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Kylersk

Help on buying used boat!

12 posts in this topic

I may be in the market for my first boat..

So, what should I look for (or look out for) in buying a used boat?

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First off what do you want how big? For fishing, skiing, both? Where do you fish? A little 14 aluminum job might be just fine for you but if you want to hit bigger water you will want something a little bigger. Give us some help on what you want to do with it and that will make the advice a little better.

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I guess I was looking at boat buying in general. What to check, what to look at and such. It's kind of hard to test drive them...

But.. What I want is probably a dual console fish and ski type of boat. Something I can fish out of, but also take the family (wife and 3 kids) cruising.

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Look at the bottom of the transom, make sure there are no bends or smashed areas. If there is stay away, it only takes a little bit to change the way it rides. Also check in storage departments for mold and soft spots in the floor.

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Do what you can to get the seller to meet you at the lake for a test drive. I'd be suspicious if they're not comfortable with that. I'd also take a compression tester with and check the lower unit oil.

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Look close at the trailer. Alot of boats are packaged with to light of a trailer to keep the price down. 20 gallons of gas, 2 or 3 deep cycle batteries, tackle boxes, anchor and all the rest of your gear push the wieght up higher than most people realize.

Check out the age of the batteries and tires. Like jtroop sugested an on the water test, compression test and look for signs of water in the lower unit.

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Check the conditions of the wood in the transom and the floor. Alot of the ones we replace are for customers who had just bought the boat and didn't realize it was bad. The flex in the transom will tell you the condition of the wood. Also bounce around with your heel in different spots on the floor. Excessive flexing or sponginess means that it will need a new floor soon.

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Thanks for all the replies..

Now, assume that I'm a complete dummie (Ok I am when it comes to boats)... How do I check compression? What am I looking for?

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Compression is checking the pressure in the cylinders, tells you if the motor is in good shape or if it's on its way to a rebuild.

The point made about trailers that are undersized for the boat is a great point. A good trailer is a dream come true and something you will never even think about, a bad trailer will haunt you every time you pull the boat (voice of experience). A bad trailer is a reason to not buy what otherwise seems like a good deal.

A "typical" 1st time boat buyer mistake is to get something smaller and cheaper than what they really want. Once you get it on the water it's not unusual to want a bigger boat, quicker holeshot, faster top end, etc. If you know what you want, if you've been around a lot of boats or in a lot of boats, then good for you and you're already well on your way. If you're just checking them out for the first time, you'll want to make sure that the boat you're buying is big enough for you. Ever hear of '2-foot fever'? Ever hear of anyone wishing they had a smaller motor? In my opinion finding a boat that has an undersized motor on it is an indication the owner probably cut corners to save some money, and it's probably not the best deal out there.

After you look at a few used boats you'll quickly see which ones have been kept in great shape, and which ones have been used and abused, or not taken care of.

Options and accessories are another thing to watch for. Undersized electric motors and cheap graphs are no bargain and are something you'll probably be tempted to replace soon. Even great electronics shouldn't command much market value on used boats, but the nice thing is you probably won't want to replace them. It really depends on what you like or want for your electronics, and how fussy you are about what you get. A lot of times a seller will take the electronics off a boat and drop the price, and this is probably a good way to buy a used boat as it will let you put on exactly what you want. Especially if the electronics were mounted on RAMs or similar so they're easy to swap out.

Hope this helps, good luck and have fun shopping.

BTW, we must be neighbors -- I am just NE of St. Boni, off Highland Road.

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Kyler, you can check compression yourself or have a shop do it for you (I wish you were closer).

It's a very simple procedure, go to Walmart (or any auto part store) buy a compression tester for $ 30.00 (automotive section), take all plugs out, thread tester in and crank motor keeping WOT (Wide Open Throttle), repeat process for every cylinder and record the results, you don't want anything less than 10% difference in between. The compression can vary from motor to motor, you can see from 85lbs to 175lbs depending on motor and year, but below 85 it's very suspicious. Now, if you find a cylinder that is almost flat, try to pour a little of motor oil in the hole, then test again, if it reads much more than previously (almost like the others) you MIGHT have stuck ring(s), caused by carbon, they will loosen up when you start motor.

This is normal, but very uncommon, 95% of the cases you have a bad cylinder...walk away regardless of how good is the deal (unless it's free) or how good loooking is the rig.

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Quote:

A "typical" 1st time boat buyer mistake is to get something smaller and cheaper than what they really want. Once you get it on the water it's not unusual to want a bigger boat, quicker holeshot, faster top end, etc. If you know what you want, if you've been around a lot of boats or in a lot of boats, then good for you and you're already well on your way. If you're just checking them out for the first time, you'll want to make sure that the boat you're buying is big enough for you. Ever hear of '2-foot fever'? Ever hear of anyone wishing they had a smaller motor? In my opinion finding a boat that has an undersized motor on it is an indication the owner probably cut corners to save some money, and it's probably not the best deal out there.

After you look at a few used boats you'll quickly see which ones have been kept in great shape, and which ones have been used and abused, or not taken care of.


Those 2 paragraphs are the bible when buying a boat. I just purchased a new boat last year. Do I wish I had more boat(yes) motor(yes), but it's what I could afford and also fit in the garage. Can it get me up on a water ski? (Yes) Can it handle big waves? (yes) Should I have gotten a bigger tolling motor(yes, yes, yes)

Also remember when purchasing a boat, used or new, you have to get life jackets, air horn(check the regs), fire ext, anchor, rope for the anchor, landing net, extra battery, nav light(if they don't come with it) and more then I can think of at the moment.

When I buy big ticket items or really anything for that matter I research the crap out of it before I make the decision. Shop around, I was looking for about a year and a half and a buddy at work bought this same boat and he brought in a flyer, and one look was everything that I wanted.

I ended up getting a good deal on a new Lowe 17' fish and ski with a 90hp merc. I love the whole package that I got but just made sure they threw in some of the "accessories" that were listed above.

When I bring it out in April of you want to take a look or a spin on the lake give me a shout.

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Quote:

Quote:

A "typical" 1st time boat buyer mistake is to get something smaller and cheaper than what they really want. Once you get it on the water it's not unusual to want a bigger boat, quicker holeshot, faster top end, etc. If you know what you want, if you've been around a lot of boats or in a lot of boats, then good for you and you're already well on your way. If you're just checking them out for the first time, you'll want to make sure that the boat you're buying is big enough for you. Ever hear of '2-foot fever'? Ever hear of anyone wishing they had a smaller motor? In my opinion finding a boat that has an undersized motor on it is an indication the owner probably cut corners to save some money, and it's probably not the best deal out there.

After you look at a few used boats you'll quickly see which ones have been kept in great shape, and which ones have been used and abused, or not taken care of.


Those 2 paragraphs are the bible when buying a boat. I just purchased a new boat last year. Do I wish I had more boat(yes) motor(yes), but it's what I could afford and also fit in the garage. Can it get me up on a water ski? (Yes) Can it handle big waves? (yes) Should I have gotten a bigger tolling motor(yes, yes, yes)

Also remember when purchasing a boat, used or new, you have to get life jackets, air horn(check the regs), fire ext, anchor, rope for the anchor, landing net, extra battery, nav light(if they don't come with it) and more then I can think of at the moment.

When I buy big ticket items or really anything for that matter I research the crap out of it before I make the decision. Shop around, I was looking for about a year and a half and a buddy at work bought this same boat and he brought in a flyer, and one look was everything that I wanted.

I ended up getting a good deal on a new Lowe 17' fish and ski with a 90hp merc. I love the whole package that I got but just made sure they threw in some of the "accessories" that were listed above.

When I bring it out in April of you want to take a look or a spin on the lake give me a shout.


could not agree more with these two post's. First boat I bought I dropped another $700 for the anchor, rope, dock rope, dock bumpers, Life jackets, throwable life ring and so on. Not to mention electronics, A VHF radio is a nice option to have and a requirment in some case's. Also signal flares are a good thing to have and in most cases a requirement as well as aerial flares a orange distress flag and a fire extinguisher.

All items add up quick.

My problem was I ended up with 5 foot fever grin.gif

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