Availability used to be one of the biggest limiting factors to your options when buying a used boat. Now, you don’t have to settle or even search too hard to get a great deal, because used boats are available all over the country. Searching for those deals online has never been easier. With such a large market and wide variety of boats (and sellers) to choose from, it’s critical to be able to identify a good deal before making your purchase. Here are our 5 tips to used bass boat buying.

  1.  Condition of fiberglass / aluminum
    Check the fiberglass all around the boat for chips, cracks, scratches, and stress fractures. If the boat is aluminum, look for scratches, dents, and popped rivets (if the boat has rivets). Scratches and dents can indicate how well (or poorly) the boat has been taken care of over the years. Was it run carelessly through shallow water, bouncing off rocks, stumps, sand, and mud? Or maybe consistently run hard through big waves? Because that can cause some serious structural damage to a boat. Some major blemishes may not be deal breakers, but it is important to make sure there is nothing catastrophically wrong with the structure of the hull.

    Check the condition of the gel coat and the carpet. This can give you an idea of how the boat was stored. For instance, a sun-faded gel coat and carpet likely means the boat was left outside and uncovered for a great deal of time.

    The wear and tear you see helps give you an idea of how the previous owners took care of the boat. This is your first indication if the price accurately reflects the condition of the boat in front of you.
  2. Condition of trailer
    The trailer may be easy to forget about when you’re really there to see the boat, but don’t forget you’re buying the trailer too. So always take a walk around the boat trailer. Is there rust? How do the tires look? Do all of the lights work properly? Is there grease on the rims from a leaking bearing? Each of these seemingly trivial items can cost you in repairs and replacement parts. (And take it from someone who’s dealt with faulty bearings too many times, it is no fun getting stuck on the side of the highway with smoke pouring out of a seized bearing!)

    At the end of the day, the trailer may not make or break your decision to purchase, but it’s still an aspect to consider.
  3. Number of engine hours
    One of the most important used bass boat buying tips is to know the number of hours on the engine. Similar to car mileage, the lower the better. Because boat motors with a lot of hours have a higher chance of “blowing up”. No one wants to pay the costly repairs to rebuild or even replace the powerhead.

    It’s hard to specify “high” engine hours. Because not all motors are made the same.  For instance, some motors can give a detailed break out of hours at different RPM ranges. This also can play a factor into how hard those hours were on the motor. Do some research on the specific make, model, and year of the motor you want to purchase. Then you can compare with the experience others have had. There are some motor models and years that buyers will avoid like the plague, no matter how few hours it might have. Research can save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run.
  4. Cylinder compression
    Hand-in-hand with engine hours, and perhaps even more important, is cylinder compression. The compression value of each cylinder speaks to the overall health of a motor. Low engine hours means nothing if the poor health of the motor indicates that it won’t be kicking much longer.

    A healthy engine should be wearing evenly, meaning each cylinder should be similar in psi. What is determined to be a good psi range will also depend on the make, model, and year of the motor, so again, be sure to do some research.

    If you have the mechanic know-how and the necessary equipment, you can check the compression yourself. However, it can’t hurt to have a mechanic look over the boat for you and ensure the condition of the motor to provide some reassurance.
  5. Performance on the water!
    It’s hard to believe but many people will buy a boat without ever taking it out on the water to test drive it. You likely wouldn’t buy a car without taking a spin around the block, right? Test driving is extremely important because you get a first hand experience on how the boat actually performs. You are taking a major gamble if you skip it.

    Once you get on the water, check all the following:
    – does the boat have any leaks
    – is there warnings/alarms going off when the motor is running
    – how does the motor sound, any rattling or knocking?
    – does the motor run with the power and top-end performance expected


Additionally, consider whether you are comfortable with the handling and ride quality of the boat. Each of these factors should confirm exactly what you’ve heard from the seller, and if not, they should indicate possible opportunities for price negotiation.

Fully inspecting the entire boat from bow to stern to motor will help paint a picture of how the boat was treated over the years. A proper evaluation can save you from throwing away hard-earned cash on a bad deal or unexpected repairs. 

Each of these five tips to buying a used bass boat should assist you in making a more confident decision on whether to purchase the boat, what price you feel comfortable paying for it, and if there are any immediate or future issues to fix once you get it home.

With so many great options already out there what are you waiting for? There truly has never been a better time to buy (or sell) a used bass boat. 


-BassBoat Marketplace is a nationwide online location to buy and sell bass boats-

BassBoat Marketplace
Author: BassBoat Marketplace

BassBoat Marketplace Is The One Stop Location For Buying And Selling Bass Boats Across The United States.