Shopping for a used vehicle is a fairly run-of-the-mill process for most people. You go do a dealership, give the vehicle a lookover, maybe take it for a test drive, perhaps call a mechanic for a quick inspection and settle on a price. What many people don’t have quite as much experience with is buying a used boat. So, if you find a used boat that seems like a steal, what should you do to make sure it’s not a money pit in the making? We’ve got a few tips that may be just what you need.
Tips to Consider Before Buying a Used Boat
- Start Your Engines: Do not buy a boat if the seller doesn’t first let you start the motor(s). A lot can be learned from simply seeing how an engine or motor turns over and idles. Is there smoke? Excessive shaking or noise? Does it take a few tries to get started? All can be signs of engine trouble (but are not necessarily dealbreakers).
- Check the Oil: The condition of boat’s oil can be a great barometer for how the engine is performing. If it appears overly dark, gritty or even watered down, you may want to investigate further.
- Inspect the Electronics: Rewiring can be a pain, and faulty electronics can lead to serious fire or electrocution risks. Be sure that there are no signs of melted, burned or frayed wires before putting your money down.
- Look for Damage: This one may seem a bit basic, but any visual signs of hull cracking or water damage on the deck should be closely inspected to ensure they’re easy fixes or simply cosmetic issues. Be wary of boats that have a history with collisions, as they may have serious damage hidden just below the surface.
- Ask an Expert: Just like with used cars, when in doubt, ask an expert to provide an inspection. You may not be a boat mechanic, but especially if anything doesn’t seem quite right about the vessel, you should absolutely ask a professional to come in and provide insight that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
By testing the engine, checking the oil, inspecting electronics and wiring, looking for damage and calling in an expert, you can buy a used boat with a bit more confidence. Rule of thumb, however, if you’re unsure about the boat, it’s probably not worth the risk of buying a lemon. Happy hunting and we hope to see you on the water soon!