How to Adjust Snowmobile Track Tension

5 steps to help new sledheads tighten their tracks
Adjusting snowmobile track tension tighten skipping drivers
Photo A
Tightening a track may seem like an impossible task for anyone new to snowmobiling, but really, it’s not as hard as you may think. It can be done quickly, and with just a few tools.

■ When to tighten a track
There are a couple ways to know if your track needs tightening. First, if your sled makes a ratcheting sound under load. Second, if you have a fist full of throttle while powering up a hill or through heavy snow and hear a noise (even through your helmet) that makes you ask, “What the hell is that?” THAT is the sound of your track skipping drivers (Photo A).
Adjusting snowmobile track tension tighten sagging from center of rails
Photo B
Adjusting snowmobile track tension gauge tighten
Photo C
■ Got sag?
Another way to know, that is less jarring on the senses, is to lift the back of the sled off the ground and see how much it sags from the bottom of the center of the rails (Photo B). There will always be some bend; however, you can tell if it is the correct amount by using a tension gauge (Photo C). Check your manufacturer’s website or owner’s manual for the correct track tension (how much sag you should have) and tighten the track with the instructions below.

Adjusting snowmobile track tension tighten hyfax gap
Photo D
■ 5 Steps for Tightening 
1. Many of our sleds do well with the following formula and can be adjusted depending on performance: exert 15 pounds of downforce on the bottom of the track at the middle point on the edge next to the rail, then adjust for a 1.25-inch gap (Photo D) between the hyfax (bottom of the slide rails) and your track. Note that manufacturer recommendations may be tighter depending on your sled. Many tension gauges allow you to see how many pounds of downforce you are exerting, as well as showing you the gap distance. If your gauge does not, you can use a tape measure and fish scale. Simply attach it to the bottom of the track and pull down until you get to 15 pounds, then measure the gap.
Adjusting snowmobile track tension loosen the axle
Photo E
Adjusting snowmobile track tension loosen bolt in far rear of slide rail
Photo F
2. After checking the tension and determining that tightening is necessary, first loosen (Photo E) the axle. Keep the track elevated and loosen the bolt in the far rear of the slide rail (Photo F). This is the bolt that goes through the wheels on the back of the track. You will most likely need to use a wrench on both sides to keep it from just turning while trying to loosen from one side. Do not take this bolt out! Just loosen it.
Adjusting snowmobile track tension loosen jam nut on bolt that extends from back axle
Photo G
3. Next, loosen the jam nut (if there is one) on the bolt that extends from the back axle in the same direction as the rails (Photo G).
Adjusting snowmobile track tension tighten jam nuts
Photo H
4. Once the jam nuts are loosened, you will want to tighten the same bolt. HELPFUL HINT: Count how many times you turn it! Then do the same thing on the other side (Photo H). Tightening the nut the same amount of turns helps keep your track centered and rotating correctly. Check the tension again and tighten or loosen as necessary.
Adjusting snowmobile track tension tighten center
Photo I
5. Finally, make sure you tighten the jam nuts and the axle. This is very important! Then with the track still off the ground, start the sled and slowly give it throttle until the track starts to rotate, you will be able to see if the track is centered correctly. If it is really off center, you will hear it and see it.

Once you have determined that the track is tight and centered (Photo I), you are good to go. The type of riding you do and the age of your sled will determine how often you need to tighten the track. Newer sleds need to have their tracks tightened several times during a season until the track has been broken in.

We typically ride about 1,500 miles a season in the mountains and tighten the tracks 3-5 times on stock sleds. Sleds with turbos may need the track tightened
more often due to the strain put on the track from the turbo.
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