Snowmobile Chemicals, Lubes and Cleaners
Almost all snowmobile repairs involve the use of a lubricant, solvent, sealant or chemical of some type. Fact is that there are a lot of these products available, so how does a person know which is the most effective or safest cleaner or chemical for a particular repair?
Here are 10 common products that you might find yourself reaching for the next time your sled needs some TLC. We consulted with a few oil and chemicals experts and used our own experience to compile this information. As always, if you’re unsure about how, when or where to use a product, read the container for specific instructions or contact the company that made or sold it.
Know this… No shop is complete without a can of WD-40 or similar product. From displacing water or cleaning grime off a bellypan to penetrating bolt-sticking corrosion, this juice has thousands of uses. Products like WD-40 use triglycerides (fatty acids) as the main lubricant.
Do… keep a can of this handy at all times. Its uses are endless, including removal of sticker residue.
Don’t… use WD-40 near clutches, brakes or other components that you don’t want to be slippery.
Know this… Brake cleaner formulas vary by manufacturer, but products that contain acetone are most effective. Most brake cleaners dry quickly without leaving residue so they won’t cause slippage on clutches and brakes.
Do… use brake cleaner to remove brake dust and clean up components. Be cautious with it on rubber, but generally speaking, it won’t damage seals or O-rings.
Don’t… use near windshields or delicate materials and plastics. Brake cleaners as a family are dangerous to use on finished surfaces because they will dull the finish and make clear plastic cloudy.
Know this… Carburetor cleaners are formulated similarly across brands. It is a harsh solvent that uses petroleum to dissolve gum and carbon. Petroleum doesn’t dry and will leave an oily film on surfaces.
Do… use carburetor cleaner on heavily soiled, greasy, oily parts. Some carb cleaners leave residue, but it’s easily washed away by gasoline so this isn’t a concern in fuel systems.
Don’t… use carburetor cleaner on clutches. Trace amounts of petroleum on the sheaves will cause the drive belt to slip.
Know this… Many people think grease is grease, but volumes could be written about specialized products for specific applications. Whether used in high heat, extreme cold or for moisture resistance, it’s important to use the right product for the job.
Do… try to stick with one type of grease for the life of a bearing, shaft or suspension tube. Snowmobile chassis need low-temp, moisture-resistant grease.
Don’t… mix different types of grease because if they’re incompatible the product will break down and leave nothing to lubricate moving parts.
Know this… Liquid gasket material like Three Bond 1194 — formerly 1104 — and Yamabond partially dries to create a flexible seal between two hard surfaces. It is commonly used between crankcase halves.
Do… make sure both surfaces are clean and then apply a very thin layer of the semi-drying sealer. A fine bead should squeeze out between the parts.
Don’t… use liquid gasket products in place of a paper or fiber gasket, nor should it be used in conjunction with a gasket or O-ring.
Know this… Acetone is extremely volatile, meaning it is unstable and evaporates quickly — not to mention it’s very flammable. Since it is a solvent, it’s an excellent cleaner but you have to work quickly before it disappears into thin air.
Do… use acetone to clean the mold release off a new drive belt. It is an excellent finishing touch to clean up clutches after they have been serviced, too.
Don’t… use acetone near snowmobile body parts like hoods, side panels and windshields. It will soften and damage plastics and finishes.
Know this… Brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid that retains a low level of compressibility and maintains viscosity when subjected to a wide temperature range.
Do… keep the cap tightly sealed on a container of brake fluid and on the brake reservoir. Glycols in DOT 3 and 4 fluid absorb moisture. Brake fluid is corrosive. If it spills, clean the mess right away.
Don’t… mix DOT 5 brake fluid with others. DOT 3 and 4 fluid can be blended, but do not mix them with DOT 5. Combining DOT 5 with other brake fluids will cause a spongy feel from the brakes and the fluid will end up the consistency of yogurt.
Know this… Thread-locking compounds help prevent fasteners from loosening due to vibration or torque. Loctite Blue is designed for hardware that requires disassembly. Loctite Red is stronger and is removable if heated to 500 degrees F. Three Bond and Permatex also make similar products.
Do… clean off old thread-locking compound with a wire brush before applying a fresh bead.
Don’t… use products like Loctite on plastic fasteners or nyloc nuts.
Know this… Contact cleaner can be used just about anywhere cleaning and degreasing is needed on metal parts and electrical connectors. It evaporates quickly and leaves surfaces clean and dry.
Do… use contact cleaner to remove carbon buildup on spark plugs and exhaust valves.
Don’t… assume you can hose down anything with contact cleaner. Test an inconspicuous area to make sure it won’t damage the surface.
Know this… Tri-Flow is an aerosol or drip lubricant that works well to lubricate cables, heim joints and rod ends. Though classified as a light-viscosity lubricant, it’s a little thicker than WD-40 and it penetrates well. The product is made with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon.
Do… use Tri-Flow in many of same applications as WD-40, like on the slide rails to help install new hyfax.
Don’t… use such lubricants anywhere near the clutches and belt or brake pads and disc. Tri-Flow is really slippery and attracts dust.