TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF
USAGE -- IMPORTANT INFORMATION
The information contained in this
document is provided at no cost and without any warranty
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.
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
... 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,
...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
Resist the temptation to buy the first sled you see. Look
at a few of them to get a better idea of the used sled market/options before
you buy one.
Bring a friend to help you stick to your guns, or to help
you load your new sleds onto a truck, or help you to inspect the track.
Sled-savvy friends may also notice things that you forgot to check. Make sure
they also read this guide ahead of time.
Bring a flashlight to aid inspection. Even in
Request that the owner not have the sled warmed up
when you get there, but tell him/her to make sure that the sled will start. If
the owner asks why, tell them that you want to test the sled's ability to
start when cold. (It's a lot easier for engines to start when
You don't need to follow these instructions in any
particular order, but I do recommend reading through them before you
get to the seller's house. If you're new to snomobiling, you may find some of
the terminology complicated. Try studying some of the INSPECTION
PICTURES listed below. And as noted previously, try to bring a
friend, particularly one who knows sleds.
Bring riding gear in case the seller will let you test ride the
sled. (If you're new to snowmobiling and don't have any gear yet, perhaps the
sleddin' friend accompanying you will be kind enough to bring his/her gear,
and do a test ride for you.)
You'll have to go through and carefully
inspect used sleds being sold by dealerships, too, since many dealerships take
used sleds as trade-ins, make minimal (if any) repairs, and mark the sleds up over
"blue book" value. It's up to you to find defects (and to know what the used
sled's real value is!!) to get these guys back down to earth.
As a general rule of thumb, when work needs to be done to
repair a problem with the sled, most dealerships charge around $50/hour for
If you aren't really experienced with sleds, do some
practice inspections! Find a couple of friends with sleds and pretend
that you're at a seller's house inspecting a used sled. Go over a couple of
sleds in minute detail. You'll learn a lot about how sleds are put together,
and you might even find some things that your friends missed. Take notes while
you're doing the inspections, and go over your findings with your friends
after each inspection.
Does the sled look nasty? Cracks and scratches all over
the thing? Appearance can be deceiving, but it should give you some indication
of the general condition beyond what you can see.
look stripped or gouged? Is everything kinda loose and ill-fitting? You don't
need to be a mechanic to tell when the person has mangled something on the
sled. The sled should also be phsically and cosmetically symmetrical.
Step back and look down the centerline of the sled. If something looks
obviously wrong ( the windscreen is tilted, etc.), the sled has probably been
Basically, try to answer the question: "How does the
overall cosmetic appearance of this sled affect how much I want to pay for
Look for: deep scratches on the running boards and on
plastic, a different/non-standard paint job (the owner might have repainted it
to hide damage); cracks in plastic bodywork obscured by stickers.
Sometimes handlebabrs will be bent in a crash
and replaced with a slightly different style, or it'll be hammered back
into shape so it doesn't look obviously bent. (In the latter case, look for
thin cracks in the plating or powdercoats of the bars... it'll look something
like a spider web of hairline cracks.) .
Sometimes a crash will twist the skis. Sit on the sled
with the bars pointed straight, sight along the skis and see if they're at all
twisted, bent, toed-in, or toed out. If you get a chance to test ride the
sled, get the sled going straight, and take a quick look down at the bars to
make sure they're pointed straight -- if they aren't, the front has probably
been twisted in a crash.
Scratches and shallow chips tend to indicate a tip-over
rather than a crash at speed. (Crashes, of course, tend to do more damage --
tip-overs rarely do more than minor cosmetic damage.)
Crashes can cause bodywork problems for two reasons.
Besides scratching and cracking the bodywork, crashes can bend the bodywork's
mounting brackets and break mounting tabs. Check to make sure that bodywork
pieces that fit together do so easily and have an even seam where pieces come
together. And check to make sure that the bodywork isn't loose because
mounting tabs were broken off.
Racing puts tremendous stress on machinery. You may or
may not want to buy a sled that's been raced (the price ought to be lower than
it would be otherwise). Having said that, sometimes, racing sleds are
some of the best maintained sleds out there.You should definitely try to find
out if it has or hasn't been raced, so you can adjust the price accordingly if
Look for holes drilled through the heads of bolts, which
racers use to safety-wire bolts in place. Check: brake caliper mounting bolts,
exhaust pipe bolts, engine case bolts, water drain bolts, etc. The holes will
be small, about 1/16", and should not be confused with the 1/8"-3/16" holes
and castellated nuts that are often used with cotter pins.
Check the frame for cracks, usually along welds or in key
stress areas. Check around the engine mounts, and, if possible, welds in
the front cowling brackets and rear frame area.
Pay attantion to riveted areas of the chassis. Look
closely around the rivets for dark marks indicating that the joint is becoming
loose and the rivet or parts are moving.
Support the rear of the sled and, gently apply the
brakes*. They should engage smoothly and prevent you from moving the track .
(Though you may hear a click as the brake-light switch engages.) Now release
the brake lever and verify that the track may be turned... Are the brakes off,
or are they dragging? (They should be off.) If not, the brake calipers need
adjustment or work.
*=If you squeeze the brake lever and it comes all
the way back to the bar without much resistance, something's very wrong. Check
to make sure that there's adequate pad thickness, and make sure you get a
professional mechanic to inspect the brakes before you try riding the sled. At
the very least, the system needs to be bled. About $5 of brake fluid and half
an hour of labor.
Check remaining brake pad material. There should be at
least 1/8" of brake pad material on each brake pad. For sleds with disc
brakes, get in front of the sled and look into the calipers, on either side of
the rotor(s). A flashlight might help here, even in daylight. The pads are the
raised parts that directly contact the brake disc.
Disc brakes continued: rotors should be a certain minimum
thickness and shouldn't vary more than a certain amount when spun. This kind
of information will be in the service manual. Even if you don't have the tools
for those measurements, you can inspect the rotors for cracks, deep wear
grooves and other damage.
Brake fluid should be a very light amber. Darker than
honey means it's time to replace the brake fluid. Not expensive, but possibly
an indication that the owner hasn't followed the maintenance schedule. (Or
maybe the sled has just sat for a long time.)
Inspect the brake hoses for nicks, cuts, dry-rot, and
New brake pads are around $25-30 per pair. Brake
rotors are usually around $150-250 each. OEM brake lines can be
expensive, but if you have to replace them, a very good alternative is braided
stainless-steel lines, which cost a lot less and offer better brake feel and
Most modern sleds today have plastic fuel tanks, but is
you are looking at an older sled with a metal tank, look for dents, rust
and/or loose sediment. Rust/sediment is bad -- it clogs carburators. Sleds
with rusty tanks need to have the rust removed... drop the price $150 or so.
You should open the tank up and see gas and either plastic, or bare metal. If
you see a milky paint-like coating on the inside of a metal tank, the
tank has probably been etched and coated. Make sure it runs -- sometimes this
recoating can clog the fuel's path out of the tank.
Knock on the side of the tank to see if it's metal
or plastic. It should be fairly easy to tell whether or not you're looking at
metal or plastic. Evaluate the tank's condition accordingly.
Ask the owner about Sta-bil or other fuel
stabilizers....these are a must to keep a full tank of fuel from deteriorating
and ruining the fuel system.
Dark (coffee or tea-colored) gas in a oil injected
sled indicates that it's been sitting around for a long time. Not a good
sign. Get it changed immediately, and anticipate needing a thorough
fuel-system cleaning. (Around $5 of parts plus 2-3 hours of labor.)
Obviously, sleds that use pre-mix fuel can have a wide
variety of colors. Again, ask about Sta-bil.
Check to make sure the headlights (high/low) work. (On
some sleds, the headlight won't come on until the engine does, so you may need
to start the engine to test this.) Make sure the starter works if so
equipped. Make sure the brake lever lights up the brake light. Make sure the
Basically, check all the switches as well as the
signalling and instrument-cluster lights. (Bulbs are pretty cheap to
If the sled has one*, you should also test to make sure
that the tether kill switch stops the engine when it's running.
Make sure the kill switch on the handgrip stops the
engine when it's running.
Batteries are very hard to test without the appropriate
tools, and even then they're kind of mysterious and unpredictable. For our
purposes, if the battery starts the sled, it's good. If it doesn't, $50 to
replace. As noted below (in ENGINE/FLUIDS/CARBURATORS),
warm sleds start much easier, so take that into account when making a
subjective evaluation of the cranking sound.
If the sled doesn't have an electric starter (i.e., it's
a pull-start), there's no good way to test the battery without examining the
lead plates for white sulfide deposits (bad) and checking the specific gravity
of the acid with a battery hydrometer. Most auto parts places should carry
those; just make sure you get one with a long, thin tube, since most
automotive battery hydrometers are too large to fit into snowmobile batteries.
On the other hand, if your sled is a pull-start, it doesn't depend on the
battery too much, and checking it is less important.
Ask the owner how long it's been since the front suspension
has been serviced, (miles and/or years.) it should probably be greased
every year. Rod ends and pivot joints wear very fast without adequate lubrication.
Replacing them is not necessarily a complicated fix, but it is if
you don't have the right tools, and most people don't. Straddle the
sled, and push down vigorously on the front end. It should go down and come
back up with some resistance. Do this a few times. Inspect the shocks. They
should clean and free of oil. If, after bouncing the front end,
you see little rings of dirt on the shock rods, that's probably fine, but wipe
them off with a rag and bounce the front suspension a couple more times. Not
good if you see oil left on the shock rod after you do this.
Check the steering bearings and tie-rod ends. There
should be minimal play and smooth operation.(If the owner doesn't have a
workstand, you might be able to use a jack or a block to raise the sled off
the ground, but be careful not to damage a sled that you don't own.)
The suspension should move up and down almost silently if
you bounce it up and down. Clunking or squeaking noises are bad. Binding is
very bad and indicated bent shocks or worse.
Push down on the sled's grab rail (or passenger seat),
hard. The sled should spring back up, but with a little resistance. If
you don't feel any resistance at all (like you're just pushing down on a
spring), it's time to replace the rear shocks. (Reasons: either a seal has
failed inside the shock, or the oil has broken down so much that it doesn't
provide useful resistance.)
Certain premium aftermarket suspension units (Ohlins,
Fox) offer substantially increased suspension performance and are fully
rebuildable. Expect to pay a little more for this equipment. Aftermarket
shocks often have remote reservoirs (typically a cylinder attached to the
frame and connected via a hose), though since many late-model high-performance
sleds come from the factory with remote-reservoir shocks, it pays to do a
little research to find out whether the sled you're looking at came with one
stock, or had some money put into upgrading its suspension.
Rear suspension sliders are a "wear item". If the sliders
are worn unevenly, they may need replacing, or this may indicate that
something is out of adjustment. Proceed with caution.
Look carefully at both sides of both skis for bends. Look
at the underside of the skis for wear indicating that the previous owner
didn't change worn skegs in time. Check the condition of the skegs and if so
equipped, the carbide inserts on the skegs.
The rule of thumb is that if you have carbide in your
skis, then you should have spikes or cleats in your track, so ask why if
you only see one.
Metal skis can develop cracks after a while. Pay
attention to the area where the ski mounts to the suspension.
Many late model sleds have plastic skis that wear very
well except on pavement and rock.
If the sled has more than one exhaust chamber, start the
engine and, holding your hand a few inches back from the exhaust tip, feel to
see if the pressure coming from each cannister is roughly equal. It should be.
(If it isn't, one of the cylinders probably isn't firing.)
If the sled has aftermarket expansion chambers, ask the
owner if the carbs were rejetted to compensate for the new exhaust.
We want to see how this sled starts in cold weather so if
the engine is warm, let it cool and check back later. Electric start makes
starting even tempermental sleds easy but if the sled you're looking at is a
pull-start, make sure you can start the engine when it's cold.
The engine should start easily (with some choke*, if
it's cold) and sound reasonably good. If you hear obviously bad sounds like
rapping, clacking, or uneven exhaust note, you might be looking at en engine that
needs some work. The engine should rev smoothly off idle. Don't redline it
when cold. After it's fully warmed up, open the throttle and see what happens.
Hesitation & stumbling = carburation problems.* A test ride will
help you gauge whether or not these will be easy to live with.
*=These comments refer to carburated sleds. Some more
modern sleds are fuel-injected: instead of carburators, the sled is equipped
with throttle bodies and fuel injectors. Fuel-injected sleds sometimes have a
"fast idle" lever instead of a choke lever, but some detect the need for an
enriched (choked) mixture by computer, and automatically adjust the
fuel-injection accordingly. You should not experience any "carburation"
problems with a fuel-injected sled, and if you do, they may be harder to
correct than on a sled equipped with carburators.
Some sleds use a fuel pump which may need to build
pressure before the sled will start. If you flip the ignition switch to "on"
and hear a whirring sound from the gas tank, wait for it to finish before
thumbing the start button.
If the throttle opens with a lot of resistance (and then
won't snap closed), there are a couple of possibilities, none of which is
really good news:
The carbs may be fouled with gas and varnish. If
the sled won't start, that definitely points to this possibility (rather
than either of the next two.) A good carb cleaning will either cost around
$200 of shop labor or $5 + 1-3 hours of your time, depending on whether you
have a shop do the work or you do the work yourself. (Warning: not
for the inexperienced or mechanically challenged -- there are lots of small
and easily-confused parts.)
The throttle cables may partially seized, or simply
routed improperly. This may mean that the carbs are fine. It's very hard
to check while you're visiting a prospective acquisition, but try
straightening cables or untwisting them and see if the behavior changes
Liquid cooled sleds either have radiators up in the
engine bay, or a heat exchanger above the track in the tunnel. Inspect these
very close as they can be expensive to repair or replace.
Check coolant level. Find the radiator overflow bottle,
and see if the coolant is between the "high" and "low" lines on the bottle. If
you can't find the coolant overflow bottle, trace the thin coolant tube back
from the radiator cap assembly -- it almost always goes to the coolant
The coolant itself should be a neon green, not brown or
even a murky green-brown. You'll need to remove the radiator cap to check the
coolant color, something you never want to do when the engine is
still hot. If the radiator cap is hot (be careful!), do not open it
-- come back to this step later, when the engine's had time to cool down. If
you can safely open it:
Bright green coolant is good.
Brown-colored coolant probably has rust in it (bad!) .
This indicates that the insides of the engine have started rusting. I'd have
a professional mechanic look at the sled so you know how bad the problem is.
And/or consider giving up and looking at other sleds.
Finally, no coolant in the radiator is extremely
And of coarse, fluids leaking from the engine are a bad
thing. Probably just new gaskets, but possibly worse. If you don't feel
qualified to decide, I'd recommend having a mechanic give you his/her opinion,
or simply giving up on the leaker.
Engine compression: engines are basically air pumps, and
must seal tightly to work well. Engines that don't seal well will be hard to
start, will burn lean , and will have reduced power. Old engines will tend to
exhibit this more than low-mileage ones, but newer engines that have been
abused may also have low compression numbers. Unless you know what you're
doing, have a shop do a compression test on the sled.
Ask the owner if the sled has been serviced according the
manufacturer's specifications, and, if so, ask for service receipts as
If you feel uncertain about the sled's condition, it's
not unreasonable to request that the seller take the sled to a mechanic of
your choosing for inspection -- at your expense. It's also not unreasonable to
expect that the seller might to try to sell to someone who won't make him go
through the added hassle of doing this.
If the owner has lost the owner's manual and/or tool kit,
drop a little money off the price of the sled. They're usually around $15-20
each to replace, and they're definitely nice things to have, particularly if
you're new to riding.
Similarly, even if you don't plan to do work on the sled
yourself, it's nice to have a service (or "shop") manual, and I'd recommend
picking one up even if the owner isn't selling one with the sled. You can
learn a lot about your sled this way. Factory service manuals are usually the
Often times the owner will have added accessories to the
sled and will use them to justify an inflated price at sale time. (This
includes helmets, but see below for
those.) Exhaust pipes are another common example. The important issue is,
would you pay extra for the accessories? If you don't really care about
the accessories, and they have no value to you, and you shouldn't pay more for
them. If you want them (if you value them), only then are they worth paying
more for. Note that "more" doesn't mean "more than the seller is asking", but
"more than a stock sled without these accessories." If the seller isn't
willing to deal, find a sled that doesn't have said accessories, and you won't
have to pay more for stuff you don't want.
Some accessories are very nice to have, but you need to
make that decision for yourself. Here are some examples:
Exhaust: Aftermarket exhausts are generally
lighter and louder and make more power than stock. Depending on condition
(and whether the jetting is right -- see the section on
carburation, above) full systems are probably worth $100-300.
Suspension components are a frequent upgrade.
Units from Ohlins, Fox (and others) typically perform better than stock
equipment, giving the sled better handling and comfort. Expect the seller to
want a little more for such units. Typically $200-400 more.
Modifications: generally, you'll want to stay away from
heavily-modified sleds. Even when done by a competent professional,
high-compression pistons, overbores, porting, etc. all lead to reduced engine
reliability in the name of increased performance, and that's something you
don't need when you're 15 miles out in the wilderness. Make sure you ask the
seller what modifications were made to the sled.
Most privately sold used sleds are sold "OBO" ... or best
offer. Offer a little less than how you value the sled (see above), and see if
you can come to an agreement somewhere close to where you value the sled. Be
flexible, But don't be afraid to walk away and look at other sleds. The
longer a sled has been for sale, the more flexible the owner is likely to be
Sled prices follow the laws of supply and demand like any
other goods... in the summer, when no one can ride and everyone needs to pay
for vacations, sleds are cheaper. In the fall, when the smell of winter is in
the air, sleds are more expensive.
You may have your own preferred method for arriving at a
number to offer for the sled, but here's a reasonable approach: take the "blue
book" value of the sled , and deduct the cost of repairs for each problem with
the sled. The used sled buying guides assume a clean, completely functional
vehicle, with appropriate wear and tear for its age. So it makes sense to
deduct the cost of repairs to bring a used sled up to that standard. If the
owner is asking less, great, if the owner is asking more, see if you can work
them down a bit. If need be, explain how you arrived at your number --
sometimes the owner won't know about problems you've found!
As noted previously, beware used sled prices at
dealerships, and prepare for sticker shock. They know that there are
plenty of uninformed buyers out there who just want a sled and don't know what
an appropriate price is. (Shop around and figure out what the going price is!)
The potential plusses that you get from buying from a dealership are that: 1)
at least in theory, the sled has been tuned up prior to sale; 2) dealerships
are typically more willing to fix any problems that you discover with the
thing (inspect sleds thoroughly!); 3) if you're a new rider, you'll probably
need to buy gear, and you can usually get a break on the price of gear if you
also buy a sled from a dealership; and 4) Buying a sled from a dealership is a
good way to start a long-term relationship with a them -- just make sure that
if you decide to go this route, that you buy the sled from a good and
reputable dealership with whom you'll want to have a long-term
And now, the potential downsides: 1) some dealerships may
not do work on the sled between buying it and reselling it (yet another
reason for a close and thorough inspection); and 2) many times used sleds come
only with an "as is" (or extremely limited) warranty -- no better than what
you'd get from a private sale. The bottom line is that there may be benefits
to buying a used sled from a good dealership, but some dealerships won't be
any better than a private buyer.
Used helmets are worthless. Regardless of
whether it fits you or not, do not count the price of a used helmet as part
of the value of the sled. The owner may want to sell the helmet, either
because it matches the sled or because (s)he is quitting snomobiling, but
since you'll be throwing the helmet out, don't count its value towards
the sale price of the sled.
Used helmets are worthless because you cannot tell if
they are damaged or not, and (in many cases) you don't know when they were
made. Even if they look good, used helmets might well be junk. All
helmets work by allowing a layer of expanded polystyrene (EPS) to crush,
absorbing much of the force of an impact. Unless the hard outer shell is
damaged, you cannot tell if the EPS inside is compressed or not. And even
then, sometimes you can't -- covering damage with stickers is just as common
with helmets as it is with plastic fairings.
The bottom line is, despite what the owner says, you
do not know what condition the EPS liner is in, and the EPS liner is the
vast majority of the helmet's crash protection.
It's not worth the risk. Yes, in some cases, you
can send the helmet back to the manufacturer to have it X-rayed. But
that will only tell you if the EPS liner has been compressed, not if it has
been chemically damaged. Since you'll never know for sure, buy yourself a good
quality new helmet from a good quality manufacturer, and stay away
from used helmets.
You can learn a lot about a sled from a quick test ride,
things you'd never notice by even the most thorough inspection. Sometimes
sellers that won't give you a test ride will let you ride the sled once you've
purchased it, with a money-back guarantee if you don't like it.
It's a good idea to do the test ride last, after you've
had a chance to go over the whole sled, since you won't want to ride a sled
with safety problems. Don't ride the sled until you're satisfied that it's
safe to ride, pay very close attention to the brakes, for a stuck throttle
with no brakes spells trouble.
You're going to be riding an unfamiliar sled, so take it
easy. This guide cannot possibly warn you about all the dangers that you
might face riding someone else's snowmobile. Just be careful, and don't test
ride a sled if you aren't comfortable with its mechanical condition or
behavior. Test rides are done at your own risk.
What you're looking for on a test ride:
Engine/Clutch/Brake Operation: see how it revs,
how the torque converter feels , how well the brakes work, etc.
Strangeness... strange noises or thumping,
having to hold the bars a little bit to one side to get the sled to go
straight (a sign of crash damage!), etc.
Do you want it? It can take a while to get
comfortable with a sled. Nevertheless, to the extent possible in the short
time that you're getting to ride this machine, try to answer some very
important questions: "Is this the sled that I want to buy?" "Do I feel
comfortable with this sled?"
Another thing you can test is transmission operation if
Some late model sleds have a reversing gearbox that
enables you to back up the sled short distances with the flip of a
lever....Go ahead, give it a try.
Go to a dealership and sit on a lot of sleds to feel what
sort of riding position you like. Think about the kinds of sleds that are
available...trail, performance, touring, mountain, etc, what you're
interested in, and what you're willing to pay.
Generally speaking, it's good to start out with a
smaller, lighter-weight used sled rather than buying the latest,
coolest, fastest, sexiest sled new. Snowmobiling is a passion you can
pursue for many, many years -- don't scare yourself silly with a sled that's
not meant for beginners. New riders should probably start with a two-cylinder
sled of less than 500cc's.
Find a good dealership and form a relationship with them.
Talk to other sledders or folks on the 'net and get recommendations. Unless
you've been doing this this for a long time and have a lot of money to spend
on very specialized tools, you will almost certainly want to have a local shop
that you can turn to when the sled isn't running right. It's true that you
will pay a little more for stuff at a dealership, but in return, you're sure
to get the right stuff, and you foster good relations with the shop -- you'll
have somewhere to go when you need help. Sled shops are run by people and
generally act like people -- the nicer you are to them, the nicer they'll be
to you. Just find one that you like, one that's honest and fair, and treat
them the same in return. Don't support dealerships that are dishonest.
Get (and wear) good gear! Don't spend all your
money on a sled and only have enough money left to buy the minimum
Take safety seriously. There are many ways to get into
trouble out on the trails. Just because your buddies do it doesn't mean you
should. Take special care around frozen water, steep icy hills, blind corners,
Is everything clean, straight, and square....first
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
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
Here's a mechanical /cable operated brake system. Go ahead and
inspect the cable as well as the operation of the
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
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,
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
International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) site provides the
latest news, safety information and stories on nowmobiling to consumers, media
and public officials.