What to Look for When Buying a Used Boat

Buying a used boat can be a smart way to save money and avoid the steep depreciation that comes with purchasing a brand-new vessel. Doing your research and thoroughly inspecting any used boat before making a purchase is crucial. In this article, our team at Bretz RV & Marine outlines what to look for when buying a used vessel so you can find a reliable boat at a great price in the Idaho and Montana areas.

What to look for in a used boat

What To Ask When Buying a Used Boat

Before even looking at a used boat, it’s important to ask the seller some key questions. Inquire about the boat’s maintenance and service history, including how many hours are on the engine and if there have been any major repairs or part replacements. Ask what equipment and accessories are included with the boat, such as life jackets, fishing gear, or water sports equipment.

Knowing the seller’s motivation for selling the boat can give you insight into its condition and help with price negotiations. For example, are they moving up to a larger model or getting out of boating altogether?

What To Look For in a Used Boat

When buying a used boat, it’s important to inspect it properly to avoid wasting time and money on an unsuitable vessel. Check the general condition of the boat’s different areas to ensure it meets your requirements and budget.

Inspect the Hull and Exterior

When you go to see a used boat in person, start by thoroughly inspecting the hull and exterior. Look closely for any cracks, blistering, or soft spots that could indicate structural damage. Check the condition of the rub rail, cleats, and other hardware to ensure they are securely mounted and not corroded. If the boat comes on a trailer, give that a careful inspection too. Look at the tires, wheels, lights, and coupler for any issues. Signs of previous damage or sloppy repair jobs on the hull or trailer are red flags that the boat may have been poorly maintained.

Check the Transom and Floor

Check that the transom (the strip of wood where the outboard motor sits) is in good shape and isn’t rotten. Inspect the wooden floor, too, for any signs of rot or softness, especially in high-traffic areas and those places prone to getting wet.

Evaluate the Engine and Mechanical Systems

The engine is the heart of any boat, so it pays to give it special attention when shopping used. If possible, ask a marine mechanic to join you for the inspection, as these specialists can check the engine’s compression, look for leaks, and assess the condition of the belts and hoses.

If you’re on your own, at least start the engine to make sure it runs smoothly and there’s no concern from smoke or noise. You should also test the controls, steering, and throttle to confirm they operate properly. If you can, inspect the fuel system for leaks and examine the bilge and live well pumps too. It’s also important to ensure that the electrical systems, gauges, and lights function correctly.

Inspect the Lower Unit and the Motor Tilt and Trim

Check the condition of the gear lube in the lower unit and look for any damage to the prop or a bent prop shaft. Make sure the motor raises, lowers, and steers smoothly and correctly.

Review the Interior and Accessories

While perhaps not as critical as the hull and motor, a boat’s interior condition is still important to consider. Sit in all the seats and look for tears, cracks, or excessive wear. Inspect the carpet, vinyl, and upholstery for stains, mildew, and sun damage.

Test any accessories that come with the boat, like a stereo system, GPS, or fish finder. Ensure things like seat cushions, the Bimini top, and side curtains are in good shape. Look in all the storage compartments for signs of water intrusion and check that hatches and latches open and close smoothly.

Buying a Used Pontoon Boat

When purchasing a used pontoon boat, focus on assessing the deck condition, tube integrity, seating layout, motor performance, and additional features. Ensure the deck is free from wear and tear, and that the boat has no visible damage. Also, evaluate the seating arrangement for comfort and storage options. Consider the motor type and any extra features like canopies or stereo systems. 

Buying a Used Fishing Boat

When buying a used fishing boat, prioritize factors like livewell capacity, electronics and navigation equipment, stability and handling, and hull construction. Evaluate the boat’s layout for fishing convenience, inspect livewells and fish boxes, and ensure electronics are functional. Assess stability and handling characteristics, and inspect the hull for signs of damage. Consider your specific fishing needs to make an informed decision. 

Benefits of Buying From a Reputable Dealer

While buying from a private party can sometimes yield a lower price, there are advantages to purchasing a used boat from an established dealer like Bretz RV & Marine. Reputable dealers often offer extended warranty options for added peace of mind. They also typically put secondhand boats through rigorous inspection and reconditioning processes to ensure quality.

Buying from a dealer like Bretz RV & Marine gives you access to their entire inventory of used boats, making it easier to find the make and model that best fits your needs and budget. Dealers can also help with arranging financing, registration, and other paperwork to make the buying process smoother.

Find Your Perfect Used Boat at Bretz RV & Marine

With some careful research and a thorough inspection, buying a used boat can be a great way to fulfill your dreams of cruising Flathead Lake or fishing the Clark Fork River. Remember to ask detailed questions, closely examine the boat’s exterior and interior, and consider the benefits of buying from a trusted local dealer like Bretz RV & Marine.

Our knowledgeable staff can help you find the ideal vessel for your needs and budget. Stop by or contact one of our Montana or Idaho dealerships today to start your boating journey.

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