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Private Party Used Boat Purchase

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I'm considering buying a used boat from a private party - something I've never done before. The current owner states that he's the original owner of the boat and has all manuals and service records. But being that it is the middle of February, there is really no way to test drive the boat, ensure that the motor operates correctly and that the boat doesn't take on copious amounts of water when placed in the water.

I would appreciate it if you guys could share some tips in making sure you don't get stuck with a lemon when buying a used boat from a private party. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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i don't know were you live but if you live near the cities you could wait for a warm day and go to pool 2 or just go to pool 4 and launch out of everts resort. pool 4 is open year round and i believe pool2 is open as long as the weather hasn't been real cold for a long period.

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What kind of boat and motor? You can skate a lot on a a few thousand on a 20-year old 16-foot Lund with a 35 hp Johnson/Evinrude sitting on an E-Z-Loader but if you're talking about something newer than 2000 you're gonna want to make sure everything runs properly, deal or not.

Just saying, it's pretty tough times for a lot of people now and they're willing to sacrifice their stuff to stay in their house.

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Just my two cents

I bought a boat from another member of this site and it was the same kind of deal. It was late winter and I had the cash in my pocket and the deal was in my price range. Same problem. The lakes were covered and the seller didn't have a heated garage or water hook-up where it was stored. I looked it over pretty close and felt comfortable enough to make the deal without running the motor.

It was not the best idea. I am not trying to bash the seller. To be honest, I don't even recall the name or screen name. I take full responsibility for not doing more research or finding a way to test run it before the purchase.

Here is what happened. Since I didn't get a chance to start the boat....I didn't know how to properly start this particular make/model. It had a choke system that I was not familiar with and I spent a few days trying to get it started...ended up changing out plugs, hoses..etc. I finally called the previous owner and he explained how to start it and it fired right up but ran sort of rough. My mistake for not taking the time to clarify the starting process at the time of the sale. That spring I also noticed the gas gauge didn't work properly...something I missed in the inspection. The rough running motor never got better and ended up dumping about 800.00 into a tune-up, replaced carbs and fixing the gas gauge. The mechanic said it appeared the gas had not been winterized and it gummed up the whole system.

What did I learn? The next time I buy a used boat I will want to test run the motor and possibly drive it around for a minute or two before making such a purchase.

If I were you, I would at least make some sort of arrangements to test run the motor....use muffs or whatever just to hear it run and idle.

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Ideally you would take the boat out for a test run on a lake and test EVERYTHING (trolling motor, livewell, bilge, depthfinder, etc). In the real world that just doesn't happen. I have bought and sold many used boats and I have never taken one out to a lake for a test drive (as a buyer or a seller) I even bought one boat at an auction.

A boat for sale right now is going to be well below market value and that's the real story here, if I were you I would try to run the motor, if you can't take the guys word for it, build the risk you're taking into the price and hope for the best. You might be fine this spring, you might have to drop $2k into it, but if you saved $3k on the purchase you're still ahead.

If you're getting the boat for a couple grand less than what you would have to pay in the spring the gamble on having issues might be worth it.

I would also recomend doing a "what's it worth" post with pictures in the boat forum to get a real good idea on it's value.

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backlash 1

I have bought plenty os used stuff myself, and usually the savings are well worth it. The key thing I look for is the appearance of the rig. I usually can tell just by looking at it if it has been taken care of or not. If a person doesn't have enough respect for their equipment to keep it in imaculate shape, then I know it was probably abused. That is the deal breaker.

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I somehow disagree with some. I sold many boats, during low season and during opens season.

The main reason why somebody buys a boat right now is price, wait 2 more months and I can guarantee the price will increase of at least 25%, usually more. So people gets the money and finds deals which won't be available later, and the savings are there, but you have to buy "blind".

Main concern to me is motor, you can have a compression test and will show you how the motor runs. There will be few odds where the winterization is done poorly or not at all and carbs or injection will be gummed up and in need of attention, that's few hundred dollars added to final cost.

The lower unit needs to have good clean oil, water pump is another part I would replace anyway, regardless of what prev owner says, and that's an extra few hundreds.

Remaining parts and boat accessories won't be able to be tested, and buyer will have to buy "blindly".

The cosmetic look has not much to do with actual conditions, I've had many showroom condition bass boats but they had rods sticking out the block. It it "blings" it's not a reason it's in good conditions, some times it's a sign to stay away, and not only with boats, many cars are same way, they look good but they ain't going far.

I would suggest to take permission to bring boat to a mechanic/dealer and have it inspected, or take boat to a closer body of water but you will have to be responsible for winterizing it again whether you buy it or not.

At the end I feel the overall savings will cover for the few imperfections you will find in spring time, and you will still be ahead of game.

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Definitely bring it to mechanic. They should be able to go through the motor and identify if there are any concerns. When I buy a used car/boat - I typically have all the maintenance done anyway just so I know it is done right and up-to date, so if you have this done when the boat is checked out you will be ready as soon as the lakes are open.

If nothing else, if the mechanic does find something wrong, you can factor that into negotiating in the price to cover/help cover the repair costs.

Also, I am a firm believer it looks well taken care of, they have all the service records, and after talking to the owner he/she seem to understand how to take care of a boat - I will feel better about risking the purchase.

Good luck!

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Down Deep

As usual Valv gives some very sage advice.

If this the boat you want to buy, then it is prudent to check it out. Pull it to place where it is warm and fire up all the lights, pumps and everything else that runs on electric. Check the flooring for rot. A good indicator is a spongy feel. It may not be all over, but one spot is a good indicator and, want to have owner remove some screws so you can check under the carpet. Replacing a floor is not a easy job. Check out the seats and make sure they are solid and the wood is not rotten or the plastic and vinyl are not cracked or showing bleaching from the sun. Check the trailer and make sure it is running straight. Check the bearings, lights and tires. Then take it to a good dealer and have a mechanic check the motor. None of these items is reason to reject the boat. After all it is a used boat and you have to expect some wear and tear, but at least you know what you are buying.

The most import thing of all is to make sure that the owner has all the paperwork for the boat. Make sure the owner gives you a clear title. If there is a Security Interest listed on the title do not accept that title. Have the owner get you a clear title and make sure the the seller is the name who is listed on the title. Being prudent at the time of sale can save you lots of hassles should there be problems with the paperwork.

Another thing to remember is that you cannot enforce an promise of warranty on a person to person sale. So if the seller tells you to take the boat now and if you have any problems when you fire it up he will take care of the repairs "it is an empty promise" because once the sale is complete- it is final. He may make good on his word, but if he doesn't you have no recourse except to sue. The judge in a law suit would likely rule "buyer beware" unless there was clear evidence of fraud.

So when you drive out the driveway with you new boat in tow whatever happens is your baby.

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Appreciate everyone's comments and advice. I'm not what anyone would reasonably consider to be "mechanically inclined" so I'll need to find a mechanic in the south metro to assist with the evaluation that Valv outlined. Again, I appreciate the advice and may have more questions after I make my initial evaluation later today.

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