How to Adjust Snowmobile Track Tension

by Patrick Nelson
Loose tension causes thumping.

Loose tension causes thumping.

Snowmobile track tension is important. Too much tension will result in power loss and can cause premature failure of the suspension due to excess stress on the parts. Loose tension causes thumping, and a very loose track can even come off. It's worth checking the tension periodically. Adjusting the tension is a project you can do yourself. You will need to invest in a snowmobile lift, however.

Drive the snowmobile onto the lift. Turn off the snowmobile's engine. Raise the lift, then lock it in place.

Check the gap between the slider shoe and the inside bottom of the track. It should be the distance specified by your snowmobile manufacturer. Bombardier's Ski-Doo Citation requires 1/2-inch. Other manufacturers have similar specifications. Check your owners manual.

Loosen the rear idler wheel retaining screw. Loosen or tighten the adjuster bolts located on the inner side of the rear idler wheels. As you'd expect, loosening reduces tension and tightening increases tension. Measure the gap between the slider shoe and the inside bottom of the track to ensure that it meets specifications.

Items you will need

  • Snowmobile lift
  • Screwdrivers
  • Wrenches


  • Always check the alignment when you adjust the tension. First, clear any debris out of the track with a brush so it doesn't fly everywhere. Start the snowmobile and accelerate slowly. Check to see that the track is centered, with the same distance on each side between the edges of the track, guides and slider shoes. To adjust the alignment, stop the engine; loosen the rear idling wheel retainer screws; and loosen the lock nuts. Tighten the adjuster bolt on the side that is farthest from the the track insert guides. Tighten the lock nuts and recheck alignment. And don't forget to tighten the idler wheel retaining screw.

About the Author

Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication "Producer Report" and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School.

Photo Credits

  • snowmobile riding image by Inger Anne Hulbækdal from