Shopping Used Boats For Sale

If you are a first time boat buyer, there can be a lot of unknowns when it comes to purchasing your first boat. If you don’t want to buy new, a used boat for sale will serve most people just as well. However, there are still some things that you should keep in mind when shopping.

Things To Look For When Buying A Used Boat

  • Cracks. When looking at a used boat for sale be sure to check for cracks. Smaller, spiderweb type cracks are usually cosmetic, these those around screws, gunwales, and windshields, but pose no dramatic threat. Though they can get worse if not fixed, they shouldn’t necessarily be a deal breaker. That said, cracks bigger than 2 inches could suggest bigger issues. Ask the boat dealer if the craft had been in an accident or collision. Signs of patchwork repairs could also be a sign that something has happened. If you want to know for sure, you can always get a professional inspection.
  • Damage. If you notice any cracking, moisture, or flexing in any of the fiberglass or wooden areas this could be a sign of breakdown or rot. If you see any signs that point to this, it’s best to walk away.
  • Seats. Check and see how sturdy the on deck seating is. If it is movable, or wobbles to any extent it could be a sign that either the bolts are stripped, or even that the floor is rotting. The bolts are an easy fix, but the latter, not so much. It’s a good thing to check just so you can be certain it’s nothing serious.
  • Mildew. Another thing to check when browsing used boats for sale is signs of mildew. The best places to check are the carpets and seats, as they often can get wet without drying properly. While standard upholstery can be cleaned easily, if mildew is extensive it could require the installation of all new seating. And because mold can spread easily, a lot in one place could be a sign that it’s spread to other fixtures, including the wood.
  • Electronics. Before signing off always check the electronics. Try to make sure it is functioning as it should. While a couple things not functioning could indicate a fault in wiring or in the battery, those can be relatively easy fixes. However, if you notice wire insulation has melted, or if there are signs of overheating in the engine, you should definitely look somewhere else.
  • Belts. Take a look at the alternator and power steering system. If the belts seem worn out or cracked it’s a sign that they need to be replaced. Typically they should be every 100 hours of run time. This is a minor issue, and may even be covered by the dealer you’re buying from.
  • Engine. Just like with a car, you should never make the purchase without starting it up. Make sure it doesn’t shutter, overly vibrate, or produce smoke while running. These can be signs of a larger problem just waiting to happen. To be sure you can always get an outside inspection, but if you sense anything abnormal with the engine, looking at another vessel is probably your best bet.
  • Oil. Finally, when testing out a used boat for sale, always check the oil. If you feel any gritty material when rubbing it between your fingers it could be a sign that the engine is wearing out. Alternatively is the oil is milky it could point to water getting into the system. Both of these can be signs that it’s time to abandon ship and find another vessel.


When shopping for a used boat for sale, following these tips can help you find the perfect boat for you, and one that will last you for years and years to come.