How to Take a Snowmobile Off a Trailer with No Reverse


In our last post, we gave you lots of useful information for lifting your snowmobile safely and properly. What if you find yourself in a similar head-scratching situation where you want to remove your sled from a trailer but you can’t reverse? What do you do?

To take your snowmobile off a trailer with no reverse, try these methods:

  • Lift the snowmobile off the trailer to the ground
  • Use a ramp to guide the snowmobile down 
  • Remove the belt
  • Switch to a tilt trailer

In this post, we’ll elaborate on the above methods in more detail so you can safely remove your snowmobile from your trailer even if you can’t reverse your way off. You’re not going to want to miss it!

4 Methods for Removing a Snowmobile from a Trailer Without Reversing

Manual Lifting

In our post about properly lifting a snowmobile, we recommended the option of lifting your sled. We’ll once again suggest that here, with a caveat. Whether your snowmobile is liftable depends on how much it weighs. If it’s around 500 pounds, then you should be fine to pick the sled up with another person.

Once your snowmobile exceeds 500, maybe 550 pounds though, and especially if it’s getting into 600-pound territory, then it might be too heavy to lift. That’s at your discretion, but please don’t hurt yourself trying to move your snowmobile. Although it doesn’t have reverse, there are other ways of getting it off your trailer than physically picking it up. 

The good news is that lifting your sled from an elevated area like your trailer is easier than picking it up off the ground. To lift the sled without injury, you want to follow these rules for handling any heavy load.

Space your feet apart from one another so they’re aligned with your shoulders. You shouldn’t have both feet spaced evenly though, so move either your left or right foot in front of the other.

Then, squat, going down at your knees and hips. Do not bend your back. It’s okay to drop to one knee if that helps you get a better grasp on the snowmobile. If you do need to bend your knee, do so at a precise right angle, which is 90 degrees. 

Your back still should not bend as you’re down to grab the snowmobile. You want your shoulders positioned back, your chest more outward, and your back to remain completely straight. 

Then, begin lifting your snowmobile with your partner, raising up from your knees and hips. Avoid twisting or bending your back as you stand up. 

When putting your snowmobile back down, again, use your hips and knees to squat, never your back. 

Guide the Sled Down a Ramp

Okay, so your sled can’t reverse, which means a nice, easy slide down the trailer isn’t possible. Or is it?

A ramp system not only makes it easy to get your snowmobile off your trailer, but on as well. In our last post about the proper protocol for lifting your snowmobile, we recommended a great ramp system on Amazon from Black Ice, a top name in powersports loading ramps.

This ramp is 94 inches by 54 inches, so even if your snowmobile is on the bigger side, you should still be able to maneuver it onto and off the ramp with ease. The ramp is made of strong aluminum with a traction-grip glide center and 12-inch carbide ski glides. The Black Ice ramp can handle 1,500 pounds.

With snowmobiles especially, you can’t use just any ramp. You need one that can support the ski glides and the track of your snowmobile so the sled doesn’t slip right off the ramp as you incline or decline. 

If it’s easier or less expensive for you to make your own snowmobile ramp, that’s an option as well. 

To unload the snowmobile from your trailer, get into the back of the trailer and grab the snowmobile with both hands on the handlebars. Then, slowly, guide the snowmobile down the ramp. If it helps to have a second person at the rear of the sled, they can ensure it doesn’t begin rolling down the ramp too quickly, crashing into something nearby. 

Take the Belt Off

If you have an older snowmobile such as a 1996 Polaris that can’t reverse but can go into neutral, you can force the sled into that setting by taking its belt off. To begin, you need to open up your snowmobile’s hood and find the secondary clutch.

Then, near the airbox, you should see a plate adjacent to the clutch. Begin spinning this plate clockwise, directing the plate near the airbox as you spin. As you continue to do this, the belt should loosen up so you can remove it. You may need a second person to pull this off, so make sure you have a buddy handy. 

Use a Tilt Trailer

Your last option is to trade out your current trailer for a tilt trailer. As the name suggests, a tilt trailer can raise or lower at an angle to send whatever’s on the trailer off. An average tilt trailer can achieve an angle of 11 degrees. This might not sound like much, but that angle should be sufficient for getting your sled off your trailer.

Here are some solid tilt trailers from PJ Trailers to look into. One of their trailers features a deck width of 81 inches and can hold 7,000 pounds. You can even buy a tilt trailer with a deck width of 102 inches that supports between 15,680 and 24,000 pounds. Necessary for a snowmobile? No. That said, if you do other sports vehicle transport, a large tilt trailer like this could come in handy for you.

How NOT to Remove a Snowmobile from a Trailer

Unfortunately, if you do a bit of digging online, you’ll find a lot of faulty advice for how to remove your snowmobile from a trailer. That’s why we thought we’d take this section to share some info on what you should not do if you care about your snowmobile. 

Loosening Your Snowmobile’s Straps and Motoring the Trailer/Truck

Yes, some people do that, such as this YouTuber. Although their video seemed like it was more in the spirit of parody, lots of other people have videos online of a similar snowmobile unloading technique that don’t seem quite as joking.

Your snowmobile should attach to your trailer or truck with tie-on straps, which we discussed in our post about lifting a snowmobile. Otherwise, if you make a sharp turn or a sudden stop, your snowmobile can jostle and tilt, sometimes tipping right off your trailer! 

Loosening the straps and then gunning the motor of your trailer or truck will launch your snowmobile like a projectile. Who or what it hits, nobody knows, but it’s safe to say your sled likely won’t survive the trip. 

Raising Your Tilt Trailer and Letting Gravity Do the Rest 

Although tilt trailers make unloading convenient, the process still isn’t totally effortless. You want someone at the rear of your trailer to guide the snowmobile as it descends down the trailer. If you don’t do that, then as soon as you tilt your trailer, the sled will slide right down and crash onto the ground. Sure, at that point you’ve unloaded your snowmobile, but at what cost? Internal and external sled damage is very likely.

Pulling the Snowmobile from the Trailer

You see this a lot on snowmobiling forums where people suggest to simply yank your sled from the trailer. Abruptly pulling your snowmobile like this with no plan on how to handle it isn’t smart, as the momentum of your yanking is likely to send the sled crashing to the dirt or snow. Also, you could injure yourself by not following the proper lifting precautions. 

Is It Worth Buying a Snowmobile with Reverse?

If your snowmobile can’t reverse, then it’s likely one from the 1990s or early 2000s. Around 2003, Polaris introduced its electronic reverse system known as PERC. More and more sleds from Polaris after that point came with PERC reversal. Other snowmobile manufacturers created with their own reversing systems too, such as Ski-Doo’s Rotax Electronic Reverse or RER.

In this post, we talked about how yes, you can indeed retrofit an older snowmobile with a reversal system. You have to tinker with wires though, and finding retrofitted parts or kits for all old snowmobile models is rarely possible. 

If your budget allows, it’s within your best interest to upgrade your snowmobile sooner than later. These days, a reverse system isn’t something you have to go specifically looking for, as it comes standard.  A newer snowmobile includes more safety features too, not to mention it’ll be more fuel-efficient than older models. 

If you’re a Ski-Doo fan, the Renegade X-RS includes an 850 E-TEC RER system with a mechanical 900 ACE Turbo. The X-RS also comes outfitted with a two-stroke ROTAX 850 E-TEC engine with liquid cooling, a REV Gen4 frame, Pilot X skis, trail performance seating, and U-shaped aluminum handlebars. 

The Yamaha BT-TX LE 153 crossover has push-button reverse accessible via a gear shift near the handlebars. Other features of this sleek snowmobile are dual-piston braking, a four-stroke Turbo 998cc ultra-performance engine, and the Mitsubishi Electronic Control Unit or ECU. The ECU includes nine different sensors to gauge data on your sled’s running condition. Then, the ECU’s memory map can change turbo, manifold air pressure, fuel delivery, and ignition timing for better performance.

Final Thoughts 

If your snowmobile can’t reverse but you need to get it off a trailer, your best options are to use a ramp, manually lift the sled, try a tilt trailer, or remove the belt to set the snowmobile into neutral. You might also want to consider upgrading your snowmobile to one that can reverse so you can easily load and unload your sled anywhere, anytime! 

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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