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How to: Buying a used Boat Checklist

3140 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  millsryno
Here is a check list that I put together to help people looking to buy a used boat.


BOAT CONDITION - Never take the word of the seller as to the condition of the boat he is selling.

TEST DRIVE - You wouldn't buy a car without test driving it first, would you? Same holds true with a boat, even more so than a car. They tend to require more attention and maintenance than cars. When you test drive the boat pay close attention to the following things while underway:

- Vibration: If it vibrates it could mean a variety of things like a bent propeller.

- Functioning Trim: check to make sure the trim works, which allows the motor to move from the down position to the angled position.

- Response: Rapidly, but carefully, test the steering from one direction to another to see how long it takes the boat to respond.

- Planing: Check to see how long it takes the boat to plane after take off.

- Shifting: Does the boat slip smoothly into gear, or does it jump?

- Reverse: Make sure the boat works in reverse.

- Gauges / Instruments: Check the temperature, RPM, and speedometer for proper function.

- Bilge: Make sure it is doing it's job. If your test ride is not long enough to tell, when you get back to the dock run some water in the engine hole with a water hose until the bilge kicks on


Check to see how many hours are on a boat. You measure a car's use by miles and a boat's use by hours. If a boat has more than 500 hours you can expect to pay some money in upgrades and maintenance.


Wood and water don't mix, especially in the floor of a boat. Carefully inspect the floor for soft spots, which indicate rot. Don't be afraid to get on your hands and knees and smell for floor for mildew.


Ask for a maintenance history on the boat. Find out what major repairs have been made to the boat. If a lot of work has been done to the boat, chances are there will be lots to come, which translates into dollars. Ask if the boat is still under warranty. Also, ask who the boat owner used for repairs and make a point to talk to them.


It's a good idea to have a qualified marine mechanic thoroughly inspect the boat before purchasing it.


Take a walk around the boat and inspect the hull and make sure it is in good condition. Feel free to tap on the hull all the way around and make sure the hull is consistently solid. Mismatched paint is a sign the boat has been in an accident. Also check for gel-coat blisters and dry rot.


Check the prop for warping, cracks, or nicks. Any of these things can throw off the performance of the boat.


How has the boat been stored while not in use? Was is stored outside and exposed to the sun and weather? Or was it kept in protected dry storage?


Depending on how the boat was stored can affect how the upholstery has held up over the years. Check for ripped seams and color fading. Also check the boat cover if there is one


check the trailer thoroughly look for rust Check the hubs.Check the bearings,pull on the wheels to make sure that there is no slop between the bearings and the axle.


Locate the boat in the N.A.D.A. Guide to find out the price value range for the model and year. Remember, if the boat is priced at the low end or lower than the low end it's likely the boat's had a history of problems and there is a reason the owner wants to get rid of the boat
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cool list heres one you forgot and its very important, very easy to check item,

with the boat in neutral spin the prop. whatch the center drill hole at the end of the shaft, if it doesnt spin 100 percent true make sure you plan on buying a new lower unit, NO if's an's or butt's about it.

That prop shaft is ground between centers if it runs out ( wobbly for you non machinest) the lower unit is bad. Anyone who says otherwise is on crack
it can be anything from bearings to a bent shaft to wollowed out bearing seats either way it needs to be rebuilt or replaced so consider the lower unit as junk.

this has nothing to do with a bent prop, this is a lower unit quick check only, the prop can be bent to hell and missing a blade and the shaft can still run true.

warranty alot of them say they have a full warranty but look at the fine print and see exactly what they cover! some dont cover seals, wearable parts, I dont think yamis cover high pressure fuel pump and i thought they were a few grand to fix.
warranty alot of them say they have a full warranty but look at the fine print and see exactly what they cover! some dont cover seals, wearable parts, I dont think yamis cover high pressure fuel pump and i thought they were a few grand to fix.
Also, if there is a warranty and it is transferable...make sure you have all the paperwork in your hands for the previous owner to sign. Don't rely on them doing it for you.
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