Buying Your First Snowmobile

If your buddies are tired of you borrowing their sled, it’s time to buy your own. There’s a lot to consider before you plunk down your hard earned cash and ride off into the forest. Take a look at this quick guide before your first ride.

Before you Buy

artic cat snowmobileBuying a snowmobile is like buying a car, or any big purchase. The first step is to narrow down the choices. Are you looking for a snow blasting hot rod, or a utility sled that can do work? If this is your first time out, take a look at the entry-level rides. They’re light and friendly, so you shouldn’t get into too much trouble. Generally speaking, stick with something below 75hp if this is your first sled.

Once you have decided on a type of snowmobile, further refine your search by brand. An Arctic Cat and a same spec Polaris will ride differently, and have different features and options. Take a test ride if you can, and ride as many as you can before making up your mind.

Last, remember that there is a used market. Like cars, smart phones, and laptops, snowmobiles depreciate due to age and wear. If you are on a budget, check out an older model that has been well maintained. Check a site like Kelly Blue Book to get an idea on used prices.

On Your First Ride

Some states require a license, and/or a snowmobile rider’s safety course. Be sure you have the required knowledge (and proof of it) before setting off.

Also, have the necessary protective equipment. Expect to pay about $450 for an entire outfit, but realize it’s very easy to upgrade and pay more.

Finally, while this may be a little obvious to some, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the new sled. Put the steering through its entire range of motion and watch the skis to get an idea of how it turns. Familiarize yourself with the throttle, clutch, and brakes.


Consider joining a snowmobile forum or a local club. There is always something new to learn, and these can be sources of extensive knowledge for any question you could possibly ask.

Check YouTube for maintenance tips and reviews of modifications. Keep in mind that a well maintained stock ride is usually more comfortable and predictable than even an expensively modified sled.

Like any machine, a snowmobile needs maintenance. You will need fogging oil, carb cleaner, spark plugs, air filters, and so on. Maintenance should run a couple hundred dollars per year, but can easily run into the thousands if you get meticulous or ride a lot. Keep a log and receipts, so you know what you’ve done, and for the eventual resale when it’s time for your upgrade ride.

What other tips would your recommend for newbies?

One Response

  1. Spencer Montgomery says:

    Informative article. My boyfriend has been thinking of buying a snowmobile. I’m sure he’ll benefit in reading this. I like your tip about further refining the search by brand. I’ll certainly share this with him.

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