Well folks, winter is officially here. If you haven't brought out the snowmobile yet, you're way behind! With the holiday break right around the corner, you don't have any excuses left not to spend some time with the sled.

Whether you're a casual snowmobile rider or a serious racer, you need to know at least some basics about your machine. While snowmobiles are relatively small, they are still complex machines, and understanding and appreciating that complexity will help you be a better rider, plus it can save a lot of headache if something breaks down.

To maximize your enjoyment, you want to keep all the parts on your sled working with the highest possible precision. In order to do this you need to service everything from the snowmobile shocks to the engine on a regular basis. Like you're car, a little cost for maintenance can save a whole lot on repairs.

It doesn't take much to find parts dealers, both online and around town. The trick is to do enough research that you find a quality dealer and get your parts at the best price. It's easy to be taken advantage of if you don't know what is going on inside your sled.

Different sections of your snowmobile include engine, body, suspension, traction, steering and accessories like lights and seating. Each section has specific parts. Like I said, it's pretty complex for such a small machine. Once you get the basics down of the function of each part, you can start customizing your sled. This is where the fun really starts!

Pretty much any part of the snowmobile can be customized somehow. It can be something as simple as painting to a big job like upgrading the engine. Steering or snowmobile shocks are common things to work with, as they have a direct impact on the response and feel of the ride.

If you aren't experienced with mechanical things, make sure you find someone who knows what they're doing and won't overcharge you for their services. It can cost a lot to get your sled the way you want it, both in time and money. You don't want to go overboard, so again, do your research to find out exactly what you want, need, and can afford.

As always, safety is the most important consideration of all. Never do anything with or to your sled that will put you or anyone around you in danger. The guidelines set out on snowmobiles are there for a reason, so don't ignore them out of hand. As you become more experienced there are further modifications you can make that it would be unsafe for a  beginner, but make sure you are prepared for whatever you plan to do, or the joy of snowmobiling could become a whole lot less joyous.