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arctic catAs cold weather starts to settle in across the country, winter sports start to come back to the forefront of outdoor enthusiasts everywhere. One of the most popular winter activities for lovers of the outdoors is snowmobiling. While it’s not uncommon for those new to snowmobiling to rent or borrow snow machines until they gain some level of comfort with the sport, eventually serious snowmobilers will want to upgrade to a snow machine of their own. Like any other outdoor vehicle, buyers can see a significant savings by purchasing a used snow mobile, but be sure to check the highlighted items below on any snow machine your look at – and consider a professional inspection if at all possible.
Know Your Riding Style
Are you looking for a racing snow machine or simply a workhorse to help you navigate the backwoods around your cabin? Nothing will turn a purchase sour more quickly than buying a vehicle that has a great price but is severely lacking in features or power to support your hobbies.
Know Your Engine
One of the first things any buyer will look at is total mileage. But just as with cars and trucks, it’s not necessarily the total mileage on the snow machine but the TYPE of miles that have been put on. A snow machine that has been poorly maintained with few miles may be in worse condition overall than a well loved motor with hundreds of miles of use. Taking the time to start up the motor with the seller present and checking the compression on the cylinders will also help determine the type of fuel you may need to run.
Check the Track
After the engine the sled track is one of the most important components to inspect. Unless you can get the snow machine up on a lift of some sort you’ll only be able to see a small portion of the track, so finding a lift is a good plan. Look for tears across the track and especially along the edges. While small knicks or scratches on the main portion of the track are just a sign of everyday wear and tear, splits or damage along the edges of the track and quickly lead to structural failures that require an entire track replacement.
Signs of Accidents
Be sure to give the entire machine a thorough once over for any damage related to crashes. Cosmetic dings aren’t anything to worry about, but cracks in the cowling, mismatched alignment of the skis, and cracks or wrinkled-looking areas on the underside of the snow machine are all indicators of problems. You should also check the exhaust piping for any bends or holes.
Regardless of why type of snow machine you’re looking to buy, your best bet to protect against getting stuck with a lemon is to take the time to have the snowmobile professionally inspected. While you can do a good job of inspecting the basics, a mechanic with years of experience repairing and customizing outdoor vehicles will be able to see potential issues that you may not.
For more tips on buying and selling hobby vehicles see our posts on how to sell to a used motorcycle and tips on buying a motorhome or RV.

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