How to Buy a Snowmobile

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So, you’re looking into buying a snowmobile. How exciting! Going snowmobiling is some of the most fun you can have in the wintertime, and it’s even more thrilling when you have your own and don’t have to go off anyone else’s schedule. However, a snowmobile is a pretty significant investment, so you need to know exactly what you’re looking for. Not to worry though, as we’re here to show you exactly how to buy a snowmobile and what to search for!


Before you do anything else, you need to create a budget for yourself. Snowmobiles range widely in price, so it can be all too easy to spend more than you’d originally intended on doing. Not only that, but we all know snowmobiles aren’t exactly cheap machines.

Don’t just take into consideration the price tag of the snowmobile itself, though. You’ll also need to keep some money stashed for trail and riding maps if necessary, helmets, a warm jacket, gloves, boots and other accessories, regular repairs, gas, and any clothing you may need for snowy conditions.

Should You Buy New or Used?

This is probably the most common question that’s asked in relation to the purchasing process of a new snowmobile. While used snowmobiles can save you a lot of cash up front, they may very well end up costing you the same or more as a new snowmobile ultimately.


Well, a used snowmobile is almost always going to require more maintenance than a shiny new one. You simply won’t or can’t know the complete history of a used snowmobile. However, a new one is going to operate smoothly and any high-quality sled is going to come with a warranty if you do by chance run into any issues.

Sure, a used machine may be great for beginner snowmobilers in many cases, but wouldn’t you like to learn on something that you can be sure to be as safe as possible?

Riding Style

If you’ve already had experience riding snowmobiles then you have already formed some type of riding style, whether you’re aware of that or not. So, what is most fun about snowmobiling to you? Do you enjoy simply taking in the fresh air, the smell of the pine trees, and the seemingly endless white peaks all around you? If so, then you aren’t likely going to need a more high-performing machine as you’ll be just using it for cruising and more passive riding.

Perhaps you are just getting a snowmobile to use as an easy form of transportation to your cabin. You can go for a more basic choice. These are either called “entry-level snowmobiles” or “trail models”. They’re easy to ride, are much more affordable, and can even come with an electric start and reverse to maneuver and startup without issue.

Alternatively, if you’re one of those people who others look at and think, “That guy/girl’s crazy riding like that!” then you’ll need a machine that can hold up to your aggressive style of riding. This goes double if you prefer off-roading, tricks, tree riding, and really pushing limits.

The snowmobiles you’ll want to look at are “performance” or “mountain” snowmobiles. The former is heavier than entry-levels and have a higher horsepower engine along with additional shock absorbers and more. The latter are longer and more narrow which are perfect for mountains and heavy powder.


This kind of ties into our last point, relating to both the style of riding you prefer along with the type of environment you’ll be riding on. Flat, relatively straight or gently curving paths don’t demand much from a sled, so you won’t need a special suspension for this.

In contrast, if you like to ride aggressively, on winding trails, tree riding, etc., then you do need a sportier, more heavy-duty suspension that you can adjust if needed. There are some snowmobiles that offer essentially endless adjustability options, which is perfect if you ride in an array of different weather conditions and terrain.


Durability is directly related to the way you ride and the conditions in which you use your snowmobile, but generally speaking, everyone wants a durable machine don’t they? If you’re tighter on cash, then you’ll likely choose a model that may not be the most sturdy or may be a more basic model from a brand with a solid reputation.

We always recommend selecting a brand that has proven itself in performance and safety, as these are the most important metrics and no amount of money can justify lacking on either.

On top of that, you’ll often get the option to purchase an extended warranty on new snowmobiles. Usually it’ll cost you around $500 which may seem like an unnecessary extra at first but trust us that it’s more than worth it. In return you not only get extended coverage but you get the peace of mind knowing that whatever happens you’ll be able to get help and won’t be stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Permits and Licenses

If you live in a snowmobile state then you are almost always going to have to have the proper licenses and registration to legally ride one. You can check this out with your state online or state snowmobile association to get in the know about the specific licensing requirements they demand.


If you do travel a lot with your snowmobile (as opposed to just using it for tricks/fun), consider also throwing in a backpack so you can conveniently and safely hold clothes, snacks, and any other necessities you’ll need to bring along. Are you planning on traveling with another person? Then you can always add on a booster seat to accommodate your partner!


Now that you know all about how to get a snowmobile and what to look out for, do you have a specific model in mind? Remember that you do have choices, so you shouldn’t feel like you’re ever settling. Oh, and if you want to save some cash on a new model, try looking into spring sales from a reputable dealer!

We hope that our guide has been able to help you find just the snowmobile for you and your preferences. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you again shortly!

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Richard Remick

Richard is the founder and the chief editor of Outside Pursuits. Passionate about the great outdoors, Richard spends much of his time in Colorado enjoying skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, cycling, hiking, and camping. When at home in Florida, he is most often found in the water. He loves water sports such as paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving. He is a certified scuba diver. Because of his wealth of knowledge and experience, Richard has been invited to contribute articles to many outdoor-focused websites, such as Florida Rambler, and has been profiled on travel websites such as JohnnyJet.

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