Considering how many boats are on the water today, it is always a good idea to look at purchasing a pre-owned boat. Pre-owned boats, in some cases, can be purchased like new as some owners let them sit on the trailer or at the dock. If you’re in the market for a pre-owned boat, I recommend considering the 10 tips for buying a used boat. 

Don’t Rush The Process

The boat buying process requires time and patience. Never rush into buying a boat unless it is exactly what you’re in the market for. 

Unquestionably, boats come on the market routinely; therefore, if you remain vigilant, you will eventually find the one that suits your needs. 

I, unfortunately, have seen friends rush to get a boat to ultimately determine better options were available. Not only are you likely to lose money if you put the boat back on the market, but it becomes an unnecessary hassle. Wait it out until you find what’s right, and when you find it, put down a deposit. 

Never Over Pay

One of the best times of year to purchase a boat is during the colder months unless, of course, you’re buying in Florida. 

During the winter, many boat owners are attempting to avoid storing the vessel, so instead, they choose to put it up for sale. For the lowest prices, I recommend shopping in the fall and winter before costs climb in the spring. 

Secondly, I recommend comparing costs. Take a look at all of the vessels similar in size and condition and record the pricing. Comparing prices will prevent you from overpaying for a boat. If the boat you’re considering is well above the rest, take a close look and make sure the differences in the vessels are worth the added expense. 

I recommend looking up boat pricing on J.D. Power. The pricing on J.D. Power is location-specific.

Request A Sea Trial 

Recently, my friend purchased a boat but requested a sea trial before completing the deal. A sea trial allows you, as the prospective buyer, to operate the boat.

While you’re on the sea trial, I recommend listening to the engine, testing the electronics, and paying close attention to the ride. All of these aspects determine if it is worth investing in the vessel or finding another option. 

However, be respectful of the owner on a sea trial. Avoid pushing the boat to the limits and offer to pay for fuel if you decide it’s not the right fit for you. 

Ask For And Review Service Records

There is no doubt about it: when the seller has a file full of service records, this is like gold to a buyer. Understandably, excessive service could mean that the boat was prone to issues, but it is more likely that the owner kept up with the maintenance schedule. 

In the situation where the seller has the documents in hand, I suggest paging through them. You will quickly have a good understanding of the type of work performed in addition to the frequency. 

I suggest looking for long gaps between service intervals. If gaps are found, ask the seller if there is a particular reason. 

Pay A Mechanic To Inspect The Motor

The last thing you want to do is add to the overall cost of purchasing a boat. However, paying a mechanic may save you thousands of dollars. 

A boat motor mechanic is more likely to spot trouble compared to the person buying the vessel. I suggest paying a mechanic to do a thorough inspection of the boat engine before forking out the money and buying the boat. 

Remember, unnoticed issues can be severe enough to require a boat motor swap. You’ll want to avoid that situation all together. 

Insure The Boat Before You Tow It Or Drive It

I will admit that I have bought and towed a boat before it was insured. Looking back, it was a foolish decision as my investment could have gone down the tubes. 

Insuring a boat can be done with ease over the phone by providing a limited amount of information. Before you head out on the water or trailer the boat down the road, be sure that the vessel is covered under an insurance policy. 

Inspect The Hull

The hull of a boat is a critical component because it is the outermost protective layer. The shell of the boat is intended to keep the water on the outside. However, unnoticed cracks in the hull lead to serious issues. I would avoid buying boats with visible cracks. 

In addition to cracks are blisters in the fiberglass. Blisters are particularly common on boats that are stored in the water for extended periods of time. 

It is important to understand that fiberglass finishes are porous. With that said, water eventually seeps into the fiberglass and swells, causing a blister. Boat blisters are expensive to repair. For this reason, it is essential to identify blisters before purchasing a vessel. 

Take A Close Look At The Boat Trailer

One of the most often over looked factors in buying a used boat is the condition of the trailer. The last thing you want is to connect the boat and trailer to the tow vehicle only to find that the bearings are shot, or the lights are dead. 

I recommend asking the owner at what frequency the trailer was serviced. Also, connect the tow vehicle to the trailer to test the lights and the bearings. Taking a short spin will give you a pretty good idea if the bearings are showing signs of failure. 

Ask The Previous Owner All The Questions You Need Answered

When buying a used boat, it is important to gather as much information about the vessel as possible. To do so, go directly to the owner as they were responsible for scheduling maintenance and driving the boat and will know of all unforeseen mechanical issues. 

I recommend creating a list with all of the questions you need answers to. Remember, the list can be universal for all of the boats you are taking into consideration. However, unique questions will stem from each visit. 

Bring The Family To See The Boat

Without question, if you will be boating as a family, it is critical to have everyone catch a glimpse of the vessel before handing over the money. 

Remember, there are a multitude of hull variations and deck layouts. Not all will suit you and your family’s needs. 

With young children, it is essential to have ample seating options, such as a pontoon boat or runabout. Conversely, those without children may prefer a center console because of its spaciousness. Center consoles typically have much less seating in comparison. 

I would suggest making sure the wife and kids approve because you’ll always have more options. 

Eliminate The Risk Of Buying A Pre-Owned Boat 

Remember, you can be smart about buying a pre-owned boat to ensure that you’re not getting yourself into a money pit. Use these 10 tips when you’re out shopping. I recommend looking at atleast three points before finalizing a decision. In some cases, it can be a challenge to decide between a couple. Weigh the pros and cons and be confident in what you decide.