Tips for buying a used snowmobile

What you should know before picking one out

By Cottage LifeCottage Life


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From the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs

If you’ve always wanted to go snowmobiling but just can’t afford a new one, don’t worry. There are many affordable pre-owned and non-current sleds available. Here are a few tips to help you pick the right sled for you at a fraction of the cost of a new one.

1. Decide how you intend to use the sled and what you’re willing to spend

  • Will you be using it as a work sled to haul wood out of the bush, or for family trail riding around the cottage
  • Will it be carrying a passenger regularly or just the operator most of the time?
  • Will it be used off-trail in deep snow or mostly on groomed trails?
  • Will you use it for long trips to different destinations or mostly short day rides?
  • How much are you prepared to spend?

Setting a budget and deciding how and where you will use your sled helps narrow down  model choices and gives you better shopping criteria.

2. Do your homework

  • Visit the four main manufacturers’ websites: PolarisYamahaSki-Doo, and Arctic Cat and familiarize yourself the various models and intended use categories (e.g.Trail; Crossover; 2–Up Touring; Multi-Purpose).
  • Make some notes on suggested retail prices for new and non-current (one- or two-year-old, but still unused) sleds.
  • Learn about options available on your sled (e.g. electric start, heated hand and thumb warmers, reverse, adjustable back rest, luggage rack.) and make a list of the ones you want.
  • Visit sleds2buy and autotrader to check out used market prices compared to new. Also see what makes, models and model years meet your intended usage, preferred features, and budget range.
  • Search online for  “tips on Buying a snowmobile” and read other buyers’ experiences and advice.

3. Armed with your notes, some basic knowledge, and a list of questions, visit your local snowmobile dealers

  • Ask to meet with the owner or an experienced sales rep.
  • Introduce yourself and explain what your needs, preferred options, and what your budget is, and ask if they have any “babied” (lightly used) sleds that might fit the bill.
  • Ask a lot of questions and use the experience to further educate yourself, but don’t buy.
  • Make notes and write down the manufacturer, model, year, and options of any sled that comes close to meeting all or most of your criteria, but don’t be pressured into buying.

4. Go out and negotiate your best deal

There are many great low-mileage, pre-owned snowmobiles just waiting to be purchased. Once you find the right model, you should bring along a flash light, a jack stand and a buddy to help you inspect and buy a snowmobile.


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This article was originally published on February 5, 2009

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