Buying a Used Sled
As the evenings already begin to get shorter, one thing is for sure; the snowmobiling season is almost here.
If you are looking to get into sledding this year for the first time or are just looking for an upgrade to a newer machine there are a few tips that you can follow that might save you a lot of headaches down the road. One of the most important things to remember is you get what you pay for! Now I am not pretending to be a sled mechanic because that I am not, but I have picked up a few tips along the way when it comes to buying a used sled. The following is a list of tips for purchasing a used/second sled:
What sled do you really need? Your ability, where you are going to do most of your riding, and also your budget are important in determining the sled you actually need to buy. It is important to have a budget number in mind and also don’t forget to factor in the gas, oil and spare parts you might need to buy for the sled. Are you going to be riding in the mountains, on groomed trails, hauling wood, riding around with the family, or beating around in the ditches? The answer to this question will help to determine which segment of sleds you should be looking at.
Overall appearance – As my mother used to say “beauty is only skin deep,” does not always apply when you are purchasing a used sled. If you show up to purchase a used sled and it is all cleaned up, in a heated garage, with the track off the ground you can assume with a fairly high percentage that the machine was well cared for. If the sled looks like it has been driven hard then chances are it probably has been.
Test ride – If possible and the conditions allow for it ask if you can take the machine for a test ride. This will help in determining if the sled functions properly on the trail. Also it will help you determine if the sled is the right one for the type of riding you are going to do. Someone who might be looking for a nice sled to ride on groomed trails with usually is not going to be happy riding those trails on a mountain sled. If you are unable to arrange a test ride then see if you can raise the machine in the garage and start it up and run the track around a few times to see if everything is functioning properly.
Friends – Ask your friends or fellow riders what they ride, where they ride, and why they ride their particular sled. Fellow snowmobilers are great resources for answering questions on a sled, especially if they have owned the actual sled you are looking to purchase. You can also head to your local dealer and ask them any questions you may have and some of them even carry used sleds so be sure to check out their inventories.
Mechanical – Even though I am not a mechanic there are a few things you can check over on a sled in a few minutes to see what kind of condition the sled is in mechanically. Always tip the sled on its side and inspect the rear suspension and chassis. Look for corrosion on the shock shafts, or any bent components and cracks in the tunnel. Always have a look at the track for torn or missing lugs. A few missing lugs aren’t usually a big deal but if the track windows or the structure is exposed, the track will need replacing and that can be expensive. Look for rebuildable shocks as they can usually be rebuilt every couple of years which is usually cheaper than buying new shocks. Push down on the front of the sled, it should take some force to push down on it, and it should attempt to recoil as well. Look at the a-arms for any bends or breaks as well. Check the skis to make sure they are not worn down and also look at the condition of the carbide runners as well. If you can inspect the chaincase oil for the condition and ensure that it is filled to the proper level. Have a look at the clutches as they can be expensive if something is wrong with them. The sheaves on the clutch should be clean and smooth and the belt can easily be viewed at this time for wear. Perform a compression test, which will let you know if the engine is in good running order.
Ask questions – some questions to ask would be how much do you ride? Check the odometer to determine if the answer you were given compares to the mileage on the sled. Where do you ride? Should indicate whether the machine was ridden on good snow conditions or rugged, low snow conditions that increase wear on a sled. Where do you store your sled? Outside storage can cause premature wear on exposed parts as well as fading to the panels on the sled. How was the sled transported?? Road salt can really take a toll on a sled, so enclosed trailers are the best. Finally why is the sled for sale?? Make sure the answer make sense in case the seller is trying to fleece you. Good owners will know their sleds and be able to answer most of the questions you will ask.