your snowmobile starts properly in cold weather, clean and replace its spark plugs regularly. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the spark plugs from the engine.
  2. Inspect the spark plugs for any dirt, debris, or corrosion.
  3. If they’re fouled, clean them with a brush or blow them out with compressed air.
  4. If the spark plugs are damaged, replace them with new ones.
  5. Once you’ve cleaned or replaced the spark plugs, reinstall them and turn on the snowmobile. It should start without any problems.

6. The Exhaust System Is Blocked

If the exhaust system on your snowmobile is blocked, it can prevent the engine from starting. That’s because a blocked exhaust system can cause the engine to backfire, which can damage the engine.

A blocked exhaust system can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Exhaust pipes that are clogged with snow.
  • Exhaust systems that are rusting or corroding.
  • Mufflers that are filled with water.

How To Fix

If you think your snowmobile’s exhaust system is blocked, follow these steps:

  1. Check the exhaust pipe for any blockages. If you find any, use a wire brush or other tool to clear them away.
  2. Inspect the muffler for any signs of damage. If it’s damaged, replace it with a new one.
  3. Check the rest of the exhaust system for any leaks or holes. If you find any, use a sealant or other product to repair them.

Once you’ve fixed any problems with the exhaust system, start the engine and let it run for a few minutes to ensure everything is working properly.

7. The Fuel Pump Is Not Working

If the fuel pump on your snowmobile isn’t working, it can prevent the engine from starting. That’s because the fuel pump is responsible for delivering fuel to the engine; if it’s not working, the engine won’t have anything to run on.

Several things can cause a fuel pump to stop working, including:

  • A clogged fuel filter.
  • A bad fuel pump relay.
  • Running the tank on low fuel.
  • Using dirty or contaminated fuel.
  • Storing the snowmobile for too long without starting it up.

How To Fix

If you think your fuel pump is not working, follow these steps:

  1. Check the fuel filter and replace it if it’s dirty.
  2. Check the fuel pump relay and replace it if it’s bad.
  3. Fill up the gas tank and try to start the snowmobile again. If the fuel pump isn’t working, you may need to replace it with a new one.

8. The Engine Is Seized

If the engine on your snowmobile is seized, it won’t turn on, no matter what you do. That’s because a seized engine is one that’s been damaged so badly that you can no longer repair it.

Several things can cause an engine to seize, including:

  • Overheating. Using inadequate coolant or running the engine too hard can cause the engine to overheat and seize.
  • Lack of oil. If the engine doesn’t have enough oil, it can seize up. That’s because oil lubricates the engine and prevents it from overheating.
  • Contaminated fuel. If the fuel is contaminated with water or other contaminants, it can cause the engine to seize.

How To Fix

Unfortunately, if the engine on your snowmobile is seized, there’s not much you can do. The only way to fix a seized engine is to replace it with a new one.

When doing that, ensure you follow these guidelines:

  • Ensure the new engine is compatible with your snowmobile.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing the new engine.
  • If you’re unsure how to install the new engine, take it to a professional mechanic.

9. Your Snowmobile’s Battery Is Dead

If your snowmobile’s battery is dead, it can prevent the engine from starting. The battery powers the machine, and if it’s dead, there won’t be any energy for the engine to use.

Several things can cause a battery to die, including:

  • Leaving the lights on overnight.
  • Running too many electrical accessories at once.
  • Storing the snowmobile for too long without starting it up.

How To Fix

If you think your snowmobile’s battery is dead, follow these steps:

  1. Check the terminals for any corrosion. If there’s any, clean it off with a wire brush or other tool.
  2. Check the battery cables for any damage. If they are damaged, replace them with new ones.
  3. Try charging the battery with a jumper cable or other type of charger. If the battery still doesn’t hold a charge, you may need to replace it with a new one.

10. The Ignition Coil Isn’t Working

If the ignition coil on your snowmobile isn’t working, it can prevent the engine from starting. The coil is responsible for providing the spark that ignites the fuel and starts the engine. When it fails, there won’t be any spark, and the engine won’t start.

Several things can cause an ignition coil to stop working, including:

  • A bad spark plug. The spark plug is responsible for creating the spark that ignites the fuel. If the spark plug is damaged, it can prevent the spark from being created. 
  • A loose connection. The ignition coil must be securely connected to the snowmobile’s engine to work properly. If the connection is loose, it can cause the ignition coil to malfunction. 
  • Excessive vibration. Excessive vibration can also cause an ignition coil to stop working. Snowmobiles tend to vibrate a lot when running, which can damage delicate components like the ignition coil.

How To Fix

If your ignition coil is faulty, it’s time to replace it. You can do that by following these steps:

  1. Remove the old ignition coil and take it to a local auto parts store to find a replacement. 
  2. Install the new ignition coil according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: If you’re unsure how to install the new ignition coil, take it to a professional mechanic.

11. You’re Using Stale Fuel

If you’re using stale fuel, it can prevent the engine on your snowmobile from starting. Fuel goes bad over time, and if you use it after it’s gone bad, it can damage the engine.

The tell-tale signs of bad fuel are:

  • The fuel smells bad.
  • The fuel has a dark color.
  • The fuel has sediment in it.

How To Fix

If you think you’re using stale fuel, follow these steps:

  1. Drain the fuel tank and dispose of the fuel properly. I recommend taking it to a local gas station or auto parts store.
  2. Fill the fuel tank with fresh, high-quality fuel. I recommend using an ethanol-free fuel to avoid any problems.
  3. If you’re still having trouble starting the engine, take the snowmobile to a professional mechanic for further diagnosis. They may need to clean or replace the fuel injectors.

Here’s a video demo on how to drain your snowmobile’s fuel tank:

Draining a snowmobile fuel tank: Harbor Freight Liquid Transfer Pump (Director's Cut)

Pro Tip: To keep your fuel fresh for longer, add a fuel stabilizer to it. That will help prevent the fuel from going bad in the first place. For, example, you could use this STA-BIL Storage Fuel Stabilizer from Amazon.com. It’s effective for all gasoline engines, including snowmobiles. Besides, its remarkable composition ensures your fuel will stay fresh for up to 24 months, making it a great value for money.

12. Your Snowmobile Is Low On Oil

If your snowmobile is low on oil, it can cause the engine to seize up and prevent it from starting. The oil lubricates the engine and keeps it running smoothly. If there isn’t enough oil, the engine will overheat and eventually seize.

Several things can cause a snowmobile to lose oil, including:

  • A leak. A leak is one of the most common causes of low oil levels. If your snowmobile is leaking oil, it’s important to find the source of the leak and fix it as soon as possible.
  • Burning oil. Another common cause of low oil levels is burning oil. Oil can be burned off during the combustion process, and if there’s too much oil in the engine, it can cause the lubricant to burn up.

How To Fix

If you think your snowmobile is low on oil, follow these steps:

  1. Check the oil level using the dipstick. If it’s below the minimum line, you’ll need to add oil.
  2. Add oil to the engine until it reaches the full line on the dipstick. I recommend using a high-quality lubricant to avoid any problems.

Summary

There are several reasons why a snowmobile won’t start when it’s cold, and most of them are relatively easy to fix. However, if you’re still having trouble starting the engine, I recommend taking the snowmobile to a professional mechanic for further diagnosis.

Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when working on a snowmobile. If you’re unsure how to fix something, don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Recommended Reading