Is Snowmobiling Expensive – Let’s Look at the Facts

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Are you looking to buy a snowmobile but not sure if you have the budget? Well, you’ve just come to the right place. This article will look at the costs of owning and maintaining a snowmobile from the most popular brands such as Polaris, Arctic Cat, Ski-Doo, and Yamaha. Apart from just the sheer price of the snowmobile itself, you also have to consider gas prices, parts costs, insurance, and perhaps the most significant expense of them all, maintenance and repairs.

Indeed, never forget that buying is just the easy part; you’ll also have to regularly spend to maintain your sled in tip-top shape to prevent any mishaps. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to keep repair costs under control; I personally repair my sled using a Polaris snowmobile service manual, the same that certified mechanics use, and it helps me get an in-depth look into my snowmobile and fix everything without having to go to the repair shop.

But let’s dive right in and you’ll see what I mean.

Price of the snowmobile

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There’s no denying it; snowmobiles aren’t cheap — a brand-new model can easily cost you between $6,000 and $10,000, and that too for the trail ones, which are smaller in size and pack no more than 70 horsepower.

Meanwhile, larger snowmobiles, like touring or performance models, can quickly exceed the $15,000 mark. However, they also have a bigger engine and enough space to store all your equipment and travel gear.

Whichever model you choose, you cannot prevent its value from depreciating over the years. In fact, snowmobiles are some of the fastest depreciating assets and can lose 40% to 60% of their original value within just four years. A new sled that you buy for $13,500 would sell for nothing more than $6,000 to $8,000 after four years. Moreover, other factors such as miles ridden, condition, and service history can also influence the going price of your sled.

As a result, you can easily find used sleds on the market for as low as $1,000. But don’t just get lured in by these samples immediately. Get it inspected by a mechanic, or do it yourself by following snowmobile manuals first. Otherwise, you’ll quickly realize that poorly maintained sleds can be more trouble than a bargain. Indeed, they will drain you out with higher repair bills. We generally recommend going for models no more than 5 to 8 years old — they might cost more initially but will prevent you from having to deal with potentially expensive repairs in the near future.

Maintenance Costs

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Maintenance expenses account for a sizable chunk of your snowmobile’s operating costs. Unlike cars or other four-wheeled vehicles, snowmobiles require frequent looking after and tend to break down a lot more. On average, owners spend about $200 to $350 annually on the maintenance of their snowmobile, which is more than some cars, despite the much lower yearly mileage.

However, remember that routine maintenance can significantly reduce and prevent more significant problems. If you skip maintenance thinking you will save money; you are not only risking being left stranded in the middle of nowhere but also causing problems to pile up.

So, you will have to keep in mind the related maintenance costs when buying a snowmobile, and yes, they are expensive. Of course, that is unless you maintain your sled yourself. Authorized dealerships charge over $100/hr in labor, and you can save all that just by getting your hands on a few tools and a trusted snowmobile repair manual. Not sure where to find one?

Parts Costs

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Snowmobiles, like most powersports vehicles being used on rough trails and pushed all out more often than not, are susceptible to a lot of wear and tear. Parts like the front skis or the drive chain will need some love after a few years of use. Even the snowmobile track is subjugated to a lot of corrosive forces and over the years, may develop dents and holes compromising its overall integrity.

Luckily every part is replaceable, and can easily be bought online. But how much will it cost? Well, on average, owners spend roughly $250 annually to purchase parts for their snowmobiles. Depending on the type, a brand new snowmobile track can easily set you back over $600 — mountain tracks are even more expensive than standard ones and can cost upwards of $900 apiece.

Besides that, front skis tend to be the most fragile part of a snowmobile and may need to be replaced every 100 miles. And since a new pair cost around $160, it will need to be taken into account. Luckily, that’s also something you can do at home using a good snowmobile service manual.

Registration fee and Insurance

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Registration fees vary from state to state, but on average, expect to pay around $100-$150. Apart from that, you will also need a license to drive your snowmobile, costing another $45-$60 — not cheap but not that bad.

Still, buying insurance for your snowmobile quickly adds up. And although liability coverages start from $100, decent snowmobile insurance can cost well over $300-$400 annually.

All in all, expect to pay over $500 to get all the paperwork done before you can start riding your snowmobile.

Gas and Oil

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Unsurprisingly, gas and oil expenses vary and depend on the number of miles driven. Nonetheless, let’s say an average snowmobiler riding 1,500 miles annually, and a snowmobile going 15 mpg, we are talking about 100 gallons of gas in a season. Now say one gallon of gas costs $3, that alone is a $300 bill for a single season.

Moreover, let’s not forget about the engine oil that also needs frequent replacement. Most 2-stroke sleds tend to burn around 1 gallon of engine oil every 600 miles, so keep that in mind.

Last Words

So, is snowmobiling expensive? Yes, without a doubt. Unlike skiing or snowboarding, or even riding a motorcycle, snowmobiling is going to cost you a good amount of money. You are not even done after buying; owning one is also a recurring expense. Every year you’ll have to spend money on it, and worse still, you are spending on something that is losing its market value every year.

Sure, riding a snowmobile is fun. However, unless you are sitting on a gold mine, be prepared financially — maintaining a sled ain’t cheap. Still, if you can afford one, don’t hesitate to join a snowmobile club and ask members for advice regarding DIY maintenance. You’ll quickly see that your best bet to keep repair expenses under control is always to get your hands a little dirty.

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