When you're just starting out on your snowmobile adventure, you may not know what you're looking for to meet your sledding needs. Buying your first snowmobile can be very intimidating. High costs, questionable used machines, and all the uncertainties of a new venture can make this purchase a lot more confusing than it needs to be.

A little research and some tips can really ease the pain of the process. Just like buying your first car, it won't be nearly as scary if you're prepared and know what you're looking for. So what should you look for in a snowmobile?

For first time snowmobile owners, it might be a good idea to find a quality used machine. This reduces the first time expense, and gives you something to learn to ride on. A broken in machine makes the learning process a bit easier. On top of that, you don't want to spend too much only to find out your new-found love of the sport isn't as deep as you may have thought.

One of the first steps in finding out what machine best fits your needs is almost too simple: find out what your needs are going to be. There are machines designed for high speed, high performance competitions, and others that aren't designed for speed, but for easy handling. Still others are built for travel through deeper snow.

Engine sizes vary as well, and the size you want depends on what you will use it for. Generally, a larger engine means more horsepower and higher speed. If, however, you are going to be loading and unloading your sled frequently, you may not want the engine to be too heavy. To start out, it's a good idea to stick to smaller engines, so you aren't tempted to go faster than your experience can handle.

Next, consider your needs, and weigh each machine against them with pros and cons. Ever machine is a little different, so it's important you research each one. Do you want a machine that's easy to handle and maneuver, but is somewhat lacking in horsepower? Or would you prefer the horsepower at the expense of more difficult loading and unloading?

Some machines are much easier to modify as well. How important will it be to upgrade and customize your sled down the road? If you plan on being a casual rider for the long term, you may as well purchase a lower cost machine with fewer options. Find out how hard it is to change the snowmobile shocks, skis, or exhaust if you think you may want to do that at some point.

Asking yourself these kinds of questions as you prepare for the purchase is vital in finding a good machine at a good price. Make a list and check every machine against it. If buying a used machine, make sure the snowmobile shocks and other parts are in good working order. Don't rush into any purchase, or you risk becoming an easy victim of a scam. This is an important decision to your recreational future, so don't take it lightly.