Purchasing a Used Snowmobile: A Buyer’s Guide

The best used snowmobile is out there for you. You just need to find it!

Looking to Invest in the Best Used Snowmobile?

 

There are so many reasons to buy a used sled over a new one. Maybe you’re getting your kids their first ride. Maybe you’re looking for a beater when you want to go on those rough rides, or maybe you’re just on a budget.

No matter what the reason is for buying your snowmobile used, there are some important things to keep in mind before you write that check. Just like buying a pre-owned car, buying a pre-owned sled isn’t something you do without a little know how. And of course, you want to land the best used snowmobile possible.

 

Know Your Used Snowmobile Budget Ahead of Time

 

Obviously, you want to know how much money you have to throw around for this investment. Sleds aren’t cheap, especially if they’re some of the best used snowmobiles on the market. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the price of the sled isn’t the only thing to consider. Beyond what you’re shelling out for the snowmobile, you also need to think about what other costs might come up.

Think oil changes, spare parts, tune-ups. There are lots of little factors like this that can really add up if you’re not careful, even when it comes to landing the best used snowmobile for the price. Maybe you’re buying your used snowmobile as a project. In that case, you’re probably already thinking about these factors. But if you’re buying it to start riding this season, make sure you take some time to mull over those extra expenses. When you go to see your potential new, pre-owned snowmobile, try to get an idea of what those additional expenses are going to be and factor that into your budget.

 

The best used snowmobile depends on a lot of factors. Make sure you understand them all.

 

Unfortunately, there’s no real rule of thumb with these additional figures, but use your common sense with what you already know about snowmobiles and what it costs to repair them. If this is your first snowmobile, take a buddy with you who has an idea of what it might cost to get your sled in riding condition.

Consider becoming part of a snowmobile club to gain some additional knowledge (or even a buddy) on these costs. Not every snowmobile is the same, and widening your pool of knowledge will only be a good thing.

Explore Your Options When Searching for the Best Used Snowmobile for Your Style

 

How can you ensure you're buying the best used snowmobile for your needs?

 

Whether you want a Ski-Doo, Polaris, Arctic Cat, or any other kind of sled, just make sure you truly know what you want. Ask your friends what brands they like best, and more importantly, what brands they like least. Also, what do you want to use it for? Is this a mountain sled or a trail sled? Again, know what you want!

When you figure out what brand and/or what model you’re looking for, do some research on which one is considered the best used snowmobile and why. Read up on the brand’s website. Perhaps more importantly, check out a forum.

Online forums for snowmobiles are full of unsolicited opinions from people who just want to talk about what they like and what they don’t like. You should also consider making your own post, listing your budget and what you’re looking for in an ideal, used snowmobile.

Snowmobilers are a great group of people (and their snowmobiling memes prove it) who want to make sure you’re out there having fun. They don’t want you getting hosed by a snake oil salesman.

 

Take a Look at the Exterior of the Used Snowmobile

 

The best used snowmobile will make you feel like you received a huge value for your hard earned dollars.

 

What’s on the outside is usually pretty indicative of what’s on the inside. Take a look at the tunnel and the body for any bending or warping. Check out the skis. Are they worn or missing any carbides? Inspect the spindles for any looseness. Also, test that suspension. Don’t be afraid to get on top and shake it around a little bit. If it’s supposed to be the best used snowmobile out there, it can take it.

Lift the skid and rotate the track. Look out for worn lugs or clips and make sure the sliders are in good shape. Any of this can be fixed, but it’s all going to add to your budget, so the fewer problems the better.

If you don’t feel particularly confident in your ability to know where to look and what to look for, watch this quick video to get some ideas of where to start and what to do.

What’s Under That Hood?

 

The two people riding this used snowmobile made sure to do their due diligence before purchasing it.

 

Now comes the moment of truth. The way the engine and mechanics work should be your telltale sign of whether or not this sled is worth investing your time and money into. Give the engine and clutches a look for leaks. Also, check to see if they’re clean. If the engine looks dirty and not very well taken care of, this is a clue as to how well it was taken care of.

A great test is to just start her up. Let the engine run for 10 minutes or so and listen to how it sounds. It should rev evenly while it’s on. Peaks and valleys in the sounds are an indicator that the engine is going to need some work.

Look at the oil and keep your eye out for sludge. This is a sign that it’s been sitting a while, and again, a sign that it needs work. Also, inspect the rest of what you can see easily on the outside for mechanics and electric. Check that the gauges work and that the brakes are responsive and function properly. This is how you’re going to get a good idea of how much extra money you need in your budget, especially if you love the brand but the one you’re considering isn’t the best used snowmobile you’ve ever come across. Sometimes inventory can be tight when it comes to preowned sleds.

Most importantly, run a compression test and see for yourself how healthy that engine is.

Ask Questions!

 

You can bet this guy didn't buy his pre-owned snowmobile without asking a bunch of questions first.

 

This is the most crucial part of the process! You’re going to get vital information by asking questions from your seller.

 

Keep these questions in mind:

  • How many owners has this sled had?
  • Has it ever been in a wreck?
  • Where do you ride?
  • How many miles are on it?
  • When was the last oil change?
  • Was it transported on an open or closed trailer?
  • How has it been stored?
  • Are there any current problems with it?

 

While they don’t have carfax for snowmobiles, one thing you can do is to google the VIN number. It might not be able to tell you every detail, but you should be able to find out where it came from. If sleds are ever totaled, a lot of times they end up in an auction house, and a little bit of research should be able to tell you that much.

 

Shop Smarter When on the Hunt for the Best Used Snowmobile

 

No matter what your riding destinations or track lengths, the best used snowmobile is out there for you!

But don’t pay out every dime you own just to save yourself on the sticker price. There are used sleds out there that are more trouble than they’re worth. So keep these tips in mind when you’re out there looking for a new ride.

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