Savvy Tips for Buying a Used Boat

Aug 8, 2022 2 min read

Choosing a used boat can save you a lot of money but buying used can come with risks. You want to make sure you’re getting a good value for your dollars, with no hidden expenses.

One thing to consider when buying a boat is the best time of year to make a purchase. Conventional wisdom says you’ll get a better deal at the end of the season. That’s often true, but don’t wait too long. Once a boat owner has paid to winterize and store a boat for the off-season, they may not want to sell it until the spring when they might get a higher price. Also, depending on your climate, once winter sets in you might not be able to take the boat out for a test run.

When you go to actually find a boat to purchase, you can look at boat dealerships, websites such as and, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, or marina or boat club notice boards. Once you’ve found a boat you’re interested in, ask the seller these questions so you have a better understanding of the boat’s quality and condition.

11 Questions to Ask the Seller When Buying a Used Boat

  1. What year were the boat and the motor manufactured? Are there any warranties in effect? If so, can they be transferred to a new owner?
    Why: A warranty can offset the cost of any unexpected repairs while it’s in effect.
  2. How many hours has the motor been run?
    Why: Hours on a motor are like miles on a car — older motors will generally have more hours on them.
  3. When was the boat serviced? What repairs have you needed? Can I see the servicing records? If not, can I contact the shop where the service was performed?
    Why: A well-maintained boat is less likely to need repairs.
  4. How much do you typically spend on maintenance, fees, gas and storage?
    Why: You’ll want to have a feel for the costs you’ll face beyond the boat’s purchase price.
  5. Do you take the boat out in saltwater? 
    Why: Boats and motors that run in saltwater need to be well-rinsed after every outing since the salt can damage them.
  6. Are you the original owner of the boat and motor? If not, how long have you owned it? 
    Why: A boat with a lot of previous owners raises questions about why no one has kept it for long.
  7. How do you store the boat in the off-season? 
    Why: Ideally, you want a boat that’s winterized and stored indoors when it’s not being used for a long time.
  8. Is everything included? 
    Why: You’ll want to know if navigation equipment, fishing gear, the trailer, safety equipment and other items are part of the package.
  9. When was the last time you used the boat? 
    Why: A boat that’s been stored properly can go unused for a long time. One open to the elements can deteriorate.
  10. Why are you selling the boat? 
    Why: People sell boats for lots of reasons, but if someone hesitates or can’t give you a good answer, that could be a sign they’re trying to unload a boat that has problems.
  11. Can I test it in the water? 
    Why: Taking a boat for a test drive can give you a feel for it and help you decide if it’s right for you.

Look to Farm Bureau to Cover Your Boat

When you buy a boat, you’ll need to protect it with insurance. Talk to a Farm Bureau agent to learn how Farm Bureau can provide the coverage you need.

Used boat inspection checklist

Want to learn more?

Contact a local FBFS agent or advisor for answers personalized to you.