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Used Snowmobile Evaluation Guide
last updated 10-07-02

 We think our users will be best served by reading this information before they buy their next used sled. Please abide by the copyright information & terms and conditions of usage.

Copyright 1998-2002 Steve Scott & Michael Rondeau. All rights reserved. Distribution or publication of this document (electronic or otherwise) is prohibited without the express written consent of the authors. For more information or to request permission to publish this document, please contact the author at mrondeau@mmcc.net 
  

TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF USAGE -- IMPORTANT INFORMATION
The information contained in this document is provided at no cost and without any warranty whatsoever.
The author and contributors are not responsible for any errors contained herein, and make no claims whatsoever as to the legality, safety, validity, or veracity of the information and advice contained in this document. Indeed, many of the techniques described herein are extremely dangerous and should not be performed except by factory-trained mechanics. The information contained in this document is provided for entertainment purposes only, and is not in any way a guarantee that the snowmobile you buy will be functional, safe or usable, or that you (or others) will not be seriously injured or killed by attempting to follow said information. All riders should have a factory-trained, professional mechanic inspect any snowmobile before purchasing or riding it. Any use of the information contained in this document is done solely at your own risk. Reading beyond this point constitutes an implicit acceptance of these terms and conditions.



Forward:

Nearly everywhere in the world, A snowmobile, is a machine that gets used anywhere from 2-5 months out of the year. The rest of the year it's stored away, waiting for winter. How it is stored makes a big difference on the expected life span of the machine. Indoors in a controlled climate is the ideal scenario as there is minimal temperature change and thus, less chance of condensation. Stored in a closed trailer is better than out under the old oak tree, but not by much since temperatures can swing much higher in a closed trailer with no ventilation. Condensation is the enemy since it will rust steel and corode and pit aluminum. It's also bad for paint and plastics. Many sledders will take a jumbo can of WD40 and soak the sled down with it in the spring before storing it away...all the aluminum, the engine (inside and outside), the clutch, the suspension, the drivetrain, etc. Sure it makes a mess, but it's easier to clean a little oil off things than a bunch of rust and corrosion.

There's a lot of opinions on what's the best way to preserve your fuel system...empty? or full?

Empty ... and there's no chance for fuel to deteriorate and turn to varnish, or premixed oil to seperate , thereby fouling those precious carbs, or worse, injectors.

Full ...and there's no chance of any condensation forming in the fuel system because it's full of fuel. just make sure you put a fuel stabilizer in there or you'll end up with 5 gallons of worthless chemicals next winter. A word of caution to premix sleds, all oils will seperate out of gasoline given enough time and cold temperature. Try to keep your fuel agitated before starting your engine.

...vacuum packed.....now there's an idea!



A preview of things to come: 



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FIRST THINGS FIRST 
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OVERALL APPEARANCE 

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HAS IT BEEN CRASHED? 

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HAS IT BEEN RACED? 

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SLED-SPECIFIC 


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BRAKES 

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TORQUE CONVERTER 

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GAS TANK

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SEAT 

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TRACK 

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ELECTRICAL & BATTERY 

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SUSPENSION 

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SKIS 

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CHAIN/ SPROCKETS/ GEARS 
 

Fortunately, the drive chain for a sled has a pretty good life...sealed in a housing with either grease or oil, it has the easiest job of the entire machine as long as there's adequate lubrication.
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EXHAUST 

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ENGINE/FLUIDS/CARBURATORS 

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SERVICE

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ACCESSORIES, PRICE, and DEALING 

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HELMETS 

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TEST RIDE

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INFO FOR NEW RIDERS

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AFTER THE PURCHASE

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INSPECTION PICTURES
 
 


Is everything clean, straight, and square....first impressions....

Same here, clean, straight and square. Don't be afraid to raise the front end and check for excessive play in these areas.

This is the steering pivot under the hood, wiggle the bars while watching here. Also check for adequate lubrication.

Another front suspension shot. Inspect all the pivot points and the shocks.

There's a lot to look at here so take your time. Inspect pivots, bearings, shocks, sliders, track, clips, spikes, etc.

This is just one style of heat exchanger found on liquid cooled sleds. this style is mounted in the tunnel. They're all vulnerable to damage when mounted down low.

Does the sled have hydraulic brakes? Check for proper operation and fluid condition. There's the sealed chain case in front; check lube.

Here's a mechanical /cable operated brake system. Go ahead and inspect the cable as well as the operation of the system.

 

Along with big power comes a big engine with many more things to look at. Inspect closely for leaking fluids, missing things like exhaust springs, hose clamps,bolts, nuts, etc.

By contrast, the fan cooled twin's engine bay is empty!..don't get careless though. Take your time and ask plenty of questions.

 

The battery should be generally, clean and healthy looking, with a minimal amount of corrosion. You can usually see the fluid level through the side of the battery....if not, remove the caps for inspection. 
<caution: acid>

One of the hardest items to inspect, they're always nestled way back there out of sight. The carb/s shouldn't be all filthy...if they are, they're probably leaking. All fuel lines should have hose clamps or zip-ties on them.

Obviously, the clutch is best evaluated during a test drive, but you can have a look for missing nuts/bolts, belt condition, etc. 

Here's a shot of a set of power valves on this triple. Power valves help to broaden the power band on two stroke engines. They're often controlled by cables from a computer with electric servo motors. The best way to check operation is to watch the servo motors when the engine is running.

 

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RECOMMENDED READING AND LINKS

Manufacturer's Links

Arctic Cat Snowmobiles

Polaris Snowmobiles

Redline Snowmobiles

Ski-doo Snowmobiles

Yamaha Snowmobiles
 

Other Industry Links

http://www.amsnow.com/
American Snowmobiler Online.

http://www.getasnowmobile.com/
Lists Available Sleds for sale from dealers in New England.

http://www.ishof.com/
The site of the International Snowmobile
Hall of Fame.

http://www.snowmobile.org/
The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) site provides the latest news, safety information and stories on nowmobiling to consumers, media and public officials.

http://www.sledcity.com/  or http://www.snowtracks.com/
These online communities feature trail conditions, online maps, trip planning advice and more.

snow.yahoo.com
Yahoo's Ski and Snow Report also includes links to more snowmobiling and snowboarding sites.

maximumsled.com
The number one online snowmobile magazine for 2002 sled news, products and reviews .

http://www.vsca.com/
The Vintage Snowmobile Club of America offers the latest on the antique and vintage snowmobile market. 
 

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Good luck, and "keep the shiny side up!"