Buying any used product necessitates a lot of caution and research. However, when you’re buying something as expensive and mechanical as a boat, you need to be even more meticulous in how you research and purchase. If you aren’t careful, you’ll get taken for a ride – and we’re not talking about a pleasant boat ride around the harbor.

4 Tips for Used Boat Buying

Whether it’s a yacht or a pontoon boat, you want to make sure you’re being smart about your purchase by following these tips and suggestions:


1. Ask the Right Questions

Shopping for a used boat is all about uncovering information. While there are certain things a seller is obligated to tell you, there’s other information that they’ll likely withhold if not prompted to discuss. Your objective is to ask the right questions so that this information comes to light. Some questions to consider:

How old is the motor? When was the last time work was performed on it?

  • Have any major parts ever been repaired or replaced?
  • Has the boat ever been in an accident?
  • Where is the boat serviced – and do you have records?
  • Is the boat or motor still under warranty?

Asking the right questions can give you a good idea of how honest the seller is – as well as how well taken care of the boat is.

2. Understand What You Can Fix

When you buy a used boat, there will be issues that need to be addressed. Sometimes these issues are minor, while other times they are major. As you shop around, you have to be realistic about what can and cannot be fixed within your budget. You also have to consider whether you can personally fix the problems or if you’ll have to pay someone else to fix them. 

For example, let’s say you’re in the market for a used pontoon boat. Frayed carpet, ripped canopies, and discolored trim may be things that you can fix on your own. However, unresponsive gauges, wood rot, and engine problems are likely going to necessitate professional work. 

3. Get a Third Party Opinion

It’s a smart idea to get a third party opinion of any boat you’re considering purchasing. This can help mediate any issues that you and the seller have. For example, if the seller tells you the engine won’t need to be replaced for another couple years, but you feel as if it only has a couple months left, a third party mechanic can give you his opinion. 

As a side note, if a seller won’t let you bring out an independent party to look at the boat, then you probably shouldn’t trust them. An honest seller who has taken care of their boat won’t have any issues with a careful inspection.

4. Never Buy Without Test-Driving

Would you buy a used car without taking it for a test drive? Hopefully, the answer is no. Well, the same is true with a boat. You never want to purchase a used boat without spending some time on the water. This well help you get a feel for how it rides.

The Art of the Negotiation

In the end, you must be willing to negotiate when it comes to buying a used boat. While the individual seller or boatyard may tell you they don’t have any wiggle room on the price, there is almost always some flexibility. Very rarely will a seller list a boat for the absolute minimum they’re willing to take.

As you negotiate, point out all of the flaws and demonstrate a willingness to walk away. In fact, you may need to walk away. If the seller is merely playing hardball, they’ll probably call you back soon. And at this point, you’ll know you’ve got them on the hook.

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