How to Adjust Snowmobile Skis

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Snowmobile skis are adjusted in a similar manner as an automobile front wheel alignment. The available adjustments are camber and toe. These adjustments are important for proper steering control, turning radius, ride stability, and to ensure even wear of the ski runners. Since these adjustments are made with the snowmobile resting on the ground, they are safe and easy to perform. No special tools or assistance is required.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Adjustable wrench or set of end wrenches

Toe Adjustment

  • Park the snowmobile on a flat and level surface with the skis facing straight ahead. Use a pencil and tape measure to mark the center of each ski one foot in front of the spindle and one foot behind the spindle. Measure the center-to-center distance between the two front marks and the two rear marks. In general, the front measurement should be about half an inch longer than the rear measurement. A difference outside of this parameter indicates you need to adjust the toe.

  • Locate the four tie-rod jam nuts and loosen them. Note that the jam nuts located under the hood are left-hand threaded. Look closely at the threads to determine proper loosening and tightening direction.

  • Use a pipe wrench to loosen the rod if it will not turn and it is completely round. Many tie rods have flat areas for attaching a wrench to the rod in case it does not turn easily. Only use the pipe wrench in the under-hood area where scratches in the tie rod paint will not be noticeable. After the tie rod is loose, turn it by hand. If a tie rod is bent or difficult to turn with a wrench, replace it.

  • Adjust both tie rods an equal amount. Twist the tie rod clockwise to adjust the toe in, and counterclockwise to adjust the toe out. Make small adjustments and measure again. If you extend the tie rods more than an inch, the tie rod ends can become too loose and fall off, resulting in loss of steering control.

  • Tighten all four jam nuts with a wrench when the toe measurement is within specifications.

Camber Adjustment

  • Inspect the ski spindles to determine if they are straight. If the skis are symmetrically shaped, check the camber by measuring and comparing the distance from the outside and inside edge of each ski to the ground. If the distance is within a quarter- inch, your machine does not need adjustment. If the ski is not flat relative to the ground, you'll have to adjust the camber. Note that you cannot adjust the camber on some designs.

  • Loosen the lower radius rod lock nuts with a wrench on the side that requires adjustment.

  • Turn the radius rod clockwise to shorten the rod, if the inside edge of the ski measures too close to the ground. If the outside edge measures too close to the ground, turn the radius rod counterclockwise to lengthen the rod. Measure again.

  • Tighten the lock nuts with a wrench when the camber is within a quarter-inch.

Tips & Warnings

  • According to Clymer shop manuals, check ski alignment at the beginning of each season, when you have replaced a steering component, or if control is a problem. For best results, refer to the snowmobile manufacturer's specifications for camber and toe measurements.

References

  • Clymer Polaris Snowmobile Shop Manual 1990-1995; Mark Jacobs; 1995
  • Clymer Arctic Cat Snowmobile Shop Manual 1990-1998; James Grooms; 1999
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