Snowmobile Clutch Cleaning and Inspection – GearHead Tech Tip

Snowmobile Clutch Clean and Inspect

Do you have low speed acceleration or bog issues on your snowmobile? Before tearing into the carburetors or fuel/air system, it might be worth your while to inspect and clean your snowmobile’s clutches. Since a snowmobile clutch is right next to the engine, the clutch surfaces and belt get a build up of grime caused by oil mist, exhaust gases, belt wear, and water. Eventually this causes friction and the clutches start to bind and stick essentially robbing the engine of power and giving the sled a sluggish feel. In some cases you may here a clunking noise when coming to a stop as a sticking clutch sheave pops back to idle position. This instruction will show you how to take take a part and inspect your clutches. It’s also a great idea to remove your clutches at least once a year for inspection and cleaning so that when a repair is needed down the road, the clutch won’t be seized onto the shaft from neglect.

You will need:

  • Repair manual for torque settings  (and dis-assembly instructions)
  • Clutch puller tool
  • Clutch spring compressor tool
  • Scotch-brite pad
  • Ratchet and set of sockets
  • ~45 minutes

First things first, you will need to remove the belt and then the clutches from the sled. If you’re hard pressed for time, you can clean the clutches off with brake parts cleaner and then wipe down with a clean dry cloth without taking them off the sled. If you want to do it the right way, you’ll want to remove the clutches from the machine for inspection and easier access for cleaning. Your repair manual should specify what type of puller you’ll need to get the clutch off and the specifics in taking it off for your particular machine make and model so we won’t go into that here.

Once you have the clutches removed Weight Arm Bushingsyou’ll need to take them apart. Take the primary clutch apart by removing the bolts holding it together. There are 6 bolts holding the clutch together on the Polaris sled we’re working on. To take the secondary clutch apart you need a clutch tool that will compress the spring and allow you to unbolt it and remove the spring safely. Once you Clutch Rollerhave both clutches apart, it’s time to inspect them for wear. Check the weight arm bushings, the rollers, and the center bushing for free play and wear. Check the weight surfaces for ridges or unevenness . They should feel smooth along the surface. The rollers should turn freely and smoothly and be smooth and round. They should have very little free play. Also inspect the helix for irregular wear. You may also measure both springs to make sure they are still correct specifications. If they’ve become too short then you will need to replace the springs. Use OEM snowmobile parts when replacing parts for factory performance and fit. If you want to modify it or customize your clutch for your riding style, you can also try aftermarket clutch parts.

Next you want to clean the clutch Clutch Belt Surfacesurfaces where the belt rides. Spray them with some brake parts cleaner and then wipe them down with a clean dry cloth. Make sure that there are not grooves in them. To help the belt grip and perform better on the clutches, take a scotch-brite pad and rub it on the surface of the clutch to smooth out any minor wear marks and give it a grip happy finish. Perform this on both the primary and secondary clutch surfaces.

clutch toolOnce everything looks shiny and clean, put everything back together. When screwing in the primary clutch bolts, use a crisscross pattern and do not use power tools so you don’t risk over torquing the bolts. Use the spring compressor when putting the secondary clutch back together.

If you haven’t checked your belt for cracks and wear, do so now before putting it back on your newly cleaned clutches. Once everything is back on and together go out and enjoy your happier responsive sled!

Do you have a tech question you want answered? Email your questions or suggestions to techtips@gearhead.com.

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