Ultimate Used Boat Buying Checklist

You want a boat of your very own. New is out of the question, but purchasing a used boat will fit into the budget. Now your task is to find the perfect boat for your purposes. Here are the more important matters you should address when considering the purchase of any boat.


  1. 1. Boat Brand and Type: What sort of boat will you use regularly? How large should it be? Is there a brand you trust over all others? Answering these questions will narrow your search and make better use of your time.


  1. Boat Hours and General Condition: When you purchase used car, one of the first things you check is the mileage. With used boats, it’s the hours. A good rule of thumb is to only consider boats that have logged 500 or less miles. Anything over that figure and you can expect to invest a fair amount of cash in repairs.


In terms of condition, always check the hull. Feel free to walk around and tap on it. Your goal is to determine the hull is solid. If there’s a propeller, make sure it’s not warped or otherwise damaged. Be mindful of any spots where the paint is not a perfect match. That could indicate patching and a possible weak spot.


Remember to walk the boat floor. You want to make sure there are no soft spots. That would indicate some rotting and could spell major trouble.


  1. Take a Close Look at the Engine: Some issues you can spot immediately. Those include worn belts, hoses that need replacing, or cloudy oil that indicates problems with the engine block. The engine itself should be properly aligned and not listing to one side or the other.


  1. Have a Mechanic Take a Look: While you can spot more obvious problems yourself, having a marine mechanic check the boat is a wise move. A professional knows how to conduct a quick inspection and let you know if the boat, engine, and transmission are basically sound. The mechanic can also tell you if original parts are still being manufactured for that boat make and model.


  1. Ask About Warranty Transfers: If the boat is relatively new, some warranty benefits may transfer along with the boat purchase. If the present owner isn’t sure, a quick call to the manufacturer will provide the answer.


  1. Details About the Boat History: Along with the boat hours, you also want to know more about the boat’s history. Was it stored when not in use? Was the storage inside or outside? What’s the history of engine repairs? How about basic maintenance records? All this information will help you determine if the boat was cared for properly and likely to be as great as it seems.


  1. Take a Spin: Even if everything seems fine, you still want to take a test drive. That allows you to hear the engine in action and gauge the response. It also allows you to determine how well the boat handles. If all seems to be fine and the price is right, you’ve found the right boat.


Buying used boats is not something you do in an hour or two. Your best bet is to move slowly and not allow anyone to hurry you in the process. People who buy used boats will tell you that attention to detail up front will save a world of problems on the back end. Choose wisely and you will enjoy the boat of your choice for years. A good place to start looking for a used boat is BoatBuys.com