How Does a Snowmobile Work?

by Suzanne S. Wiley
Get instruction in snowmobiling before attempting to ride.

Get instruction in snowmobiling before attempting to ride.

Snowmobiles, also called snowmachines, function like a combination of a motorcycle and a military tank, letting you cut through snowy areas with relative ease. In fact, the snowmobile is based on tank technology, with a large track pushing the machine through the snow. Snowmobile models range from very basic beginner machines to heavy-duty vehicles meant for use on mountains, but they all tend to have a similar setup.

Steering and Guiding

Snowmobiles have handlebars that are connected to two ski-like attachments under the snowmobile in front. Turn the handlebars to turn the skis. The skis have shock absorbers on them to lessen the bumpiness of the ride if you travel over lumpy terrain. Work the brakes on a snowmobile by squeezing a lever on the handlebars; this should be on the left handlebar specifically. The lever on the other handlebar is the throttle, which increases your speed. Note that some lower-end models do not have a reverse function. Snowmobiles also have a kill switch for the engine when you need to stop the machine quickly -- kind of like an emergency brake. This is usually located on the handlebars near the throttle.

Engine and Traction

Snowmobiles have a clutch system that transmits power from the engine down to the track underneath the main body of the machine. When you squeeze the throttle lever, you send more fuel to the engine, which transmits more power to the clutch. The clutch system uses pulleys to move the power from the primary clutch to the drive belt and secondary clutch, which moves the track. The length of the treads on the track can differ between models. Snowmobiles meant for use in deep snow or on mountains have more prominent treads for better traction.

About the Author

Suzanne S. Wiley is an editor and writer in Southern California. She has been editing since 1989 and began writing in 2009. Wiley received her master's degree from the University of Texas and her work appears on various websites.

Photo Credits

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