Can You Start A Snowmobile Without A Belt?


It is summertime, and your snowmobile is just sitting in the garage, collecting dust and doing pretty much nothing else. You took out the belt, so it does not get damaged due to the high temperatures. But you wonder if it is a good idea to let it sit without any use or if you should start it to make sure everything is working properly. But the most important thing, can you start your sled without the belt on?

First of all, you indeed are able to start a snowmobile without a belt, but you must do it with extreme caution and to check that everything is working properly and keeping your sled in good shape. Running, though, will be impossible. And engaging the engine above idle, especially without a belt, is dangerous because you risk damaging the sheaves or activating the clutch, which might cause the engine to blast off.

As you want to do things right, and we want to help you, in this post, we give you information on starting your snowmobile without the belt, the dangers of running the sled in such conditions, safe practices, and other helpful information.

Is It Safe to Run a Snowmobile Without a Belt?

Even though you are able to start your snowmobile without a drive belt, it is not recommended to try to run your sled without the belt due to the dangers it comes with it. Also, the performance of your snowmobile could be compromised. 

Some riders claim it is possible. They said they could run their snowmobile without the belt, keeping it below idle without increasing the RPMs.

When You Should Start Your Snowmobile Without a Belt

As we mentioned, you will not be able to run a snowmobile without a belt. Nevertheless, there are two circumstances in which you must start the snowmobile without a drive belt:

  1. Keep the snowmobile in good shape. 
  2. Verify any issues with other components.

It is good for your snowmobile to be warmed up during summertime, so it does not remain without any use for months; most people will do this without the belt, storing it in a cool place. This also helps to know if any piece of equipment is not in proper shape. 

If you are the one that handles the repairs and maintenance of your snowmobile, there are a few safety tips to take into consideration to avoid injuries and damages:

  • Always use protective equipment, such as gloves and eye equipment.
  • Position your body in a way to avoid contact with the clutch and engine, and stay away from the “launch zone”.
  • Use tools correctly.
  • Keep a clean environment, be aware of the surroundings.
  • Always have an emergency kit handy.
  • When changing, replacing, and putting a new drive belt, strive to get it done correctly.
  • Do a regular check on the drive belt and change it when necessary.

Why It Is Necessary To Have An Extra Snowmobile Drive Belt

Due to all the dangers that having a snowmobile without a belt might involve, in the case your belt breaks in the middle of a ride, it is better not attempt to keep running, so having an extra belt is like having a spare tire for your automobile.

Having a spare belt is a must-have to keep safe practices and keep your snowmobile in the best conditions possible.

Where To Store The Spare Belt

Nowadays, for convenience, a lot of snowmobiles have a special feature, ”snowmobile belt holders’, which are the perfect place to keep the spare belt stored. If your snowmobile does not have this feature, you are able to store it in a tunnel bag. It is completely important to store it in a cool place, so keep it away from under the hood. Heat could reduce the lifespan of the drive belt.

Belt Maintenance For A Longer Lifespan

It is crucial to give maintenance not just to the usual pieces of your snowmobile, but the belt itself needs some maintenance to extend its life. Here you have some tips to give some care to the snowmobile drive belt:

Clean

First, remove any built-up glaze from the belt and then remove it from the snowmobile; make sure to consult the user’s manual or search your model on the internet to be sure you are doing it correctly. 

Then, clean the clutch sheaves with a scuff pad; you could use acetone to clean it. Check for any signs that might suggest the belt is worn out. Whether you are using the same old belt or installing a new one, clean it with lukewarm soapy water; once it is clean, continue with the primary and secondary clutches.

Deflection

Check the belt to determine whether it is strained and sitting too low in the secondary clutch. If the outside clogs of the belt are extended over the sheaves, either the belt is stretched, or you will need to remove some spacers on the secondary clutch to close the gap.

To install the replacement belt, clean it and wait for it to dry completely. Place the snowmobile on a platform or go for a brief ride to see where the belt rests in the clutches. You should see about 1/8 or 1/6 of an inch of the belt hanging under the secondary sheaves. If this is not happening, then the belt is not the right size, or the clutches need some alignment. You might add or remove shims to adjust the belt deflection.

Measure the deflection to check if it meets the manufacturer’s standards.

Break In The New Belt

Here we give you some tips to help you break in the new belt you just installed on your snowmobile, and these three tips will surely assist you in correctly seating your new belt:

  • A 30 to 60-minute ride should be more than enough to break in your new belt. 
  • Adjust your throttle and speed when breaking in your snowmobile belt. 
  • Avoid long trigger pulls or aggressive riding. 

What Is The Cost Of Snowmobile Belts?

There are a lot of options for snowmobile drive belts in the market. Prices might range between $40 to $250. The lower price options are good and will run around 1,000 miles if run moderately. The higher prices are made with a better technology that extends the belt’s lifespan, so we can say they are of better quality. 

Can A Snowmobile Start Or Run Without A Can?

Yes, a snowmobile can start and run without a can. However, this will decrease the power, and it will potentially increase the noise. Running your ride without a can is not a recommended practice as it will lower the snowmobile performance levels.

Final Thoughts

Even though you can start your snowmobile without a belt or a can, there are some things to consider to do it safely; many dangers might come with trying to ride without the drive belt, and it is impossible to run without it, as the clutches will not have anything to run.

It is better to invest in a good quality belt and buying a spare belt in case of emergency is always a good idea. Never forget an emergency kit when starting and checking up the state of your snowmobile during the summer as well as having the proper safety equipment, like gloves and eye protection.

Sources:

Longevity of Snowmobile Belts

Ryan Conner

Outdoor enthusiast with several years of snowboarding experience in the winters and watersports activities all summer. Living within 3 hours of 4 well-known ski resorts, I get plenty of board time from Nov-March every season.

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