Questions To Ask When Buying A Used Boat

10 Essential Questions To Ask When Buying A Used Boat

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In the world of cars, motorcycles, and trains, boats are not mainstream. Owning a boat in 2021 is a big deal, and big deals are usually exciting.

Sometimes, however, excitement beclouds one’s sense of judgment, making it difficult to make good decisions.

If you’re buying a used boat, you must be trying to save on money. Buying a useless boat for cheap isn’t a smart way to save money.

Here are some questions to ask when buying a used boat to make sure you’re getting the best value for your money.

Questions to ask when buying a used boat

1- Why are you selling the boat?

Why the owner wants to sell the boat is something that you need to know as a buyer. Sometimes, they’re just tired of having to repair it every time, and they want it away.

It’s unlikely that they’ll come clean to tell you that the motor is faulty and they’re tired of paying for the weekly repair. However, you can tell if something is amiss based on their response.

One good reason why owners sell boats is for an upgrade. If you get an exciting answer telling you about their planned upgrade, you may be in for a good deal.

However, if you’re met with hesitation and indecisiveness, you should do some additional investigation to make sure they’re hiding nothing before picking up the boat.

2- Is there a warranty on the boat?

Warranties give you some extra confidence, but it’s not available for every used boat. Before shelling out money for a boat, you may want to learn about the boat’s warranty state.

Does it have any transferrable warranties?

If you’re the boat’s third owner, you’ll lose most of the warranties. Since most warranties can only pass down to the second owner of the boat, there’s very little hope.

If you’ve not previously owned a boat, you should always go for one with some warranties, at least. If there are any warranties whatsoever, claim it as necessary.

3- When was it last serviced?

If you’ve owned other vehicles, you should know motors need some servicing to stay in good. The boat runs on a motor too. If it doesn’t undergo frequent servicing, it will wear out pretty quickly.

Before purchasing a boat from a private seller, you should get some proof that the boat underwent frequent servicing under their care.

Simply asking may not suffice here, as it’s easy to lie about it. However, you can request the boat’s service log if it’s available. If you can’t get a service log, verify the information from the servicing company if you have the boat’s VIN.

If the seller won’t release any service logs and hesitates to tell you the business where they carry out the servicing, you should get another boat.

4- Has the boat undergone any major repairs?

Before dropping your money for a boat, you should ask the owner of the boat has recently undergone any extensive repairs. If it has, you should find out what parts have undergone repair.

Damages to a boat’s engine are usually expensive to replace, and you don’t want a boat that becomes a liability instead of transportation equipment.

Since it’s easy to hide the proof of the repairs that they did, you should always insist on calling the repairer to confirm for yourself.

If the seller won’t provide their contact details for any reason, you should walk away.

5- Do you use the boat in saltwater?

Saltwater and boat engines don’t work quite well together. While your boat’s engine can survive saltwater if you flush it after every use.

In general, you may want to avoid boats that have spent some time on saltwater. However, if you feel that the boat has received utmost care, you can consider them among your options.

If you plan to use the boat in saltwater, it’s best to get a boat that has been specially trained for that. If you don’t ever plan to ride on the saltwater, the best option is a boat that has never been exposed to it.

6- Was it originally your boat?

When buying a used both, it’s always best to buy from the original owner. The original owner knows everything about the boat from inception and can give you real details about the boat.

However, a second owner who hasn’t used the boat for long can’t tell you how well the first owner cared for the boat. You’ll be lucky if you can get service logs down to the first owner.

Even if you get everything, one thing you won’t be getting is the warranty. Most warranties with boats only pass down to the second owner and not the third.

If you plan to keep your boat for a pretty long time, it would do you a lot of good to find a boat put on sale by its original owner.

Since you’re not the original owner now, I wonder how you’ll sell the boat to the third owner.

7- Can I take it for a sea trial?

The sea trial is the boat equivalent to a test drive. It is a vital step in the process of purchasing a used boat.

Before dropping money for the boat, you should ask the owner to let you take it on a sea trial. Typically, they’ll let you do that without any qualms.

However, if they refuse, or try to talk you out of taking a sea trial, don’t consider buying the boat. You can only test so much on land. If you can’t get on the water to do the real thing, then it’s worthless.

When going on the sea trial, it’s crucial to pay attention to every part of the boat. If you have a few bucks to spare, you can hire a marine surveyor, the equivalent to a home inspector, but for boats.

The marine surveyor will take multiple tests and present a boring report. You’ll learn better from the inspection by asking questions about the boat.

If you’re doing it all by yourself, make sure the boat is in a near-perfect state during the sea trial. A trial with many hiccups will birth an unusable boat.

8- How have you stored the boat?

A boat that’s up for sale must have been stored for quite some time. The storage medium is one of the factors to consider before getting the boat.

Asking the seller where they store the boat will help you determine if it has undergone proper storage.

In general, boats stored in the dry are usually stronger and less susceptible to rust, wear, or tear. On the other hand, boats that spend most of their time in water gradually deteriorate their build quality.

9- How many hours does the motor have?

The higher the mileage of a car, the worse it gets, right?

This question is a way to solve that problem, only that it’s for boats. However, this shouldn’t be your ultimate deciding factor, as it’s not a reliable method to judge a boat’s motor.

With the advancement in technology, the motors in boats have become faster and more durable. A boat from 2000 with 200 hours on its motor isn’t the same as a 2021 boat with the same stats.

This doesn’t imply that the 2021 boat is on par with the year 2000 boat. It is usually better.

However, the worst-case scenario is getting a boat that the owner couldn’t determine the hours on the motor. I’d run from that kind of deal.

10- What’s the boat made of?

Depending on your intended usage, you may only want to go for boats with a specific build material.

Modern boats can be built with many different materials ranging from steel to wood. They all have varying durability and maintenance costs.

Steel boats are usually heavy and require new coats of paints every year but work well regardless. Wooden boats are the good old boats that you can get for the lowest prices. Keeping them on the water is another subject entirely.

Aluminum is a lighter material that also makes good boat construction material. It also requires lower maintenance costs and is one of the best choices for a boat’s coating.


Buying a boat is difficult, but buying a used boat is an art. If you don’t know the right questions to ask at the right time, you’ll end up purchasing a good-for-nothing dud.

To avoid this kind of scenario, you should prepare a list of questions before negotiating with the seller.

Boat sellers may try to hide lots of defects about their boats. It’s your job to see through this and highlight the defects to make the right decision.

This post lists some questions to ask when buying a used boat to enable you to see through their deception and get all the information you need to make a good decision.

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