Buyer's Guide: How to Buy a Used Snowmobile

Buying a snowmobile isn't exactly cheap, so many people choose to invest in a used snowmobile to allow them to hit the winter trails with their buddies. You can get a quality machine this way, if you know how. This post will tell you how to buy a used snowmobile wisely.


used snowmobile riding

Buying a snowmobile is more complicated than just saying, "I want a snowmobile." You need to consider where you'll be using it, how you'll be using it, who the intended rider is, and more.

Make yourself a snowmobile wish list.

The driver

Is this snowmobile for you or a family member? How experienced are you or they? If it's for someone else, are they old enough and mature enough for a particular snowmobile?

Where you'll be riding

Will you be sticking to groomed trails, hitting deep powder, or tackling steep terrain?

snowmobile fall

How you'll be riding

Do you just like being out riding or do you want to pick up some serious speed or do tricks?

1 or 2 occupants

If you intend to bring someone with you as a rider, you'll need a 2-person snowmobile. Two people shouldn't ride a snowmobile designed for only one person.

Lower weight and less cost or more durability?

If you want a lighter and less expensive snowmobile, you may prefer one with a 2-stroke engine. If you are able to invest more in it or want a heavier machine, you can go with a 4-stroke engine that will probably last longer.


There are seven different track options. You'll need to do research on all the different kinds, but the primary thing you need to know is that longer tracks cover more area and are better for flotation and driving over deep, soft snow while shorter tracks allow for tighter control and more agility and are best for trail riding, turning corners, and more particular movements.

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snowmobile riding

Know your budget, consider how much you are willing to spend to buy a used snowmobile and do your research to determine how the things on your wishlist come together in a snowmobile you can afford.

Make sure to factor in the cost of fuel, maintenance, and registration in the cost of the machine.


used snowmobile inspection

You can buy a used snowmobile from a dealer or an individual. Buying from a dealer will promise quality recent care and you'll be more likely to get a warranty. But you can often get a lower price from an individual and they owned the snowmobile, so you can ask them questions about their use and get ideas about the long-term care of the machine from them.


man on snowmobile

Always inspect the used snowmobile, even when purchasing from a dealer. It's a good idea to get it assessed by a mechanic too.


  • is the machine visibly clean and in good shape?
  • is there sign of any leaks of oil, coolant, or other fluids?
  • are the engine and clutches clean?
  • are the skis, belt, and brakes in good shape?
  • are the skis missing any carbides?
  • are the tunnel and bulkhead free from cracks and damage?
  • do the tracks rotate?
  • does the machine pass a compression test (you should run it)?
  • do the lights and gauges work?
  • do the shocks feel sound when you push down on the machine?

Start the machine up and let it run for between 5 and 10 minutes to see if it revs consistently. A test drive is also a great way to see both how the machine runs and if it is the right machine for you.

When test driving, listen for knocking, pinging, rattling, clunking, ratcheting noises, high pitch whines, rumbling noises, and rubbing noises. You don't want any of those. Make sure all the lights work and the controls work freely. Also pay attention to whether you feel comfortable with the machine.

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snowmobile riders

Don't hesitate to ask these questions. You have a right to know.


  • Why they're selling the machine.
  • If there are any problems with it.
  • How they've used the machine.
  • If they're the only owner.
  • How they've cared for the machine (ask to see a record).
  • Wh ere they've stored the machine.
  • How they've transported the machine.
  • If it has been in a wreck or natural disaster.
  • It's mileage.
  • About any service packages (from a dealer) or a warranty.

Also ask them to not start the machine until you get there. Some people hide bad engines by having the machine started before you arrive. It's running when you get there, so it seems fine, but they probably had a devil of a time with it earlier.


man snowmobile rider

Park it on a clean surface like cement or a board overnight to watch for surprise leaks. Make sure all the fluid levels are optimum before taking it out.

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