A reputation of undeniable reliability isn’t developed overnight — it takes years of extensive research and development to produce a reliable product, and even longer to have it known for exactly that. Nonetheless, Polaris has all the experience a snowmobile brand can acquire over 60 years and there is no better proof of its craftsmanship than its cutting edge sleds.
But even then, the reliability of a snowmobile mainly depends on its engine and electrical components and how well they are taken care of. Careless handling and irregular maintenance can significantly hinder the performance and shorten the lifespan of your snowmobile. Luckily, you can prevent that by using a Polaris snowmobile service manual and fixing it on your own, thanks to the provided step-by-step troubleshooting instructions.
But first things first; how reliable are Polaris sleds?
How Reliable is Polaris Compared to Other Brands?
Polaris has been in the snowmobile business since 1954 and boasts hundreds of happy customers. The company produces a diverse lineup, including mountain, performance, and touring-oriented models, to cater to the demand of the North American market.
Over the years, the Minnesota-based manufacturer has earned quite a name for building the toughest sleds. And although brands like Ski-Doo and Arctic Cat typically offer better performances, Polaris snowmobiles are designed to take a lot more of a beating. In fact, even the US military prefers Polaris for its sturdy design and higher reliability.
Indeed, popular models such as the Titan, RMK, and Indy form a major part of the military snowmobile fleet deployed in Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks and a research station in Utqiagvik, both in Alaska, mostly due to their drivetrain and starting mechanism making them ideal for extreme temperatures.
Of course, no matter the brand, there is always a risk of breakdowns and you might need to get your hands on snowmobile manuals to fix your own.
Fortunately, you’ll only rarely need a manual if you own a Polaris sled, as the frequency of breakdowns is much lower than performance-oriented brands like Ski-Doo and Arctic Cat. Moreover, owners typically spend a lot less in repair and maintenance for their Polaris, while Arctic Cats are some of the most expensive ones in the market. Only Yamaha beats the American company in reliability, thanks to more durable and lower-maintenance 4-stroke engines.
How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a Polaris Sledge?
A Polaris snowmobile’s annual maintenance cost ranges between $200 and $500, depending on the model. Smaller and entry-level sleds, like the utility models, incur lower maintenance costs. For instance, the 550 Indy Adventure costs less than $10,000 and replacement parts are also much cheaper.
On average, owners spend around $80 on gas suspension shock, front shocks cost $52, and a brand-new Camso track can bill you over $600, but prices can go all the way up to $900 for specialized models. Furthermore, the front skis are the most vulnerable part of your snowmobile and are constantly subjugated to wear and tear. Expect to pay around $138 for a pair of Camso all-terrain Camo Skis.
Still, these expenses are nothing compared to the bigger and pricier models. The 850 PRO-RMK is a mighty mountain-oriented snowmobile with significantly higher maintenance costs — just the shock absorbers start at around $1,000. The Pro RMK also comes equipped with a specialized mountain track with extra tall groves beginning at $1,100. Moreover, the front skis are designed to take on extreme mountainous terrains, further increasing the price tag. A fresh pair starts at nothing less than $400.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that labor charges also form a sizeable portion of your maintenance expenses. Authorized dealerships or even local repair shops can bill you as much as $100 per hour in labor costs alone. For instance, a simple oil filter is priced at just $6-$13, whereas having it replaced could easily triple that price.
Clearly, labor charges surpass the actual price of the parts themselves, putting by the same occasion a significant dent in your pocket. Luckily, you can significantly cut on those costs with a snowmobile service manual; I use one I sourced from eManualOnline a couple of years ago to repair my 2014 Polaris RMK, and it already saved me more than a thousand bucks!
What Is Considered a High Mileage for a Polaris Snowmobile Engine?
Polaris’ biggest downside is that it has no 4-stroke snowmobiles to date, which are a lot more reliable than 2-stroke engines. But still, if you regularly take care of your sled using a snowmobile repair manual, a 2-stroke Polaris engine can easily last for 2,500-5,000 miles before it needs anything as serious as replacing a piston, honing the cylinder, and so on. However, doing so can easily add another 3,000-5,000 miles to your engine.
So, all in all, we are looking at roughly 5,000-10,000 miles mileage on a Polaris engine. In comparison, a 4-stroke engine’s mileage averages significantly higher, usually between 10,000 and 20,000 miles. However, 4-stroke engines are also costlier to maintain and repair, mostly due to the higher number of moving parts, making them more complex.
So the question remains — are Polaris snowmobiles reliable? Definitely yes. When it comes to 2-stroke sleds, Polaris is far ahead of the competition. Not only do they last longer, but they also incur lower maintenance costs.
However, just as with pretty much any motorized vehicle out there, they are only reliable if you stay on top of your machine’s recommended maintenance. Nonetheless, if you take proper care of it and give it some love every once in a while, a Polaris snowmobile won’t disappoint.