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Buying a Used Boat? Look For These Common Boat Problems

Posted by Boat Lover's Towel on

young couple inspects and cleans boat before buying

Before You Say Yes: Complete These Boat Maintenance Checks

Buying a boat secondhand can be a great way to find a quality vessel at a more affordable cost. But, to land a worthwhile deal, you’re going to have to give it a test run and proper inspection. This way, you can easily spot the following widespread boat problems and know what you’re getting into before you buy. If you’re unsure of where your standards need to be, ask a knowledgeable friend or mechanic to come along!

Compromised Engine

Come 15 minutes early to your test ride so you can pull the dip-stick and check the oil before the seller can try warming it up. Look to see if the oil looks milky, which means water is present, or if carbon coats the plugs. Listen to your engine before and during the trial run to ensure it’s running smooth.

Malfunctioning Pumps

Manually trigger the bilge pumps as well as other features supported by pumps such as washdowns or heads. This is because, even if you flip a switch to check a pump and it doesn’t respond, the float switch itself could otherwise be where the issue lies.

Faulty Electric System

Turn on all electrical switches and features one-by-one and all together while conducting your water trial. See if the wiring looks different at the fuse box and verify what electrical replacements took place and if they’ve been corrected. Keep an eye on the wiring as a whole and assert whether it looks organized too.

Wood Rot

If you’re considering purchasing an old wooden boat, you may see rot on untreated wood pieces. This usually comes in the form of large cracking around the edges of the transom. You might even notice rot as you walk across a seemingly spongey, bouncy deck.

Waterlogged Foam

Have the seller remove the heavier equipment from the ship and pay attention to whether your boat floats evenly and if the scuppers rest high above the waterline. If possible, bring a moisture meter and mallet on board to tap the corded areas of the boat you think may contain water: they’ll sound different than dry ones.

Stringer and Joint Separations

Concerning the boat’s mainstay, take a well-lit survey of the stringers to note damage or splitting from the hull. You can tell whether the hull-to-deck joint is separated from the ship if the rub rail is bent or broken. You’ll know the sealing is separated if you soak it all with a hose and water comes out around or in the bilge.

Cabin and Lower Unit Leaks

Spray a hose all along the boat and watch out for watermarks, or hatch, port, and seam leaks. If left unresolved, these leaks could lead to lower boat problems, such as milky lower unit oil. You can ask the seller to replace the lower unit oil yourself before agreeing to buy to know for sure.

Dirty Surfaces

Finally, it’ll be much easier to know what kind of boat maintenance is needed once you spruce it up with some cleaning. We highly suggest using The Absorber® drying towel. Its PVA material isn’t only super absorbent but also soft and non-abrasive to protect your new (used) boat. It’s even chemical-resistant and machine-washable to last you for years.


Visit here for more cleaning products to make the used boat yours. After all, life’s better on a clean boat!


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