Buying a used boat

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jhnmdahl
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Buying a used boat

Post by jhnmdahl » Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:58 pm

Guidelines:
Must have title for boat and trailer - no deal without both!
Ask for maintenance records - this can tell you much about how a boat was maintained
Check pricing relative to similar boats, either locally or online via boattrader.com or similar reference (compare boats in similar condition, as condition matters at least as much as age)

Exterior:
Hull Finish: Look for cracks, spidering, blisters, or other defects. Check hull integrity by knocking and listening for hollow sound or fiberglass that is not firm
Deck: Check hull to deck joint for separation. If wood/plywood is used, check for splits, cracking, or delamination
Moldings/Trim: Look for split or cracking wood, pitted or corroded metal, other defects requiring replacement or indicating poor maintenance
Hardware: Look for pitted or corroded metal, make sure hardware is functional and moves freely
Rub Rail: Look for dents or other marks indicating a collision or rough handling
Cushions: Look for split or worn-through vinyl, fading or chalking indicating damage from sunlight (possibly stored uncovered)
Windshield: Look for cracks or scratched/hazy areas
Fittings: Look for streaking or other signs of leaks around plugs, bolts, and other through-hull fittings. Check under any hatches for signs of leakage

Operating Gear:
Engine: Have a mechanic review, or test compression, check hours, inspect motor mounts, look for oil leaks, inspect spark plugs, check for spark arrestor on carburetor, fuel pump, alternator, ensure engine runs smoothly and starts easily, ensure water pump is operating properly (check tell-tale; varies with engine)
Outdrive: Ensure no leaks in hull around mounting hole, ensure mounting is tight and secure, check bellows for leaks, check skeg or trim tab/sacrificial anode, check gear oil for whitish mayonnaise consistency (indicates water infiltration)
Steering: Ensure steering moves freely
Shifting: Ensure that boat shifts smoothly from neutral to forward and reverse, and operates correctly
Propeller: Look for nicks, cracks, or other damage that may indicate a propeller is no longer balanced or may fail
Battery: Check date on battery (6-8 years is a reasonable life expectancy), ensure water/acid level is adequate, battery doesn't leak, provides sufficient power to start the boat easily
Wiring: Ensure wiring is not corroded and appears neat and professional (marine-grade wire)
Bilge, blower: Operate to ensure that blower works, and bilge pumps water efficiently
Fuel tank and lines: Check for leaks, look for cracks or spidering in lines and plastic tanks, ensure fittings operate freely and don't leak
Electronics: Operate all electronics to ensure functionality, including lights, horn,

Trailer:
Brakes: Visually inspect brakes for pad thickness and condition, verify operation if possible
Material/Condition: Galvanized or Aluminum, check for corrosion, rust, deterioration of paint or powder coat, etc.
Wheels: Do they spin freely without noise or play? Do the wheels wobble when spun?
Winch: Ensure winch operates easily, and rope or strap is in good condition
Wiring/Lights: Ensure lights work (brakes, turn signals, and night lights), and wiring is neatly done and protected from road debris
Tires: Look for cracks or spidering, and amount of tread left on tires. Check spare and spare mount if provided.
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kettcb
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Re: Buying a used boat

Post by kettcb » Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:07 am

Aren't there some states that don't title boats?

jhnmdahl
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Re: Buying a used boat

Post by jhnmdahl » Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:10 am

Yes, quite a few, although it looks like more states are moving toward titles. Keep in mind, if you buy a boat from someone who doesn't own it, you don't own the boat - no matter how much you paid. At a minimum, I'd ask for a bill of sale showing that the seller bought the boat, and check for liens on the boat with the state (and surrounding states, and coast guard documented boat registry) if spending a large amount of cash on a boat.

I found a few resources, but don't know how up-to-date they are:

States that require titles (and for what boats): http://www.boattitleanswers.com/2008/07 ... ing-state/

States with titles under some circumstances (e.g. a lien on the boat): http://www.boattitleanswers.com/2008/07 ... t-titling/

John
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tymu
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Re: Buying a used boat

Post by tymu » Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:10 pm

Or pay a good shop to check it out and tell you about it

Skiingstrongman
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Re: Buying a used boat

Post by Skiingstrongman » Wed Oct 12, 2016 5:14 am

John a quick update to that list CT now requires a title on boats with the model year 2017 or newer.

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