Choosing a used boat can save you a lot of money but buying used can come with risks. You want to make sure you’re getting a good value for your dollars, with no hidden expenses.
One thing to consider when buying a boat is the best time of year to make a purchase. Conventional wisdom says you’ll get a better deal at the end of the season. That’s often true, but don’t wait too long. Once a boat owner has paid to winterize and store a boat for the off-season, they may not want to sell it until the spring when they might get a higher price. Also, depending on your climate, once winter sets in you might not be able to take the boat out for a test run.
When you go to actually find a boat to purchase, you can look at boat dealerships, websites such as boats.com and boattrader.com, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, or marina or boat club notice boards. Once you’ve found a boat you’re interested in, ask the seller these questions so you have a better understanding of the boat’s quality and condition.
11 Questions to Ask the Seller When Buying a Used Boat
- What year were the boat and the motor manufactured? Are there any warranties in effect? If so, can they be transferred to a new owner?
Why: A warranty can offset the cost of any unexpected repairs while it’s in effect.
- How many hours has the motor been run?
Why: Hours on a motor are like miles on a car — older motors will generally have more hours on them.
- When was the boat serviced? What repairs have you needed? Can I see the servicing records? If not, can I contact the shop where the service was performed?
Why: A well-maintained boat is less likely to need repairs.
- How much do you typically spend on maintenance, fees, gas and storage?
Why: You’ll want to have a feel for the costs you’ll face beyond the boat’s purchase price.
- Do you take the boat out in saltwater?
Why: Boats and motors that run in saltwater need to be well-rinsed after every outing since the salt can damage them.
- Are you the original owner of the boat and motor? If not, how long have you owned it?
Why: A boat with a lot of previous owners raises questions about why no one has kept it for long.
- How do you store the boat in the off-season?
Why: Ideally, you want a boat that’s winterized and stored indoors when it’s not being used for a long time.
- Is everything included?
Why: You’ll want to know if navigation equipment, fishing gear, the trailer, safety equipment and other items are part of the package.
- When was the last time you used the boat?
Why: A boat that’s been stored properly can go unused for a long time. One open to the elements can deteriorate.
- Why are you selling the boat?
Why: People sell boats for lots of reasons, but if someone hesitates or can’t give you a good answer, that could be a sign they’re trying to unload a boat that has problems.
- Can I test it in the water?
Why: Taking a boat for a test drive can give you a feel for it and help you decide if it’s right for you.
Look to Farm Bureau to Cover Your Boat
When you buy a boat, you’ll need to protect it with insurance. Talk to a Farm Bureau agent to learn how Farm Bureau can provide the coverage you need.