How to Remove a Snowmobile Clutch Without a Puller

Don’t have a puller? That’s fine. It’s still possible to remove the primary clutch on your snowmobile with a strong bolt and the power of hydraulics.

I’m Chaz, and I love riding and wrenching on my snowmobiles. I’ve spent countless hours cranking away at repairs and upgrades to my sleds over the years and learned a few tricks along the way. I’m not an expert mechanic, but I’m pretty capable. 

In this article, I’ll show you how to remove a clutch without a puller. Some people might scoff at this idea, but it’s effective and can allow you to get the job done with limited tools. 

Get on your grease clothes, and let’s go. 

What You’ll Need

You don’t need a lot to remove the clutch without a puller, just a few common tools you probably already have lying around the shop. 

Before you start, make sure you have the following:

  • Shop blanket, rug, or several towels
  • Grade 8 bolt that matches the threads of the clutch bolt
  • Teflon tape
  • Liquid (I use water, but some people use oil or grease)
  • Impact wrench or socket and hand wrench
  • A tie strap (if you use a hand wrench)

A few notes on the items above: The shop blanket or rug isn’t necessary, but since you’ll be flipping the snowmobile on its side, I’d recommend laying these down first to avoid damage. 

You need to make sure that the Grade 8 bolt you use matches the clutch bolt’s thread pitch for this method to work. Take the clutch bolt into a hardware shop to match it up precisely if you’re not sure. You can also just use the clutch bolt. 

If you use a hand wrench and socket instead of an impact wrench, you’ll need to hold the clutch in place as you crank down on the bolt with a tie strap. 

How to Remove a Snowmobile Clutch Without a Puller

Once you have all of the tools and the correct bolt, follow these instructions to remove the clutch:

1. Flip the snowmobile on its side

Lay down the blankets or a rug and flip the snowmobile onto the side opposite of where you need to access the clutch. This will protect your sled and the floor from any dings or damage. 

2. Remove engine housing to expose the clutch

Remove any plastic or other coverings from the engine compartment or body to expose the clutch you want to remove. You don’t need to remove the seat unless it gets in the way. You want the entire clutch to be able to pop off easily.

3. Remove clutch bolt

Use an impact wrench or a wrench and socket to remove the clutch bolt from the clutch itself. 

4. Wrap the Grade 8 bolt or clutch bolt with Teflon tape

This step is crucial because it helps create the hydraulic pressure that eventually releases the clutch. I’ve seen people not use tape, and this method can still work, but I think it’s much more effective and easy when you use it. 

Make sure to wrap the tape in the threads’ direction so that it won’t pull/rip off when tightened. Start with a single wrap at the top of the threads and get a little thicker as you work towards the bottom. 

5. Fill clutch bolt hole with water

Simply pour water into the hole where the clutch bolt came out of. You can also use oil or grease, but water is easier to clean up and just as effective. I would use room temperature or slightly warmed-up water.

Fill the hole up reasonably high up the shaft, but you don’t need to go all the way to overflow. 

6. Insert the bolt and tighten

Now place the bolt back into the water-filled hole. Just barely begin to get it threaded with your hands so that it stays in place. Use an impact wrench or hand wrench with the proper size socket to tighten the bolt. 

As you tighten, the hydraulic pressure underneath the bolt will build and separate the clutch from the crank. As this pressure builds, the clutch should pop right off. 

You will feel the pressure build, and the bold will get more difficult to turn. Don’t be alarmed by this. There will be enough water underneath the bolt that you won’t overtighten and cause any damage to the clutch or other components of the engine. 

You will also hear and feel a loud pop or snap when the clutch releases. This can be relatively dramatic as the pressure builds up enough to push the clutch off. The noise is normal and nothing to worry about.

If you are using a hand wrench, you will probably need to hold the clutch in place to keep it from spinning by using a tie strap.  

7. Make repairs/replacements and then reassemble

With the clutch off, you can replace it or make any other repairs that need attention. Be sure to put everything back together and torque the clutch bolt to spec. 

Should I Use a Puller?

A puller is an excellent tool to have around the shop. It can come in handy for various other purposes on your snowmobile or automobile, and I would recommend having one around. They aren’t expensive and are helpful. 

For this job, in particular, I think that the water method is more straightforward, and you don’t need a puller to remove the clutch. I’ve known other snowmobile owners who do repairs by the book and think the water method seems a little bootleg. 

In my experience, it works and shouldn’t be frowned upon. Plus, this method can help you remove a damaged clutch more effectively than a puller, so it’s good to know even if you do have access to a puller.

A puller will remove a clutch easily as well, so the choice is really up to you. 

Final Thoughts

Using the water/hydraulic method to remove a snowmobile clutch makes this task very easy to accomplish without a puller. I was pretty stunned when I first learned about it. It’s also like a lesson in fundamental physics and mechanics!

Through all the years I’ve spent working on snowmobiles and other engines, I’ve realized that there never is one right way to fix something. Often, the same result can be reached through different methods – which is on full display here. 

Have you ever used this method to remove a clutch without a puller? Let us know in the comments below! 

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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  • Mike H

    Great article!
    One extra step that helped was to apply plumber’s paste to the threads of the clutch bolt before the Teflon tape,
    Pack the threads and leave some space on the end of the bolt for starter thread.

    • Chaz Wyland

      Hi Mike,

      Happy to hear the article seemed to help! And noted about that other step, thanks for sending it my way. A little plumber’s paste is a great idea. Hope you’re having a solid winter!