Snowmobile Buying Guide

How to Buy a New or Used SnowmobileSnowmobiling is a fun winter sport and a great way to get around the snow. If you enjoy this sport, you may be thinking about getting a snowmobile. Before you can go out and get a snowmobile, you will need to find the right one for your needs. With so many on the market and many more making their way onto the market each year, there are some decisions you need to make in order to choose the right one for you.

Why Buy a Snowmobile?

There are many reasons to buy a snowmobile. Snowmobiling is for everyone, and snowmobiles are easy to learn how to drive. By being on a snowmobile, you can explore the great outdoors in the winter. Snowmobiling is a great family activity, and with your own snowmobile, it makes it even easier to enjoy this activity. It’s hard not to be excited about the prospect of riding around on a snowmobile—no matter how old you are.

Snowmobiling is also a great way to make new friends. There are plenty of snowmobiling clubs that can be found all over and snowmobilers are a friendly bunch. Snowmobiling is great exercise, because it requires a lot of muscle even while being seated. With your own snowmobile, you can be sure to always get out there and get your winter exercise. Before you buy a snowmobile, you may want to rent one in order to make sure you truly love the sport.

Types of Snowmobiles

Whether you are a fist-time snowmobile buyer or are looking for an upgrade to your current sled, it helps to know the different types of snowmobiles that are on the market.

Entry-Level Snowmobiles

An entry-level snowmobile can also be called a trail snowmobile, and they are usually light and easy to maneuver. There are easy-to-use electric starters, and they can also be equipped with electric reversing. They are cheaper than other snowmobiles, so if you go for a few rides and then decide it’s not your favorite hobby, you aren’t breaking the bank in the process. A trail model, as the name suggests, is designed for use on groomed trails, so you shouldn’t be going through any deep snow or rough terrain.

Sport Trail Snowmobiles

A sport trail snowmobile is a step up from an entry-level snowmobile, and this can be a good choice once you are more comfortable with riding. Sport trail snowmobiles offer more speed than an entry-level ones, but they still have a similar small engine so you don’t get overwhelmed. If you’re already familiar with snowmobiling and are confident in your skills, you may want to start here.

Performance Snowmobiles

If you are looking for a thrill, then a performance snowmobile is going to be the best option for you. These snowmobiles have high powered engines, tight handling, shock absorption, and advanced suspension. These features make it easier to speed around the track or go over jumps with ease. If you are brand new to snowmobiling, you may want to wait until you are more experienced before trying one of these.

Touring Snowmobiles

A touring snowmobile is a good choice if you are looking for long-lasting comfort while riding. These snowmobiles have seating for two, extra long tracks for a smooth ride, a heavy frame, and other features, such as heated seats and backrests. These are the right choice if you are looking to spend all day sledding but don’t care much about performance or speed. For example, if you are interested in a long sightseeing tour of a national park, this is the snowmobile for you. The extra seat also makes it a choice if you want to ride with your friend or partner.

Snowmobiles for Mountain UseMountain Snowmobiles

Mountain snowmobiles are built to be more narrow and long than other types in order to propel up steep inclines. In order to get up those inclines, they also need a powerful engine. Most of the engines on these clock in at over 150 horsepower in order to offset high altitudes.

Utility Snowmobiles

Utility snowmobiles are a good choice if you are going to use yours for towing, hauling, or other work purposes. These have wide tracks and long frames in order to power through heavy snow and trails. If you’re looking for a snowmobile purely for entertainment, you won’t want one of these.

Crossover Snowmobiles

These snowmobiles are made to handle just about any sort of rigorous riding. They have excellent reaction for those that love the trail, along with fine-tuned handling and come equipped with long tracks in order to handle deep powder, in case you want to veer off the trail and explore other surroundings. Just remember to pack your snowmobile shovel in case you end up in a snowbank.

What Factors Should Be Considered When Choosing a Snowmobile?

Choosing the right snowmobile depends on a few different factors. Knowing these factors can help you make the right choice for your specific needs.

Riding Style

If you already have experience with snowmobiles, you likely know the style of riding you enjoy most. However, if you’re a beginner, you might not know which style will end up being your favorite. Your riding style will depend on the types of trails you ride, if you want to go off-trail, how often you want to ride, and how fast you want to go.

Knowing your style well will help you pick a snowmobile that matches it. If you are a beginner, don’t be afraid to ask for help. A snowmobile expert will be able to help you decide on a snowmobile that fits you best. If you are afraid to jump right into buying a snowmobile, try renting different types of snowmobiles to see which one feels best to you.

Engine Power

Snowombile Engine PowerThe engine can either be two stroke or four stroke. Usually, two strokes deliver a great power-to-weight ratio and give a faster response, and they are compact and lightweight. Four-stroke engines are typically larger and heavier, which makes for a more powerful engine but are more difficult to control if you’re a beginner. Four-stroke engines have undergone a lot of changes in recent years due to EPA laws on emissions. The new models are still heavier, but they don’t require as much maintenance as two-stroke engines, which is another part of their appeal.

Track Length

The dimensions of the snowmobile track matter a lot. A long track will range between 120 and 160 inches, and a deep track lug of more than two inches is a better option for those who want to ride both on and off the trails. This track length tackles bumps pretty well and floats better on powder, while still providing a great grip on deep power. Long tracks also come with some extra weight and are more popular with utility, mountain, and touring snowmobiles. Any snowmobile that carries more than one passenger will benefit from long tracks.

Short tracks maneuver turns better and get to higher speeds, which makes them popular for high-performance snowmobiles. If you’re brand new to snowmobiling, you will probably want to start with a shorter track. However, if you want to start with a long track, you can add snowmobile studs to it to give yourself more control.

Dealership Support

If you are buying a new snowmobile, then you want to make sure you purchase it from a reliable dealer who will give you help as you get acquainted with your snowmobile. Some machines may get recalled or face warranty issues. You want a dealer who is near you and also willing to help you through the process.

Confirm that your dealership offers maintenance and repair services if you know you don’t want to perform maintenance on your own. This way, you know you have a place to take it if something goes wrong and you aren’t left with a non-functioning snowmobile taking up space in your garage.

New vs. Used Snowmobiles

One of the biggest benefits of getting a used snowmobile is a lower cost, but a used sled may come with some quirks and surprises that you won’t discover until after you’ve purchased it. This is one of the biggest arguments for buying new—if something goes wrong, you can just take it back to the dealership, and they’ll fix it. However, if you’re getting into sledding with the guidance of a pro, you may not even need to worry about that.

Of course, not everyone has access to a snowmobile expert, and that extra peace of mind can be essential for those who are brand new to the hobby. Buying from a dealership means paying more, but it may be worth it—especially if the engine stops working.

The additional cost of buying from a dealership also means you should get the latest technology, and that can be a pro if you’re the kind of person who loves having the most recent tech. You are also more likely to get the exact snowmobile you want when buying new, which may not happen if you’re buying used.

Tips for Buying a Used Snowmobile

When buying a used snowmobile, there are plenty of things to keep in mind.

Do Your Research

Don’t walk into a snowmobile dealership completely blind. Do your research and have an idea of what sort of sled you want (or at least what you want to do with it), the general price range you can expect, and so on. Doing research beforehand will also save you time later.

Set a Budget

Whenever you’re planning to make a big purchase, whether it’s a house or a snowmobile, you should set a budget. Very few people have unlimited money, and setting a limit on yourself can help keep you from making an impulse purchase.

Start It Up

Just like when you’re buying a car, the dealer should turn on the sled’s engine so you can listen to it for yourself. You want to hear a smooth engine without any sputtering. If the engine doesn’t sound good, don’t buy the sled.

Check the Vitals

Inspect the track, wheels, skis, belt, clutches, engine, and the rest of the parts. If there is anything that looks excessively worn, ask about it. Always bring up any questions and concerns that may arise while inspecting a snowmobile.

Look at the Odometer

If you’re buying a used snowmobile, make sure the number on the odometer matches the ad or window sticker. Just like with a car, a snowmobile’s mileage can be a good indicator of value, as well as price.

Purchasing a Used SnowmobileGet a Warranty if You Can

If you’re buying a snowmobile through a dealer, there is a very good chance that your new sled will come with some sort of warranty. However, it may be difficult to negotiate for one if you’re buying a sled used directly from the owner. Try bringing it up regardless—a one-season warranty can be great protection, especially in the case of a used sled.

Tips for Buying a New Snowmobile

If you are buying a new snowmobile, you may not have to be as diligent as you would if you were buying used, but there is still plenty to research and know.

Research the Dealer

Buying from a respectable, honest, and good dealer is almost worth as much as the snowmobile. If the dealer treats you right, this will be your go-to source for years to come.

Know the Market

In years that have low snow, you may be able to find new holdover sleds. These are the new sleds that didn’t sell the year before but could be cheaper for you and still come with all the goodies and warranties.

Set a Budget

Just like with a used snowmobile, you still want to set a budget. When you buy from a dealer, you can choose to finance your purchase, which is helpful for those of us who don’t have thousands of dollars in cash laying around. However, if money is an issue, you can also try looking at last year’s models for bargains, because the dealers will be trying to get rid of any old stock they have to make room for new models.

Go During Spring Sales

There are always going to be specials running in the spring for those who want to get a new one before the next season. These specials can include rebates, limited model options, special financing, accessories, and lower pricing. The spring is the best time to look for deals when buying new.

Buy the Extended Warranty

If you’re the kind of person who never wants to have to worry about your sled breaking down, the extra money is worth the peace of mind of an extended warranty. Snowmobile season is usually short, so you don’t want to be stuck without the parts you need to enjoy the experience of a short season.

Tailor Your Sled

Speak with the salesperson about why this one is best for you and ask them to recommend accessories that would be the best fit. There are a lot of options for new sleds with many different accessories, like a snowmobile tunnel bag and snowmobile ice scratchers. If you are going to buy new, then you should be happy with your choice.

Don’t Forget the Snowmobile Accessories

When you’re gearing up to buy your first snowmobile, it can be easy to focus only on the snowmobile and nothing else. In order to take care of your sled properly, you need to have a lot of other things to go with it.

Useful Snowmobile AccessoriesFor example, you are going to have to put your snowmobile in storage for most of the year, so you should get a snowmobile cover to protect it. Snowmobile covers are also handy for protecting your sled while transporting it from place to place. You will also want a set of snowmobile dollies to assist in moving the snowmobile while it’s in storage.

And if you’re going to be transporting the snowmobile, you’ll need a snowmobile loading ramp in order to get it loaded up. Don’t let these sorts of things be afterthoughts when you’re preparing for your new sled. You should have all of these things ahead of time, so you’re prepared when you need to move your snowmobile or get it ready for storage.


A snowmobile can be a big investment, so you want to make sure you put a lot of thought into this decision. From choosing the style of snowmobile that you want to deciding if you want to buy your sled new or used, there are a lot of different choices. We hope that this guide has helped you decide what you want for your new snowmobile.