Are Snowmobiles Expensive to Maintain? [Costs Chart]


Snowmobiles are expensive to maintain, as the average snowmobile owner spends $4,000 yearly on his passion! Based on our calculation, the annual owning costs of a snowmobile are around $1,500-$5,500 if you ride an average of 1500 miles a year. Used sleds are cheaper to maintain but less reliable, therefore they need more care. Owning a new snowmobile costs around $2,500-$5,500 a year depending on the make and model.

If you are considering buying a snowmobile, or just want to learn more about their maintenance costs this post is for you.

We’ve done the research and compiled all the owning costs into one chart. Additionally, you can also learn how much it costs per mile to ride a snowmobile.

No fluff, no useless affiliate links, just the solid numbers and info you need!

Owning Costs of a Snowmobile

If you are considering buying a snowmobile, beware that there are a lot of costs that you need to consider before you make your purchase. Unfortunately, many buyers don’t do the math upfront and, in the end, pay much more than they expected.

When it comes to the real owning costs of a snowmobile, they usually involve the following:

  • Purchase price/depreciation/taxes
  • Trailer/sled deck
  • Registration
  • License
  • Gear
  • Insurance
  • Gas and oil
  • Maintenance/repairs
  • Modifications
  • Costs of transportation
  • Trail passes/club fees
  • Storage fees

Let’s drill into the details and take a closer look at these one-by-one!

Purchase Price/Depreciation of the Snowmobile

One of the biggest costs is definitely the purchase price of the sled. The prices of new snowmobiles range from $6,000-$18,000, while the average MSRP is $13,500.

How much does a snowmobile depreciate?

If you buy a new snowmobile, you have to expect a much larger depreciation. As a rule of thumb, the original price value of snowmobiles decreases by 40%-60% after 4 years. The depreciation of a snowmobile depends on many factors; like the model, the ridden miles, its condition, and when it’s up for sale.

This means that if you purchase a new sled for $13,500 and want to sell it after 4 years, it will likely have lost $5,500-$8,000 of its value. Finally, this boils down to a $1,300-$2,000 yearly cost!

But keep in mind that after this first 4 years you can count on having less depreciation.

Your other option is to purchase a used sled. This way, you can expect much less depreciation, but higher maintenance costs.

Although you can even find older models for only $1,000 on the market, it’s highly recommended that you steer away from these cheap deals. These vintage sleds are very old and need a lot of maintenance.

Best practice is to avoid buying a used snowmobile if it’s cheaper than $4,000. Beyond the purchase price don’t forget that you will also have to pay some taxes.

Trailer/Sled deck

If you want to transport your snowmobile, you will need a sled deck or a trailer. Sled decks and open snowmobile trailer costs around $2.000-$5.000, while enclosed trailers are much more expensive.

Don’t forget that trailers also have maintenance costs, and you will have to purchase some accessories as well.

Gear

Aside from the trailer, you will also have to purchase a lot of gear. You will need the proper accessories; like jackets, bibs, boots, gloves, helmet, mask, and goggles, which are barely the minimum, since you will probably need bags, fuel caddies, a shovel, and so on. These accessories may cost you $500-$1000+. (Yes, snowmobile accessories are pretty expensive!)

Registration fee

Another owning cost of a snowmobile is the annual registration fee. This may vary from state to state, but be prepared to pay around $100-$150. If you are a club member, you can get a discount on these fees.

Licenses

In most states you need a snowmobile license to legally operate a sled. But even if your state doesn’t require one, it’s highly recommended that you take the licensing safety course. It only costs $30, which is a very small sum compared to the other costs!

Insurance

The cost of snowmobile insurance varies widely depending on the value of your sled and the coverage you purchase. Coverage that only covers liability may cost only $100, while the average cost of snowmobile insurance costs around $300-$400 annually.

It seems that you have to spend a lot of money before even starting the engine!

Gas and Oil

Considering that an average snowmobile gets around 15 mpg, this means it will burn around 100 gallons of gas in a season. (The average snowmobiler rides 1,500 miles annually.)

If we use a price of $3 per gallon of gas for our calculation, this results in a $300 fuel bill.

Don’t forget that 2-stroke sleds burn around 1 gallon of oil with every 40 gallons of gas. This means if you are considering a 2-stroke sled, the oil may cost you an additional $100 a season.

In a nutshell, for 4 years of use, your fuel costs would be around $1200-$1600.

Snowmobile Yearly Maintenance Costs

The yearly maintenance and repairs on a snowmobile typically cost around $200-$500. The annual costs depend on the snowmobile’s type, age, performance, condition, your riding style, and many other factors. Another important factor is whether you can service the sled yourself or not. If yes, you only have to pay just the parts.

This takes some time, but if you like working on engines it can be part of the fun.

As a rule of thumb, investing in a used sled always means less depreciation, but more maintenance costs and less reliability as well. If you can’t service your sled yourself, it’s not recommended that you buy a used sled, as taking it to a service shop all the time will be a big hassle.

Moreover, service shops and dealers typically charge $100 an hour or more for labor!

Beyond regular maintenance don’t forget that you have to be prepared for unexpected repairs. A broken track or hitting a tree with a snowmobile can lead to very hefty repair bills.

Therefore, the final costs fluctuate every year, and for every ride!

Modifications

When it comes to powersports, modifications to the vehicles are quite common. Snowmobiles are not an exception as many owners like to modify their sleds for a custom look or better performance.

If you want to modify a sled, beware that aftermarket performance parts are not only expensive but they also increase fuel consumption and shorten engine life.

Trail Passes and Club Memberships

If you want to ride on trails legally, you have to pay for trail passes and club memberships. The fees may vary depending on the club and the location, but be prepared to pay around $100 annually.

Costs of Transportation

One of the often overlooked costs is the fuel consumption and depreciation of your truck. If you want to regularly transport your snowmobile, you have to count these bills as well!

Also, don’t forget that a trailer increases the fuel consumption of the towing vehicle, which is why many owners prefer sled decks instead of snowmobile trailers.

Storage

Storing a snowmobile during the off-season is always a hassle. If you have an enclosed trailer, this could be a solution as you can store your sled inside it year-round. If not, you will probably have to store your sled in your garage.

Your other option is to rent a storage unit for your sled for the off-season, which may cost you an additional $300-$500.

Snowmobile Owning Costs Chart

For your convenience, we’ve compiled all snowmobile owning costs into one chart. First, let’s compare the initial costs:

Snowmobile Initial Costs [Chart]

Costs New Sled Used Sled
Price of the sled $6.000-$18.000 $4.000
Trailer/Sled deck $2.000-$10.000 $1.000-$4.000
Gear $500-$1.000 $500-$1.000
Modifications 0-$1.000 0-$1.000
Total $8.500-$30.000 $5.500-$10.000

This is just for informational purposes. For exact prices please contact your dealer!

As you can see, if you want to buy a used snowmobile it may cost you at least $5,500 with a used trailer and the necessary gear. As we’ve mentioned, older sleds are available from $1,000, but it’s really not recommended to buy such a cheap sled.

In contrast, the prices of new snowmobiles with the necessary gear range from $8,500 up to $30,000, or even more.

Based on the numbers it’s clear that snowmobiling is not an inexpensive activity!

Snowmobile Owning Costs [Chart]

Average costs of ownership 1-year costs 4 year costs
Sled depreciation $1.300-$2.000 $5.500-$8.000
Trailer depreciation $300-$1.100 $1.200-$4.400
Registration $100 $400
Yearly Insurance $300-$400 $1.200-$1.600
Gas $300 $1200
Oil 0-$100 0-$200
Maintenance/fixes $200-$500 $800-$2.000
Transportation costs 0-$500 0-$2.000
Trail passes/Club fees 0-$100 0-$400
Off-season storage 0-$500 0-$2000
Total costs $2.500-$5.500 $10.000-$22.000
Costs/mile (1500 miles) $1,7-$3,7 $1,7-$3,7

In this chart you can find the average owning costs of a new snowmobile. Please note that your real expenses could be less, or even much more in case you have an accident or major engine damage.

This is because they depend on many different factors; like the ridden miles, the way you ride, maintain, and store your sled and others.

Based on the numbers, the average owning costs of a new snowmobile are around $2,500-$5,500.

The cheapest way to own a snowmobile would be if you purchased a used one and maintained it by yourself. This way, you can count on less price depreciation and can save on labor costs as well.

On the other hand, be prepared for less reliability, which means that you will have to spend more time working on your sled.

Based on real experience the owning cost of a used snowmobile starts from $1,000, but it can also be much higher depending on how much maintenance it needs. An engine rebuild can put a significant strain on the annual budget!

Costs Per Mile of a Snowmobile

Based on our calculations, a snowmobile costs an average of $1.70-$3.70 per miles for 1500 miles of use. But if you ride only 500 miles you have to expect a cost per mile of $5-$10!

Let’s take a closer look at how much it costs for one ride on a snowmobile!

It strongly depends on how many times you use your sled of course. There are owners who live in the mountains and take 60-70 rides in a season, while others are happy to get 10-20 rides in a year.

To keep the math simple, let’s use 25 rides for our calculations. If your sled costs you $2,500 annually, it means you spend $100 for each ride. But with 50 rides the cost is just $50 a ride.

On the other hand, if you have an expensive sled and ride just 10 times a year it can even cost $800 for each ride, or even more!

Let’s compare these numbers in a chart:

Rides in a year Yearly costs $2,000 Yearly costs $4,000 Yearly costs $6,000 Yearly costs $8,000
5 $400 $800 $1200 $1600
10 $200 $400 $600 $800
15 $133 $267 $400 $533
20 $100 $200 $300 $400
25 $80 $160 $240 $320
30 $67 $133 $200 $267
35 $57 $114 $171 $229
40 $50 $100 $150 $200
45 $44 $89 $133 $178
50 $40 $80 $120 $160

As the average owner spends around $4,000 a year, it’s safe to say that the average ride on a snowmobile costs around $160-$400!

Conclusion – Are Snowmobiles Expensive to Maintain?

Are snowmobiles expensive to maintain? This a typical question asked by many beginners. It seems the answer is yes, as the average owner spends $4,000 on this sport every year, which makes them expensive!

If we do the math, it’s clear that the average owning costs of a snowmobile range from $1,500 up to $5,500. The costs vary widely depending on several factors: like the sled’s age, type, performance, and so on.

But let’s face it, owning a snowmobile is not like owning a stock. It’s not possible to count cost/benefit ratios as we’re talking about a passion! Even if snowmobiling is an expensive sport, many owners enjoy riding and it seems they can well afford to enjoy the activity.

This is our short compilation of the average owning costs of a snowmobile. We hope it helps in your buying decision!

References

http://www.gosnowmobiling.org/beginners-snowmobiling-tips.html

http://www.sledaddicts.com/post/Cost-of-Snowmobile-Operation.aspx

https://amsnow.com/how-to-tech/beginner-tips/2010/03/snowmobile-economics

https://www.snowest.com/2019/09/facts-about-snowmobiling-2019

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