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What to Look for When Buying A Used Snowmobile

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Everyone has a hobby, whether it’s quad biking, fishing, pontooning, or sledding! As with investing in any high price range sporting vehicle, when looking to buy a used snowmobile, it’s good to know some of the key insider tips. 

Maybe you’re a beginner and you’ve only been sledding for a few months or a year. On the other hand, maybe you’re a seasoned sledder and are looking to upgrade your current snowmobile.

It’s definitely easier to buy a used snowmobile to upgrade to once you know these handy tips and tricks. So, without further ado, let’s go through our tips on what to look for when buying a used snowmobile!


Everyone likes a bargain, but one of the biggest issues with buying a cheap used snowmobile is that you’re more likely to end up getting taken advantage of. When the deal seems too good to be true, it usually is.

 You need to do your research when buying a used snowmobile because while you may think you’re getting a bargain, in most instances you’ll end up spending more money on repairs later down the line. 

 It’s going to break more easily, and before you know it you’ll be going through the process of buying a used snowmobile all over again, and you’ll feel cheated. Remember, a snowmobile is a high-end machine, not a toy. 

 Snowmobiles are finicky, and when you’re spending such a large amount of money, you want it to get you something sturdy and reliable that’ll last a good long time.

We advise you to save up at least 6,000-8,000 dollars, give or take. This amount should get you a snowmobile in great condition that works reliably over several seasons with no notable issues.

 Tip: Try and avoid snowmobiles manufactured before 2007. There are so many newer models going second-hand with better, more advanced features, with parts that will be easier to find should you need them for any repairs or upgrades.

Features to Look for in a Used Snowmobile

Know what you’re looking for when it comes to the features on your next snowmobile. Ideally, you want to look for a used snowmobile with a narrower ski stance and a long track (155-163 inches roundabout).

Generally, the longer the tracks are the better, as these are the parts that dig deep into the snow.

You also want to look for used snowmobiles with low mileage. When searching, look for listings that show the snowmobile in a clean and orderly garage. The less exposure to dirt, dust, and gunk, the better.

Don’t be afraid to ask the sellers questions, and avoid those who dodge them or don’t know much about what they’re selling. Key questions to ask are:

  • What type of oil they’ve been using – is it brand specific?
  • Have they ever had their snowmobile serviced?
  • How do they store their snowmobile in the winter?
  • Have they ever replaced the engine? If so, can they provide paperwork to prove it?

Overall Look

If the snowmobiles you’re browsing look beat, they probably are! Trust your gut instinct here. Look out for any odd bends or warps on the tunnel and body of used snowmobiles. 

These are tell-tale signs that they’ve had a hard crash that could have done internal damage as well as the more obvious external denting.

Also, be sure to check skis to make sure they’re not missing carbides or looking too worn down. Oh, and the spindles. Check the spindles to make sure they haven’t been damaged or tweaked at. 

Suspension and A-arms are important to keep an eye on too. When searching, make sure that everything (e.g skis) aligns nice and straight. Other features to avoid are worn clips and lugs, and sliders that are in bad shape.

While shopping for a used snowmobile, it’s going to be difficult to find a model that’s in 100% perfect condition, so bear in mind that your budget may need to be extended to cover the odd part replacement or service. 

However, even with this in mind, keep your standards high so you don’t settle for a snowmobile that’s a bit too much of a fixer-upper.

As we mentioned before, even if it may seem like a bargain, you’ll be forking out more for repairs anyway.

The bottom line is, sellers that take care of the outward appearance of their snowmobile are usually the same people that properly maintain all aspects of it, so keep that in mind!

Tip: Stickers on the hood can often sneakily be used to hide cracks or dents. If possible, check any stickers when seeing snowmobiles with them up close.


There are so many great snowmobile brands, Polaris being one of the best and well-known. If you have any friends who sled, check out which brand of snowmobile they ride.

Find out what kind of brands your local dealers are selling and again: don’t be afraid to ask questions! This is a great way to get information that will positively inform your choice when buying a used snowmobile.

Building a good relationship with your local snowmobile dealer is always a good idea anyway, as they will be your go-to when your snowmobile needs servicing or new parts.

And hey who knows, they might even have some used snowmobiles in good condition themselves!

Ultimately, everyone has their own opinions on snowmobile brands, just like cars or bikes. Most of the time these opinions are based on word of mouth or personal experience, so be sure to talk to as many people as you can.

As well as this, different brands have their own pros or cons regarding different terrains, so the brand is often very personal to what you’re looking for.

Be Realistic 

Stick to your budget, and take your ability into account too when shopping around for a used snowmobile. See what you can get with your budget, and don’t forget to count in the costs of gas, oil, and spare or replacement parts.

A realistic budget is key when buying a used snowmobile. If it’s within your budget, we recommend going for the newest model of snowmobile possible.

With every year, snowmobiles improve, with better designs and better features. The more up to date you are, the better. Newer models will help you improve, and may even help you enjoy your hobby even more!

Check What’s Going on under the Hood

It’s easy to get distracted by what’s going on on the outside, and of course, as we’ve already stated, there are outward and aesthetic things to look out for when buying a used snowmobile.

However, the inside is as important, if not more important to inspect. You want to make sure the seller has taken good care of their snowmobile, and a clean snowmobile is a healthy snowmobile.

If the clutches and engine are dirty and there are lots of oil patches, then they probably haven’t taken great care of it. 

Also, be sure to check spark plugs to make sure they are a warm tan color. What you don’t want are black spark plugs, or even worse, spark plugs with a milky or white substance on them. Clutch sheaves should be smooth and clean, too.

If you can, when checking out the goods in person, see if you can start up the snowmobile and let it run for up to five or ten minutes. A healthy snowmobile should rev regularly.

While the snowmobile is on, you can also check lights and other electrical functions, like how the clutch engages.

If there are noticeable problems with the snowmobile’s electrics, you can use these as a haggle point and deduct the cost of the repair from the price you pay the seller as a whole.

When Buying a Used Sled – Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions!

We cannot stress this enough, hence why we’ve mentioned it multiple times throughout this guide! 

Knowledgeable and trustworthy sellers will know their snowmobile inside and out and be open to answering any queries you may have.

They’ll also be able to give you tips and advice on how to look after your snowmobile in the future too, should anything go wrong.

If they can’t answer your questions or tip-toe around them, this may mean they have had trouble caring for their snowmobile in the past, which could mean there are unresolved problems or that it wasn’t well looked after.

The snowmobile and sledding community is generally filled with a bunch of amazing and passionate people, who want you to have a great sledding experience and who are willing to help you out where they can.

Be sure to ask any friends you know who sled, as well as peruse forums as they’ll be full of all kinds of different snowmobile enthusiasts with different experiences and advice to give.

Most importantly, you want to make sure you’re getting the right snowmobile to suit your specific needs and situation. The more you know, the easier it’ll be to find your next dream snowmobile.

To start your search today, be sure to have a browse of our pre-owned inventory to see if there are any used snowmobiles up for sale that meet your needs and standards. 

If you have any questions for us or wish to make a comment on our services, feel free to contact us today!