What To Look For When Purchasing a Used Boat
June 6, 2022


Boats are expensive, especially once you get into the marine watercraft. Many people choose to buy used instead of new but remain wary throughout the process due to the different risks of purchasing a used boat. The bottom line is that no one wants to buy a used boat that ends up costing more than a new one due to all the repairs needed. Check out the ten tips below, so you don’t end up with a money pit.

#1: Always Test It ON the Water

While there are quite a few steps between finding a boat and making th at final payment, one thing you should never skip is an on-the-water boat test. Even if it’s in pristine condition, you need to ensure that it runs well without any issues.

#2: Check the Condition of the Hull

When you lay eyes on a potential purchase, ca refully check the hull. Keep a keen eye out for any osmotic blisters. They don’t necessarily make or break a deal, but they’ll need to be dealt with and affect the resale value.

#3: Check for Cracks

Not all cracks in the gel lining are a concern, but if you see a cluster of cracks or a starburst pattern, it’s likely the boat had an impact in the past. This could indicate structural damage.

#4: Old Repairs and Chips or Scratches

While looking over the boat, note any areas with minor scratches or discolor ed surfaces. The discoloration often indicates repair, so if the seller hasn’t mentioned it, that’s a red flag. While it might not be a deal-breaker, it’s certainly worth a price reduction.

#5: Check the Steering System

Boat repairs are pricey, but none more so than the steering system. A worn-out steering system is a key concern when purchasing a used boat. Try moving the drive. If you can easily move it, or if it moves without affecting the steering wheel, walk away.

#6: Damage to the Keg and Props

T he keg and props need to be damage-free. Often, sellers will cut portions of the skeg off to hide a rough edge, so compare what you see to a model picture. The prop itself shouldn’t have any bends or breaks, either. If the prop has been repaired in the pas t, it should have a number stamped on it by the repair shop.

#7: Check the Lubricant

Within the lower unit, the lubricant should not smell burnt, have any metallic filings, or be compromised by water (this will look like a milky mixture if there’s an iss ue). You also want to check the engine oil and get it assessed by a marina to find out if there are any alarming trace chemicals.

#8: Check the Canvas

Covers are crucial, and they often take a lot of wear and tear over time. You need to factor in the cos t of replacement when buying the boat if they aren’t in good condition, as it’s somewhat expensive. Don’t just look at the fabric. Unzip the zippers, check the cover fit, and carefully inspect the seam work.

#9: Check the Upholstery

As odd as it sounds, if the upholstery is pristine, this might indicate a problem. Experts recommend complimenting the seller on the condition and asking what brand of cleaner was used on the boat. There are several that should never be used on marine boat s. You also want to do a touch test. The vinyl should not be brittle. A supple tactile indicates it’s been well taken care of over the years.

#10: Check for Corrosion and Wire Condition

Corrosion isn’t uncommon, as a mix of sun, salt, and water are sure to have an impact on metal. Look for a white or grey chalky substance on aluminum or a brown and red on steel. The battery unit should be completely free of corrosion, and the wires should be organized and neat.

Don’t panic if you run into some of these issues. Used boats have been used , and that’s okay. Decide whether or not the problems are too extensive to repair or are acceptable but worth a bargain. If you’re unsure, ask a professional to take a look. Good luck and happy boating!