How to Buy a Used Boat: What to Look for

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So you’re ready to take the plunge and invest in a used boat, exciting! However, boats aren’t cheap, and before making this important investment, we want to make sure you know how to buy a used boat so you get the best value for your money.

What to look for in a used boat? It’s super important that you look into all the details and pick a boat in optimal condition; this way, it will be cheaper to maintain for years to come. Here are some key factors to consider when choosing your new vessel. 

Purchasing a used boat in the summer comes with several distinct advantages. Firstly, it’s the perfect time to thoroughly inspect and test-drive the vessel under optimal weather conditions, ensuring its performance meets your expectations. 

Additionally, private sellers and dealerships may have more inventory during these peak boating months, offering you a wider selection to choose from. Moreover, the summer season allows immediate enjoyment of your new boat, giving you plenty of time to familiarize yourself with the boat and address any minor issues.

Hull and Deck Condition

First, you’ll want to inspect the hull and deck condition since they provide structural integrity and protection. Hulls and decks that have been damaged or weakened by age can cause costly repairs down the road. Check for signs of wear and tear. If you find any, consider how much it will cost to fix. 

One recommended technique is to tap gently along the hull and deck. You’re listening for a consistent sound, which indicates a solid fiberglass structure. Any changes in tone might suggest areas of concern, such as delamination or moisture damage.

Furthermore, be cautious about any drilled holes in the mast near the deck and periodically inspect them to ensure there are no cracks. Cracks around these areas could imply structural stress and may require immediate attention.

Used Boat Mechanical Issues

Mechanical issues can be a major headache. Make sure to check the oil, lubricants, and battery condition; these things are essential for your boat’s functioning, so take the time to make sure it’s in good shape. Also, remember to give the wiring a quick look to make sure everything seems durable and stable. 

If you’re not confident in your boat’s mechanical knowledge, don’t hesitate to contact a trusted mechanic for some help. Visit Vally Marine. Our expert technicians can help you answer all your mechanical questions. 


Used Boat Corrosion or Weathering

Keep an eye out for any signs of corrosion or weathering that could indicate problems down the line. It’s also a good idea to ask your vendor if the boat’s engineering has ever been submerged or if the ship ever sunk. 

You can also take a peek underneath the engine to ensure everything is in shape. Trust us, a little extra diligence can save you a boatload of problems and lost weekends lost out in the waters. 

Used Boat engine Hours: 

Engine hours on a boat refer to the total amount of time that its engine has been running. Much like the odometer in a car tracks miles driven, engine hours serve as an indicator of the boat’s usage and wear. 

This measurement is crucial when assessing the condition and value of a used boat, as a higher number of engine hours might suggest more extensive wear or potential maintenance needs.

While a boat’s engine hour can give you a pretty good idea of how much it has been used, it doesn’t provide a full account of HOW it was used; it’s just an indicator of the time on the water. The wear of a vessel can be much different between a relaxing vacation type of boat and a high sport extreme one. 

Ask what was the use of the boat you are about to get. This will give you some idea of how those engine hours were spent. Knowing a boat’s engine hour can also indicate whether it’s time for a service soon. 

There isn’t necessarily a “right” number of engine hours, but the typical range is between 75-100 hours per year. “There isn’t necessarily a “right” number of engine hours, but the typical range is between 75-100 hours per year. 

used boat engine hours

Trailer Quality

Heading out to the lake with your brand-new boat is meant to be exciting, not frustrating. That’s why it’s crucial to ensure your trailer is in top shape so you don’t get stuck at home. 

Begin with a thorough inspection of all moving parts, as these are the components that are most susceptible to wear and tear. Tires, for instance, should be checked before every trip.

Look for signs of excessive wear, cracking, or embedded objects like nails or shards of glass. Additionally, tire pressure is critical to maintain; incorrect pressure can lead to poor handling or increased tire wear.

Your trailer’s tie-down straps also demand careful attention. These straps secure your boat during transport, so they need to be sturdy and reliable.

Lastly, remember to keep your trailer’s load evenly distributed. An unbalanced load can cause handling problems and put unnecessary strain on your trailer’s structure.

Safety Gear

Safety gear plays an indispensable role in ensuring your well-being, acting as your first line of defense against potential accidents or emergencies. Its importance escalates when you’re out on the open water, where help may not always be immediately available.

Always check the safety equipment before making your purchase. This gear includes items like life jackets, flares, and fire extinguishers, which should all be inspected to make sure they are properly working.

It’s important to ensure that all safety equipment is not only present but also in optimal working condition. Regular checks and maintenance are key to guaranteeing their reliability when you need them most.

Prioritizing safety gear is an integral part of responsible boating and water sports participation.

Walk Around 

Once you have ensured that the engine, battery, and safety gear are in sailing condition, take a tour outside the boat. Check for any unwanted damage and make sure the hardware is all good to go. 

Even if you didn’t find any significant scratches or hardware trouble, remember that this can affect the look of your boat, making the difference between a boat looking brand new or a pretty old one. 

Follow The Nebraska Regulations

Make sure you follow your state’s boat regulations. For Nebraska, all boats have to be registered with the Game & Parks Commission. Basically, this means that you’ll need to ask if the boat you are considering buying already has a certificate of number and follows all the proper regulations.

It’s the law! So be sure to take care of that registration before hitting the water.


Ask For a Lake Test

Take a boat for a spin before you commit! Just like test driving a car, make sure you get a feel of the boat on the water and make sure it moves smoothly across the lakes.

At Valley Marine’s dealership, you can ask for a test drive of any and all of our showroom boats to make sure you are choosing the right one. 

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Any Questions 

This is your investment, your money, so you want to make sure you are fully aware of what you’re buying. Before making any decisions, ask for all the specs of the boat you’re interested in. This includes the length, weight, engine type, fuel usage, and any history the boat has. 

Don’t hesitate to request trials or ask questions. Compare with other boats on the market and make sure you are buying the right boat for you. 

Come to Valley Marine and Find the Perfect Used Boat

Finding a reputable boat dealership is the most important part of buying a boat. Still wondering where that could be? If you live in Omaha or any part of the Midwest, come to Valley Marine!

At Valley Marine, we are more than just a dealership; we are a community of boaters. We understand the thrill of cruising on the open water, the joy of weekend lake adventures, and the tranquility of relaxing days spent fishing or sunbathing on deck. We know because we’ve lived it.

So, why spend any more time learning how to buy a used boat on your own? Allow us to share our expertise and passion with you. Our boat dealership has a full variety of used and new boats for you to test drive. Our team of water enthusiasts is ready to answer any questions you might have. 

Don’t waste more time learning how to buy a used boat: At Vally Marine, we are boaters, just like you, so we understand the importance of getting the perfect boat for your lake adventures and relaxing days.