So, you’ve made up your mind and decided you want to purchase a pontoon boat.
It’s important to ask the right questions when buying a used pontoon boat.
You don’t want to get screwed over. Sellers will not always be completely transparent with you to hide flaws and sell you their rubbish. This makes it vital to ask the right questions and find out everything about the boat before you invest in it.
You also want to make sure you get the best deal possible. To do so, you need to dig deep into each boat you look at. The saying goes “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, the same applies to boats. A boat may look great but once you open it up, you could find a load of problems.
Knowing what questions to ask is only the beginning. What good is the information if you don’t know what to do with it? I’ll tell you exactly what you want to hear, and what you don’t want to hear.
It’s also important to know what to avoid when buying a pontoon boat.
Questions to Ask When Buying A Used Boat
Question 1: How Many Hours Have Been Put on The Engine?
Knowing how many hours have been put onto the engine of a pontoon boat is extremely important.
This just like when you’re buying a car, you want to know how much mileage it’s done. You would never buy a used car without knowing its mileage, so why would you with a pontoon boat?
If the seller claims that they don’t know the the hours, this shows a lot about how they maintain their boat. It’s not a good sign, this shows negligence. Any good boat owner understands how important boat maintenance is.
Sellers should run their boat through a mechanical check to get a report on the boats hours before they put it up for sale. If they can tell you the hours, they should be able to backup their claims with a report.
Personally, I would always avoid purchasing a boat from someone who cannot even provide me with the boat’s hours.
Despite this, boat hours are not the most important thing when it comes to buying a used pontoon boat. A boat can have a high number of hours but if it’s been taken care of and maintained properly, it can run like new.
If the boat has a high number of hours, then it just makes it more important to carry out a thorough inspection and analysis. If you’re not qualified to do this, get someone who is, so that they can have a look at it instead.
Question 2: What’s the condition of the engine?
Besides the hours, you’ll also want to check on the condition of the engine itself.
The seller should make you aware of anything worth noting regarding the engine such as leaks, recent repairs and its physical condition.
If the seller doesn’t seem to give you any details, I’d be very suspicious. When someone says everything’s perfect, it’s likely not the case. Dig deeper by asking the following questions:
- Have you made any repairs recently?
- Are there any signs of a leak?
- Is there work to be done on the engine?
- How well does the motor run?
These are some good questions to ask when buying any type of boat. Asking these smaller questions allow you to dig deeper into the condition of the engine. Anything the boat seller may be trying to hide will have to be answered for here.
If there’s a water leak or any signs of damage, I’d likely avoid purchasing the boat to avoid hassle. Though, if the price is good then you could have a professional have a look at it to judge how much a repair will cost. A leak could be caused by a freeze plug not being in place properly, in-proper winterization, and much more.
Also have a look at the engine yourself and inspect how clean it is. This will tell you a lot about how the previous owner maintained their pontoon. If it’s really dirty, then they obviously didn’t care for it that much and I’d likely avoid it unless everything else was perfect.
Question 3: What’s the condition of the interior?
You should make sure you do a good job at inspecting the interior yourself. Look for any cracks, scratches, burns, any signs of general wear and tear. Though these may not be serious, they show how well the original owner maintained the boat. Also, this is a good bargaining chip to get the price lowered slightly to compensate for minor repair costs.
When you ask for the condition of the interior, it’s important for the seller to be transparent with you. If they tell you it’s spotless, it’s very likely they’re being dishonest as every used pontoon boat should have some signs of wear and tear.
“What condition is flooring in?”
If the owner tells you that there is some mold growing in the carpet, this may sound alarming however it’s not that bad. I have a guide on how to remove mold and mildew from your boat’s interior. You can find it by Clicking Here.
With that said, if instead of carpet, it’s a wooden floor that’s growing mold then you may have a problem. A rotting floor will be significantly more expensive to repair/replace than a carpet. In this case, you may want to avoid the purchase or bargain for a lower price so that you can pay for repairs.
It’s always important to do your own checks as sellers aren’t always honest. You can check for a rotting floor yourself by walking up and down the deck. You should be looking for any areas that feel softer than the rest. This is a giveaway that the floor has started rotting, even if it’s just a small area it can spread quickly.
Some crafty sellers may notice some rot and immediately try to sell the boat as soon as possible before it spreads. This means you should be thorough and keep an eye out for even the smallest sign of rot.
If you do find out that the floor is rotting and you can negotiate a better price which will allow you to repair the floor; I have a guide in which I discuss how you can fix your rotted boat floor.
“What condition is the seating in?”
Next thing to ask about is the seating.
Pontoon boat seats are not cheap at all and therefore can be a very expensive repair. This makes it very important that you find out what condition the seats are in and if they’re going to require any attention.
It’s common to find some mildew growing on vinyl seats if they haven’t been used in a while.
With the right products you can clean the mildew of your seats in minutes so it’s nothing to stress or be alarmed about. I’ve created a detailed guide on how to clean mildew off vinyl pontoon seats.
Though you should be alarmed if the seats have cuts and deep scratches in them. They may need to be reupholstered or replaced. This could be very expensive.
You could possibly reupholster the seats yourself however I’d always recommend leaving such work to a professional unless you have experience.
Question 4: “What will you use the boat for?”
Firstly, understand what you will be using the boat for. What’s the purpose for buying the boat in the first place?
Everyone has their own reasoning behind buying a boat, it’s important that you understand yours. It will be a lot easier for you to buy a boat when you know what you’re looking for.
If you have a family and your primary purpose for the pontoon boat is for watersports then you’ll need to make sure you get a boat with the sufficient speed capabilities for watersports. It will need to have enough horse power to pull of the stunts you desire.
Towable tubing with the family can be great fun, however you need to make sure your boat is fast enough to make the most out of the activity.
If you intend on using the boat for fishing, then speed isn’t as important of a factor. In this case, you may want to focus more on the materials of the boat. For example, if you are fishing in saltwater then it’d be a good idea to get a boat with a hull made of fiberglass. Also, your boat would benefit from a closed cooling and flushing system to better clear the engine.
You’d also want specific features such as a high fuel capacity, storage space and strong construction. Boat accessories such as rod holders and Bimini tops are also a bonus.
If your main purpose for buying a pontoon boat is simply for relaxing purposes, then comfortability is the most important factor. You want a boat that you’re comfortable in and can see yourself cruising in for hours. This makes it important that your boat is spacious enough that you don’t feel cramped. You’ll also want high quality luxury seats.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Pontoon Boat
Before you invest a large amount of money into anything you should always evaluate all your options and make sure that you can justify spending the money.
You don’t want to regret your purchase a few months down the line. Always make sure that you’ll be satisfied after your purchase.
Cost of owning a Pontoon Boat
Something like a pontoon boat is very unlikely to make you money and will only lose you money, therefore it’s an expense rather than an asset. I have an article in which I go in-depth into the cost of owning a boat. This is something you’ll want to read before you buy a pontoon boat. Click Here, to view the article. It will provide you with a lot of value.
Things which will cost you money in the long-term:
- Annual Mooring Fees
- Boat Trailer
- Boat Insurance
- Boat Fuel
As well as these, there are a lot of extra costs. If you’re interested in what other costs can include, read the article linked above.
Cost of Purchasing a Pontoon Boat
We can’t forget one of the most important factors, the upfront cost of the actual boat itself. You need to make sure you can afford to make the purchase. Don’t spend every cent in your account, you’ll need to have money to fall back on.
I’ve created a guide in which I discuss how much pontoon boats cost on average. This is a mandatory read before you decide to buy a pontoon boat. You can find this guide by Clicking Here.
Where To Find Boats For Sellers
There are many places to find used pontoon boats.
I find the best way to get the most out of my money is to use websites as you can get thousands of results in one click. Most websites will have a filter option so that you can narrow down your options to skip the rubbish and find exactly what you want. From there you can get the contact details of sellers and ask the questions I’ve mentioned above.
Renting Versus Owning
An alternative to owning a boat is renting one. This could be a much better option depending on your circumstances. There is no straightforward answer as to which is better, it all comes down to the individual. I’ll mention a few of the benefits and drawbacks to renting as opposed to owning.
The biggest benefit to renting a boat is that you don’t have to pay an extremely heavy expense at once, instead you pay in smaller, manageable increments whenever you need to use the boat.
Renting is a great for boating novices who are not sure if the boating lifestyle is for them. Just like some people rent a supercar before they purchase it. You can also view renting a boat as a trial run.
There is no need for regular maintenance chores. Because you’ll be returning the boat straight away after use, you don’t have to worry about the time and cost that goes into the maintenance of a boat. Most of the time you don’t even have to wash it – the owner will be more than happy to do this after he receives his boat back.
It’s very much possible that you’ll spend more money in the long-term if you’re renting a boat regularly. Though, if you don’t need the boat very often and only plan on using it a few times a year then this drawback is negated as you’ll save money by renting.
Because you don’t own the boat and it’s not yours, you won’t experience the pride of owning your own boat. Similarly, to renting and owning a supercar, the feeling of pride that boat ownership gives you is something difficult to explain. Renting also involves missing out on the opportunity to name your pontoon boat.
Just as much as there’s important questions to ask a boat seller when buying a pontoon boat, there’s also important questions that you should be asking yourself before you buy a pontoon boat.
There you have it, the absolute most important questions to ask when buying a pontoon boat.
I’ve provided you with a few questions, as well as a handful of considerations.
I hope this guide was more than useful to use and will ensure you get the best deal possible.
Please take the time and share this post on social media and pass the word to those who may be looking to purchase a boat sometime soon.
I appreciate and try to respond to all comments so if you have anything you want to ask, leave a comment down below.
My name Is Larry Noel, the voice behind BoatCrunch.
I’m a boating enthusiast that loves nothing more than being out on the water. So much so that I’ve acquired a Degree in Marine Biology (MB) as well as a degree in Ocean Engineering (OE).
I’m very familiar with a wide range of different boats and I’ve owned a variety of different boats myself however I have a particular obsession with Pontoon boats. I’ve lived all across the United States and always kept company in the form of boats and now my loving family.