Ultimate Used Boat Buying Guide2021-08-04T20:25:07-04:00

Ultimate Used Boat Buying Guide

Used Boat Buyers GuideWhen it comes to treating yourself, buying a boat is way up there with the good things that you can do today!

Buying a boat, however, is not as simple as turning up to the dock and choosing one.

You could be scouring the sales adverts online and in the newspaper and not find the right used boat for sale.

There is a lot to consider when buying a used boat, and there are things that you have to inspect before you purchase to ensure that your boat is safe for use before you run that used boat motor on the water.

It’s easy to forget to check these items but you have to ensure that you do the right checks before you bring your used boat home.

What To Look For When Buying A Used Boat

Whether you are looking for an older boat to fix up or you are looking for a used boat for sale that’s almost new, you need to know where to find the right one to complete your dream purchase. Buying a used boat often means that you can get a nicer vessel that has been properly outfitted, and the price is less than you’d spend when you buy a new one.

The internet has made finding the perfect used boat for sale easier than it used to be. You can search for and buy a used boat for sale with a few clicks.

The geographic boundaries are removed, too, which means that you can shop anywhere you want and travel to pick up a used boat for sale. This also means that you can cast a wider net in finding the right boat.

Obvious places that you can start your search for a used boat for sale include places like Boat Trader, Gumtree and other sites like Craigslist. You can even search social media sales pages and chat forums, too, ones that center on boats and boat enthusiasts.

You’ll get the word out that you’re on the hunt for a used boat for sale, and you can get your friends involved in the search if you use social media, too.

Before you go ahead and confirm any purchase, though, there are some things that you have to look out for. Let’s take a look:

Request A Test Drive

Before you take any boat away and sign your name on a contract, make sure that you take it for a test drive in the water.

You don’t want to get a boat home only to find that it doesn’t ride anymore and you have bought a dud. A test drive allows you to keep an ear out for any issues and worries and it allows you to see whether it will run at all.

You have to insist on your boat test drive involving a cold start, too, as this will help you to know whether there aren’t enough hours left on the engine or not.

How Many Engine Hours Are Left?

One of the things that you should do is snap a picture of the engine hours before you go on the test drive and again when you get back.

People love a boat with low hours as much as they love a car with low mileage. Low hours means more boats left to use, so check the hour meter when you first hop on and again when you come back. This will ensure you know why the boat has low hours on it.

It may not be the best option and this means that it’s a low prospect option for you to use.

What About Engine Oil?

If you look at the dipstick when you get on board, you can tell whether the oil has any issues when it’s in the boat.

You can tell if it’s just been changed or not and it shouldn’t be black oil. There should be oil that’s clear of any water on it and it should smell oil-like rather than like gas. Gas smells can indicate issues.

Have a look under the oil cap and check if there is a dark brown residue. If the residue is milky or like chocolate milk in consistency, you could be looking at an issue with the head gaskets.

Inspect Physical, Electrical, and Motor Characteristics

Your boat inspection should include a full physical and electrical inspection to ensure the wiring to be healthy and electrical components like fish finders to be in working order. The physical inspection should cover every visible surface to rule out any holes or rust – which is cancer for a boat.

It should also be in the right condition for the price. Any upholstered deck chairs, and furniture should be looked-over for wear and tear as well as cracks and needed repairs. Your inspection should also include the motor characteristics so that you know that it’s working correctly.

Is There A Local Marine Technician?

Who has been performing repairs on this boat for all this time? Knowing that it’s been looked after by the right people is important, as you would expect to ensure that there has been an expert looking after it.

A marine technician is skilled in boat repairs and all things water technology, and you can tell whether the boat has gone through a patch job or two from a car mechanic compared to someone who understands the way that boats run.

Check Trailer Health

Almost everyone buying boats wants to ensure that they can tow it to their home if they want to, which means that you need to make sure that it’s compatible with a trailer and that you purchase one.

Before you get the boat into the water, inspect the trailer for any rust, ensure that the parts are intact and check the condition of the bunk rollers, too. Check the surge brakes and the lights, and check that it’s correctly registered, too!

You want to know that your trailer is correct and able to tow the boat properly, which is why it needs just as much inspection as the boat does.

Check the Title & Write A Bill of Sale

Before you put your signature on anything, you need to ensure that you check the title to ensure it’s legal and correct, and write a bill of sale.


It’s important to keep in mind that being patient and methodical is key when you consider purchasing a used boat. Some people, especially those who are new to boating, get suckered into making a bad purchase with your hard earned money by some seller trying to pawn off their poorly maintained boat on you. Don’t be one of these people!

Instead, check, double check, and check again, all areas mentioned above!