In the past few days our discussion of snowmobiles has run the gamut from power systems to track mechanics and steering. Today, it’s time to take a step back from the nuts and bolts to see the forest for the trees. Just what are the environmental implications of recreational sleds, and what plans are in the works to increase engine efficiency? Unlike the environmental effects of automobiles and boats, those of snowmobiles remain understudied and to some extent uncertain.
The history of snowmobile engines reflects that of outboard motors in one key way. As recently as a few decades ago, both were being manufactured with little regard for their environmental impact. The amount and content of exhaust emitted by the engines was eventually deemed unacceptable, and the rise of four-stroke engines challenged two-stroke manufacturers like Yamaha to step up their game.
Today’s snowmobiles feature reduced emissions and increased engine efficiency. Where once speed and maneuverability were a sled’s main selling points, eco-friendliness has now joined the list. Modern-day snowmobiles run best on specially formulated 2 stroke oil. Snowmobile manufacturers continue to struggle with noise pollution concerns, however. Many sled makers have taken concerted steps to reduce noise levels.