used snowmobile buyers guide

The Ultimate Guide to Buying the Ultimate Used Snowmobile

As the cold weather approaches, it’s time to nail down your winter ride. If a new snowmobile is a little too rich for your blood, you may consider purchasing a used sled. This can be a great way to get your braap on without breaking the bank.

But of course, you must proceed with caution. Much like buying a pre-owned car, you need to fully vet any used sled you may be considering to ensure it will meet your needs and give you lots of winter fun…not winter hassle.

Here’s a complete guide to help you make a purchase you won’t regret.

tips for buying used snowmobile

Create Your Wish List

Many people, especially those new to the sport, don’t realize how many types of snowmobiles there are and how many options are available. The secret to getting the right one is to do a little soul searching about what you ideally want from your sled. Here are some questions to ponder:

Where do you want to ride? Groomed trails? Deep powder? Or do you want to tackle mountain climbing?

What kind of riding do you want to do? Do you want to take leisurely rides, or are you a speed demon? Are you interested in trying tricks on your sled?

What is your riding skill/experience level? You’re going to pick a different snowmobile if you’re a beginner versus if you’ve been riding since you could walk.

Who’s riding? If you plan to have a rider, you’ll obviously need a 2-person sled.

2-stroke or 4-stroke engine? Generally speaking, 2-stroke sleds are more lightweight and tend to be a lower cost while 4-stroke engines are known for their longevity.

What track size do you want? Choosing a track length was a lot simpler when they only came in two sizes (the 121-inch short track and the 136-inch mountain sled track). Now there are seven options. Basically, long tracks are good for flotation and for riding in deep, fresh powder. Short tracks are better for tight trails with sharp corners.

There are a number of other options to consider. If it seems overwhelming, you may want to try borrowing friends’ sleds or renting different types of snowmobiles so you can see the differences.

Create your master wish list based on these questions, keeping in mind that you may have to compromise depending your budget, which brings us to our next point…

Determine Your Budget

Only you know how much you can allocate toward a pre-owned snowmobile. But as with everything, you get what you pay for. Remember to factor in additional expenses such as fuel, oil, registration, spare parts, equipment, and accessories.

Of course, part of staying in budget relies on some smart shopping, too. Research pricing on the models you are considering and use that to your advantage in negotiations. Just like with cars, Kelley Blue Book is an awesome resource to help you determine what you can expect to pay for your dream sled. They actually have a snowmobile-specific version. Don’t be afraid to negotiate a lower price depending on what you find in the inspection described later in this post, as well.

Where to Look

snowmobile engine

Just like with cars, you have two basic options for buying a used snowmobile: A dealer or private seller. And the pros and cons of each are also similar.

A dealer can be a great place to start, particularly if you know what brand you’re looking for. You can be fairly certain the snowmobile has already received some mechanical attention and has been cleaned up. It’s also much more likely you can secure a warranty from a dealer. However, you may be able to secure a better deal with a private seller and may be able to get a better picture of the sled’s history.

Thorough Inspection

Whether you get your new ride from a dealer or a private seller, make sure you look over the sled carefully. If possible, get it assessed by a mechanic.

If you are doing the inspection yourself, there are a great number of things to consider. This video gives a complete rundown.

Here are some of the main things you want to do:

  • Evaluate the general look of the machine. Does it look beat up? Are there any bends or warps in the tunnels? Tears in the seat?
  • Look for oil patches
  • Run a compression test
  • Make sure the engine and clutches are clean and leak-free
  • Check the skis for wear and missing carbides
  • Make sure you can rotate the track
  • Start the sled up and let it run 5-10 min. Make sure it revs consistently.
  • Check lights and gauges
  • Check the oil, making sure there’s no sludge
  • Check clutch for wear or deep groves
  • Check belt for wear
  • Push down on vehicle to check shocks
  • Check the brakes

Take a test drive, if possible. This not only helps ensure the machine works properly but will help you determine if it’s the right sled for you.

Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Snowmobile

snowmobile speedometer

In addition to your inspection, you want to ask the seller a number of specific questions:

  • Why are you selling this sled?
  • Has it been in a wreck?
  • How has it been maintained? Ask to see maintenance records
  • Where has it been stored?
  • What is your riding style? Hard? Easy?
  • Where do you ride?
  • What’s the mileage?
  • How many owners has it had?
  • Are there any current problems with the sled?
  • Are there any service packages available? (if you’re buying from a dealer)
  • When was the oil last changed?
  • How has the sled been transported? (Transportation on an open trailer can expose it to a lot of elements that can impact the condition of the sled)
  • Is there a warranty?

Remember, the only question you’ll regret is the one you didn’t ask. A snowmobile is a big investment, so don’t hold back! But whether you opt for a used or new sled, be sure you’re prepared for any situation.

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  1. Good information, ty!

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