By Calvin Felker, Summit Freeride Ambassador
Not so fast.
Working in my family’s Ski-Doo dealership, I’ve seen plenty of customers come in with major issues because they completely ignored the break-in procedure in the snowmobile’s owner’s manual and just good common sense.
Read on for my tips on getting your investment broken-in right.
1] Have someone knowledgeable at the dealership take the time to give you a complete run-through of your sled. I go over how it works, the different features, how to replace and adjust the belt, how to start it if the recoil goes out, how to adjust track and chain tension and how to adjust ski toe-in toe-out.
2] Read the Owner’s Manual. I know, “that stuff is for newbies…” and “I’ve been riding for 20 years!” Look, Ski-Doo puts those instructions in there for a reason – so you get the best performance and longevity from your sled.
3] Start with an easy “shakedown cruise,” followed by more trail cruising. I know that for us Summit and Freeride riders, this can be very difficult. But you should do it. On the first ride, I like to stop after the first 8-10 miles, take the hood and side panels off and look every thing over. I’m checking for belt and clutch issues, coolant leaks and loose bolts. They’re extremely rare, but better safe than sorry. Keep cruising and varying the RPM until the break-in is complete. It’s OK to go wide open throttle, but only for short, 3-4 second, bursts.
4] Do regular full cool-downs. Let the engine completely cool down during breaks in and your trail cruises. This gives everything a good heat cycle, which helps the piston rings set inside the cylinder walls. The tighter fit the better.
5] Be Patient. This is a common sense step that applies to any motor vehicle. Resist the urge to start pushing the motor to its limits until you’re through the break-in period. It will take at least 3 full tanks of gas to get your E-TEC motor broken in. New on 2014 E-TEC models is a break-in indicator on the gauge at start-up, showing what percent of the break-in process you have left. Pretty cool. The E-TEC engines we saw at our dealership took anywhere from 350 miles to 750 miles depending on how “nice” you were to your sled. The more you take care of your engine NOW, the better it’ll be for you in the long run.
6] Make sure your Hyfax and heat exchangers are getting plenty of fresh snow. This will prevent overheating and ruining a brand new set of hyfax in the first couple weeks. As mountain riders, we usually don’t think of this since we primarily ride in the powder. But overheating can be detrimental to break-in – or even fatal to your engine if you ignore the red lights and flashing signs.
7] Run FULL Synthetic XPS oil. It is not just a gimmick – we see all sorts of different oils used and the XPS is the best for this engine! It’s specifically designed for E-TEC engines and Ski-Doo snowmobiles.
8] Put miles on your spare belt, too. If you can get a couple heat cycles on your belt and some good trail miles you would be surprised how much longer that belt lasts when you have to put it on when the powder is 4′ deep.
By the way, as a Ski-Doo ambassador, I practice what I preach. After I put together about 40 spring order Summits and Freerides, some friends who have new Summit SP and Freeride sleds headed out to do our break-in the weekend before US Thanksgiving. The snow is cooperating and we hit it perfect. We put on two days worth of more than 80 miles and letting the sleds cool completely down every 10 to 20 miles. They were long days, but we’re now ready for the Deep Nar Pow POW!