Used Snowmobiles: 5 Steps You Should Not Ignore Before Buying

While many people equate winter weather with shoveling snow and navigating icy roads, outdoor enthusiasts can’t wait to get out on snowmobiles. There’s nothing more exhilarating than cutting trails through newly fallen snow as the crisp air whisks across your face. Whether you’re a first-time rider or an experienced trekker, don’t ignore these five steps before handing over your hard-earned money for a used snowmobile.

Follow these 5 steps before buying a used snowmobile

Used snowmobiles
A woman drives two children on a snowmobile | Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images
  1. When looking at used snowmobiles for sale, research the make and model. Look at common repair issues, problem areas, and the sled’s overall reputation. Check if the features match what you’re looking for, and evaluate the resale value, which will help when negotiating a final price.
  2. Ask the seller for a maintenance history of the sled to give you an idea of any recurring problems. Maintenance records will indicate how the machine was cared for and reveal any significant issues the previous owner might have encountered. No records could be a warning the seller is trying to hide something.
  3. Give the snowmobile a thorough visual inspection to check for noticeable signs of damage or excessive wear. Look for cracks in the bulkhead or dents that could indicate a crash. Also, look for rust, suspension damage, or obvious leaks that could lead to problems.
  4. Start the engine. Let it run for about 10 minutes while listening for any rattling or knocking that could indicate an issue. If the engine seems to struggle or sputter, you might want to look for another model. Also, check the electrical components and lights to see if they’re in working order. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller to take the snowmobile for a test drive so you can hear what the machine sounds like while in operation. Any loud thuds or whines could indicate worn-out parts or problems with the drivetrain.
  5. Negotiate the price if you find a used snowmobile in good condition and want to make an offer. Consider any money you’ll have to put into the machine for possible repairs, and work with the seller to decide on a fair price that satisfies both parties.

Advantages of buying a used snowmobile

A new snowmobile costs about $15,000, so it makes sense to look for a less expensive option. Like a new car, a snowmobile depreciates as soon as you take it off the dealer’s lot. Finding a used snowmobile in good condition can save you substantial money.

Used snowmobiles cost considerably less than new models, which benefits new riders unsure if they’ll enjoy the responsibility and maintenance costs involved with owning a snowmobile. Making a smaller initial investment is a wiser choice for someone getting started with riding, especially because you can find used models for under $5,000.

Disadvantages of buying a used model

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Buying a used snowmobile comes with inherent risk because you have no way of knowing the actual condition of the machine, regardless of what the seller tells you. A used sled likely won’t have a warranty, and repair costs could add up quickly if you get stuck with a machine with numerous problems.

Another downside of buying a used snowmobile is that although you might get a great deal, the vehicle might not last as long as you expected. Snowmobiles don’t last forever, and routine wear and tear can limit the sled’s longevity if it’s driven hard. Generally, the more miles a used snowmobile has, the closer it is to the end of its life.

According to Snowmobile How, one of the most significant drawbacks of buying a used snowmobile is not knowing the maintenance history. “Without knowing what has been worked on or how the snowmobile has been treated, it can be a crapshoot as to what type of condition it is actually in.”