If the pristine, powdered landscape has you aching to throw some snow into the air, it just might be time to pony up some change for a sled. If you’re eyeing a used snowmobile, E3 Spark Plugs has 10 top tips for choosing a sled that’ll keep you riding the slopes for years.
- Resist the temptation to buy the first shiny sled you see. Study up on the models and features you want before you venture out on your shopping spree and be sure to bring a flashlight and a friend so you can see all the dark crannies and get a second, and likely more objective opinion.
- Start ‘er up. If you’re considering a sled being sold by a private owner, ask that it not be “warmed up” prior to your visit. You’ll want to know how well the engine does with a cold start.
- Check for clues that the snowmobile has been crashed. A few tell-tale signs are deep scratches on the running boards and plastic; a non-standard paint job; cracks in the body work (remove or run your fingers over any stickers, as they’re often used to hide cracks; twisted, bent, toed-in or toed-out skis; handlebars that are cracked, bent or appear to have been replaced.
- Check for clues it’s been raced. Racing or aggressive riding put some real stress on machinery, but then again, racing sleds often are the best maintained you’ll find. Look for holes drilled through the bolt heads; cracks or welds in the frame, around the engine mounts and in the front cowling brackets. If the sled has been raced, ask for maintenance records and make sure it’s priced accordingly.
- Look for tears or cracks in the vinyl seat cover. Cracked or torn seat covers retain water and the resulting cold, wet spot on your butt will make for quite the uncomfortable ride. If you love the rest of the sled, know that new upholstery will cost you upwards of $150.
- Inspect the track. Look for cracking, dry-rot and excessive rust – all of which can leave you and your snowmobile stranded. Not fun. Especially if you also have a wet butt.
- Check the brakes, brake pads and brake fluid.
- Peek inside the gas tank. If it’s discolored or has rust, sediment or a milky white paint-like coating, expect to pay for a thorough fuel system cleaning.
- Make sure all the electric features work. These include the headlights, signaling and instrument-cluster lights and kill switches.
- Ask how often the suspension was serviced. The answer should be at least once a year.
When you get your new sled home, be sure to outfit it with a new set of E3 snowmobile spark plugs for a cleaner, stronger burn. Be safe and keep the shiny side up.