How to Start a Flooded Snowmobile: A Practical Guide

by Matt Powell | Last Updated:   11 months ago
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There are a multitude of reasons that your snowmobile may not be starting, but a common reason is a flooded engine. Like most other vehicles that use fuel for engines, the possibility of flooding exists. This occurs when an engine is fed fuel that will not ignite, typically because the air to fuel ratio is too rich for the engine, resulting in the spark plugs getting wet. 

If you want to know how to start a flooded snowmobile you should first try to assess the situation to see if it is flooded, then remove the spark plug and try to start. If that fails, you should try to clean and inspect the carburetor. 

The solutions mentioned above will speed up the process for starting your flooded snowmobile, but you can also fix the problem by letting the engine sit for a period of time. In this article, we will go over how you can identify when your snowmobile engine has flooded and the steps you can take to fix it. 

How to Tell if a Snowmobile is Flooded

There are multiple scenarios in which you can tell if your snowmobile has flooded. This will help you to address the issue more easily and prevent you from continually trying to start the machine, which can exacerbate the problem. 

Flooded snowmobiles can be a result of temperature changes, and this could be one of the first signs of a flood if the vehicle will not start. In colder temperatures, a snowmobile will need a richer fuel mixture, but this can lead to greater incidents of flooding than when used at higher temperatures. This is an interesting balance as you often use them in cool temperatures. 

Signs of flooding that are related more to the physical snowmobile include: 

  • The smell of gas: If you can smell fuel, especially near the exhaust, this is one of the most common signs of flooding. This means that the engine is not able to burn the gas as it is being sent to the engine.  
  • Cutting in and out: You may have flooded the engine if you start to hear the snowmobile start, and then it cuts out. The more you start the engine, the more gas you are sending, and this can make the issue worse. If it does not start after a couple of tries, stop and address flooding protocol. 
  • Strange engine noises: If your engine is making a crank-like noise or is quite different when trying to start, this can also be a sign of flooding. 

If you do notice any of these traits when starting the snowmobile, do not try and start the engine again as to not fill the engine with more fuel. You will need to address the problem by removing excess fuel, which we cover in a later section! 

How Long to Wait for a Flooded Snowmobile? 

If you do not have to fire up your snowmobile in a hurry, letting the engine sit can also be a practical solution to flooding, because a flooded engine is one that is full of gas, if you let the engine sit, you are giving it time for the gas to evaporate. You will need to lift the hood to access the engine and allow the components to get as much access to airflow as possible. 

Consider letting the snowmobile sit and allow gas to evaporate for around 20 minutes before trying to restart (these are similar to basic guidelines for a car). You can let it sit for longer if needed. The goal is to let the spark plugs dry and keep gas from sitting in the carburetor. This strategy works best if you have not completely fouled them in gas. 

What To Do After Waiting On A Flooded Snowmobile?

Once you have let the gas evaporate over the suggested waiting time, try restarting the snowmobile. Because the flooded mixture was too high in gasoline and richness, you will want to make sure that you do not add any primer (used in cooler temperatures for an easier start) this time around. This is especially true if you are starting the engine in hotter temperatures. 

In a lot of cases, you may be out on a trail or in cold conditions that are not ideal for waiting, which means you will need other solutions. If you are still having issues or you need to start the snowmobile right away without waiting, consider the fixes we recommend below. 

battery with multimeter

How To Start A Flooded Snowmobile

Now that you have identified that there is a problem with the various indicators of a flooded engine mentioned above, you can take some steps to solve the issue. Beyond waiting for gas to evaporate, you can rely on a couple of different strategies for restarting for your flooded snowmobile engine. 

  1. Assess the Situation for Floods

Once you have identified one of the issues that cause an engine to flood, you will need to look at all of your options. Depending on where you are, this will determine if you can let the snowmobile sit to evaporate or if you need to take more immediate action to fix the problem. To check for flooding, you will need to remove the hood to gain access to the engine. 

This will give you a better idea of what is going on underneath. If the smell of gas becomes stronger, this is a strong indicator that the engine has been flooded. From here, you can take further action. This is an important step to solving your flooding problem because it prevents you from trying to start it over and over and making the flooding worse. 

  1. Remove Spark Plugs and Start 

One of the most common solutions to starting your flooded snowmobile is to inspect your spark plugs. When an engine floods, these typically get wet with gas, and they are unable to spark or fire to start the engine. To address this problem, you will need to remove them and wipe them dry. Be careful when doing this as the components are fragile and can be broken easily. 

While the spark plugs are removed, you can also clear out the cylinders which may be full of fuel. This will make it easier to start once more of the excess fuel is removed. To do this, you will want to hold down on the throttle to open it and pull around 15 to 20 times. This will remove additional fuel from the cylinders. You can then replace the dry spark plugs. 

This video does a great job of addressing this issue and showing how it can be resolved. In some cases, you may need to replace the spark plugs if they have been damaged by the fuel. 

  1. Clean and Inspect Carburetor 

Another issue may be fuel or build up in the carburetor, and this should be checked next if the problem isn’t fixed with spark plug changes. The carburetor is the device within the snowmobile that is responsible for mixing the fuel and the air for combustion. When flooding occurs, the carburetor fills with fuel, and this can spill over to the engine. 

If you notice the carburetor is full of gas or is dirty, consider taking it out and properly cleaning it. When cleaning this, using a specific carburetor cleaner as to not damage it. Cleaning will make sure that the fuel can properly make its way to the carburetor without being blocked or overflowing. 

Once you have cleaned it, put it back into place and try restarting the engine. This should solve your problems if the spark plugs didn’t do the trick. This video shows you how to properly clean a snowmobile carburetor. 

Starting a Flooded Snowmobile Engine 

You hope to not flood your snowmobile engine, but if you do, make sure you have the necessary information and solutions to fix the problem. In most cases, you should be able to fix the issue by either waiting it out for evaporation or addressing the spark plugs to make sure they are dry! This will allow for a spark and make starting the engine much easier! 

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