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Does a Snowmobile Run on Gas? (Explained for Beginners)

Snowmobiles are motor sleds that can easily be driven on snow, it is quite popular for short journeys.

Understanding which fuel is the best for your snowmobile, or which is a more reliable option is often complicated. You might be confused about the options available, whether they can be used for running your snowmobile.

Let’s not worry, instead, let’s learn all about it!

Does a snowmobile run on gas?

Almost all kinds of snowmobiles run on gas. Some require the gas to be premixed before filling up the fuel tank. The level of octane required in gas is usually mentioned in the manuals, and it must be strictly followed. Fueling with the wrong level of octane rating may knock off the engine.

Using gas for snowmobiles is an environmentally friendly act. Sometimes it requires the user to pre-mix both gas and oil. Nowadays, most snowmobiles require an octane rating of 87, which can prove to be cheaper than other gas types.

However, if the gasoline used has more toxic chemicals in huge quantities, such as ethanol, it can dry out engine parts, eventually knocking the engine off as gas itself is dry.

Do snowmobiles need premium gas?

There are many types of snowmobiles available, and premium gas is not a necessity for all types.

The older snowmobile engines, made with less technology, might require premium gas. This is true especially for the sport trail, mountain, or crossover snowmobiles. 

As they offer high performance, they may need gasoline with an octane rating of 91 or greater.

We must always appreciate technology. In recent times, advanced snowmobiles require the regular type of gas, so the users will not have the chance to select the wrong grade of fuel.  

However, it is always suggested to read the recommendations of the product’s manuals before fueling your snowmobiles, as each snowmobile is designed to run with a certain level of octane.

If the owner’s manual recommends an 87 octane rating, which is not premium gas, fueling it with premium gas will provide no extra benefit.

Do snowmobiles use mixed gas?

It might depend on the engine and its needs as not all of them are the same.

There’s a two-stroke and a four-stroke engine. Four-strokes do not need mixed gas or pre-mixing of gases. This is because these engines have a separate compartment for the gases.

On the other hand, most of the two-stroke engines need a pre-mixing of gas. You might need to be clear about the ratios of gases used in the mixture. But if you have a turbo or a supercharger attached to it, you can directly use the fuel without having to mix the gases.

What kind of gas does a snowmobile use?

Selecting which kind of gas your snowmobile needs can be sometimes confusing. Luckily, it will be mentioned in the instruction manual. The wrong type may shorten the engine’s life.

 In most gas stations you’ll find three types of gases, they include:

Regular Gas

Regular unleaded gas has an octane rating of 87 and is known to be the most used gas. 

It is the by-product of crude oil and is the minimum requirement of any snowmobile. Touring or trail snowmobiles run smoothly in regular gas as there are little chances of rough usage. 

The newer snowmobiles also recommend regular gas as they have sensors that detect bad strokes. It might be able to minimize the damage caused by the 10% ethanol in regular gas.


It is also known as Plus. Typically, it consists of octane levels of 89 and is the least used.

It has better resistance than regular gas and has engine cleaning detergents just like the other two gases. However, it has not been able to gain popularity in stations since it’s rarely mentioned in the manuals.

Though, you can still find snowmobiles which mentions to use 89 level octane for better performance. 

Premium Gas

As its name suggests, it is of exceptional quality. It has an octane level of 91 or greater. 

If you have high compression ratios in your engine, it will be more like using premium gas. What makes it better than any of the gases is that it contains the lowest percentage of ethanol.

Mostly, the high power snowmobile requires premium gas for the engine to perform well on the trails. 

In some cases, an octane rating of 93 may be known as ultra or super-premium. It can be comparatively expensive than the previous types of gas mentioned as it costs 15 to 20 cents more than regular and mid-grade gas. 

How much gas does a snowmobile use?

It may vary for different models. It also depends on the usage, the miles travelled, its engine, and its capacity. For a regular sled, approximately 10-20 gallons of gas is needed per hour if it’s used continually.

Snowmobiles with a 4-stroke engine will require fewer gallons than a 2-stroke. This is because 4-stroke engines ignite the fuel slowly. They can also run on gas without having to mix the gas and oil. They burn a quart of oil with each tank of gasoline.

A 2-stroke engine may need 9-15 gallons per hour. But if you attach a turbocharger, it burns a lot of gas as it forces extra air into the engines.

How to mix gas for snowmobiles?

It is rather important to keep track of the ratios of oil and gas used.

A 2-stroke engine will more likely require mixed gas. Hence you should first select the oil suitable for a 2-stroke only. Usually, the ratio will be mentioned in the chosen oil bottle label and it works perfectly fine.

After selecting the oil, move to mix the gas and oil. The ratios can be ranging from 20:1 to 40:1. For a 40:1 ratio, if you want to use 500 milliliters of gas, just mix 20 liters of oil in it and fill the mixtures in your tank.

You can take help from the chart below to match with the suggested ratios:


How far can a snowmobile go on a tank of gas?

Different snowmobiles tend to have different sizes of tanks. It can hold from 9 to 12 gallons of gas at once. On average, with one tank of gas, a snowmobile can travel around 67-300.

The environment also matters. If there are dense layers of snow on the trails, it will be expected to travel 40-45 miles, which is the lowest it could travel with a tank of gas.

If a turbocharger is attached, it burns the gas faster, finishing up the tank traveling a few miles. However, the tank size is more important when calculating the miles traveled.

What is the best gas to run in a snowmobile?

It is important to understand which gas will be more budget-friendly, given that it will provide the highest level of protection from engine wear and tear.

For peak performance, read the owner’s manual, as each model is designed to be operated with a particular gas type. However, it will also depend on how you use it.

If you have a sporty snowmobile, and it’s for rough use, premium gas would be more reliable. Its high octane levels will let the fuels ignite with a relatively slower process. It can be used for longer journeys as it works more efficiently, emitting fewer exhausts.

On the other hand, for a 4-stroke engine or the latest snowmobile models, regular gas may work just fine.

Its updated engines made with better technology might not need 91 octane rating gas. To know what suits your sled the most, you may test different gases and keep an eye on its performance.

Can I run 100 octane in my snowmobile?

Octane levels indicate the fuel’s ability to withstand the damage, it helps in avoiding knock.

If your engine uses a high compression ratio, you can use a 100 octane level. It is recommended when the compression ratio is 13:1, 14:1, or 15:1.

Mountain trail or racing snowmobiles if fuelled with a 100 octane rating, will show benefits. It may result in a longer lifetime.

However, while driving it might be slightly less powerful with fewer MGP if fuelled in a lower compression engine. You can fill it in with fewer risks but there will be no change in performance, nothing exceptional.

Is ethanol bad for snowmobiles?

Yes. Ethanol can be very harmful to a snowmobile and can play a huge role in shortening its lifetime, especially when your sled is not updated in terms of technology.

It is a good solvent. It can easily dissolve the components in your snowmobile. It absorbs all the moisture and it can cause the vulnerable components to dry out, such as rubber seals and the hoses in the engine.

 Alongside such damage, it can create disruptions in the gas mixture when it’s stored for a long time. Absorbing water from the tank imbalances the gas to oil ratios. Additionally, it can absorb 50 times more water than regular gas.

Using gas with more than 10% ethanol will damage your sled in months. It will only lead to poor performance.

Generally, snowmobiles can easily run on both gas and oil. If the correct octane level in the gas can be identified, it can last for many years. Proper maintenance needs to be taken if you expect smooth drives.

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