How to Break In a Snowmobile

Brand new snowmobiles should be broken in when you first operate them. This mainly involves not going at full throttle for a while, but a few other tips will help ensure your snowmobile functions at full capacity in the long run. 

I’m an avid snowmobiler with a lifelong passion for these amazing machines. I like to learn as much as I can about repair and maintenance to get the most out of my sleds. I have first-hand experience with breaking in a snowmobile. 

This post will tell you how to break in a snowmobile. I’ll explain why this is needed and the steps you need to take to do it properly. I’ll also provide you with some other tips and suggestions to help facilitate the process. 

Let’s jump in. 

Initial Thoughts

It might seem weird that your snowmobile can’t just be driven right out of the factory at top speeds without worry. I mean, it is brand new, right? Well, the break-in process is necessary to make sure everything runs properly in the long run, so it’s essential. 

There is a lot of different advice out there on how to best break in a snowmobile. This can be a little confusing, but there is an easy way to sort through it all. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines for breaking in your specific snowmobile model for best results. 

Every type of engine can have a slightly different break-in procedure. They are similar, but you’ll want to follow whatever the manufacturer recommends for the best results. 

And the engine is not the only part of your sled that requires a bit of break-in. I’ll explain the other steps in detail, so let’s dig in. 

How to Break In a Snowmobile 

Here are all the steps you should follow to break in a snowmobile. The general break-in period on most sleds is around 300 miles, which also breaks down to a tank of fuel or 6-10 hours of engine operation. 

1. Check Manufacturer’s Guidelines

The first step to breaking in any new snowmobile is to follow the manufacturer’s advice on how to do this. Each engine will be slightly different, requiring a somewhat different break-in procedure. 

This information should be easy to find in the owner’s manual that comes with your machine when you buy it. If you don’t have one, you might need to call the dealer or manufacturer to get a new one or ask for their tips and advice on the break-in process. 

You want to stick as close to the manufacturer’s guidelines as possible, although you might not end up doing things exactly as they recommend. 

  • Here are some tips on breaking in Ski-Doo snowmobiles. 
  • Here are some tips on breaking in Polaris snowmobiles. 
  • Here are some tips on breaking in Arctic Cat snowmobiles. 
  • Here are some tips on breaking in Yamaha snowmobiles. 

2. Do a Quick Visual Inspection

Before firing up your sled for the first time, do a quick visual inspection to check that all of the parts are lubricated and look ready to roll. If you notice anything major, you’ll want to address this before starting it.

Check fluid levels like oil (on a 4-stroke) and coolant (on a liquid-cooled machine) and make sure everything is filled up. 

3. Clean Pulleys and Belts

Various parts on your sled can be coated with acetone and other preservatives that prevent them from wearing out or getting damaged as the sled is being built at the factory. But these chemicals should be removed before riding the sled. 

You can use a general all-purpose shop cleaner and quickly wipe down the pulleys on the clutch and the drive belts to remove the preservatives. This isn’t necessary on all snowmobiles, but it doesn’t hurt just in case. 

4. Run at Idle

Most break-in procedures instruct you to start up the machine and let it idle for 10-15 minutes. Again, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines here, but you want to let the engine warm up a bit before you start to ride it in the snow. 

5. Initial Rides

Now it’s time to give your snowmobile a test run to break things in. The key to the initial ride is that you don’t want to push the machine very hard. This means you need to keep the throttle under 50% of its power. 

You need to fight the urge to push the engine and just go on a mellow ride for a few hours. You want to vary the throttle between 25-50% here. Then stop your machine and let it cool down or wait a day.

You can then take a second test ride for a bit longer. Again, vary your throttle use but make sure it doesn’t go to maximum capacity and keep your RPMs at least 1,000 under the red line. 

6. Check Your Track Tension 

A brand new track also needs to be broken in. It will stretch out a bit when it’s brand new, so you’ll want to check its tension as part of the break-in process. 

The amount of change a belt will see will vary, and it might not need much adjustment. But you should always check, as proper tension is essential for peak performance and to limit potential damage. 


Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about breaking in a snowmobile. 

Do you need to break in a new snowmobile?

For the best performance and engine life, breaking in a new snowmobile is always a good idea. While the machine will still run if you don’t break it in, you will notice issues down the line that could have easily been avoided.  

How long does it take to break in a snowmobile motor?

The general rule of thumb is that it takes about one tank of gas to break in a snowmobile motor. This can also be expressed as around 200-300 miles or 6-10 hours of life. 

How long does it take to break in a snowmobile belt?

Breaking in a belt does not take anywhere near as long as an engine, and you can expect it to take about 15-20 minutes of riding. You just want to take it easy on the engine while the belt breaks in. 

How to break in a rebuilt snowmobile engine?

Thoughts differ on how to best break in a rebuilt snowmobile engine, but you typically want to ride the machine under full throttle and vary the RPMs along the way. This should occur for a similar amount of time as a new engine – so 200-300 miles. 

How do you break in a 2 stroke snowmobile?

Breaking in a 2 stroke snowmobile isn’t as critical as a 4 stroke. Most people will lay off the throttle at around ½ to ¾ of its top for the first tank of gas. But others say to ride it like you want to ride it from the start. 

Final Thoughts

Breaking in a brand new snowmobile is important to ensure that the engine components, like the seating of the piston rings in the cylinders, work properly in the long run. You should always follow the manufacturer’s advice on how to break in your specific snowmobile. 

Some modern machines have computers that help you break in the snowmobile by limiting throttle use during the initial hours of operation. This is a great feature, but you never want to trust that your snowmobile will break in on its own. Always check the specs!  

About Chaz Wyland
I’m a snowmobile fanatic. I live for riding and am out on the trails or backcountry as often as possible during the winter months. I was born and raised in the Rocky Mountains and have snowmobiled in dozens of North American locations. When the snow is falling, you’ll find me on a sled.

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