There are many advantages to buying a used pontoon boat rather than purchasing a new one off the showroom floor. Obviously, used pontoon boats are less expensive and give the shrewd buyer ample room for negotiation. Used pontoon boats have the lowest depreciation value. Often, sellers of used pontoon boats include pontoon accessories, such as radios, depth sounders, and other useful equipment for a mere fraction of their original cost. However, there are some risks to buying used pontoon boats and you should know what to look for when mulling over a potential used pontoon boat purchase. Used pontoon boats will have normal wear and tear that might require repair or replacement parts or accessories that could raise the final cost somewhat. The great thing about pontoon boats, however, is that nearly everything can be replaced and customized, such as pontoon seats, furniture, accessories, carpet, tables, and decking. As long as a few fundamentals of the used pontoon boat are sound, you can add, replace, or renovate your pontoon boat with any number of quality components featured on our online store.
When buying a used pontoon, you must first decide if you want to deal with individual buyers or work with a dealer or broker. If you work with a dealer for your pontoon boat, be sure they are licensed by an applicable and reputable state or national industry boating association. This will guarantee that you receive a higher degree of customer service and professionalism. If you choose to deal with an individual seller, the risks and rewards are greater. You may not have a warranty to ensure the quality of the pontoon boat you purchase because you’re buying the boat "as is,” but you have a great deal more leeway to negotiate a lower price. If you buy a used pontoon boat from private seller, it is your responsibility alone to discern the quality of your purchase. Caveat emptor—let the buyer beware when purchasing from private individuals.
The single most important step you can take is to carefully and thoroughly inspect the hull of the pontoon. If the pontoon boat is on a trailer or on a platform, this is a simple task. Walk around the pontoon boat and look for any cracks or patches in the pontoons. Also, inspect the logs to make sure they are straightly positioned.
Run your hands over the laminate check for any cracks, bubbles, or other inconsistencies on the surface. Look for waves, wrinkles, or dips in the laminate that might indicate sub-par manufacturing. For any pontoon boat, check out where the hull meets the deck; if you spy any humps or hollows, these could point toward questionable workmanship and quality.
Sometimes the degree of quality workmanship is not readily apparent to the eye and must be judged by other professionals. The best indicator that you can rely on when inspecting a used pontoon boat is a sticker indicating certification by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). This sticker guarantees that the manufacturer underwent a rigorous factory inspection, used construction materials that met the American Boat & Yacht Council standards, and that the model of pontoon boat originally came equipped with approved necessities, such as fuel hoses, navigation lights, and bilge pumps that were certified by the NMMA. Boat manufacturers are not legally required to build or sell pontoon boats designed to meet NMMA standards, but those pontoon boats that do meet these rigorous requirements can almost be guaranteed to be of high quality.
If the pontoon boat is currently in the water and you want an inspection of the hull, you, as buyer, are expected to pay for the costs of moving the pontoon boat to land. You are strongly advised to pay this cost since a minimal investment for up-front inspection can save you a great deal of money in the long run. In addition, if you want to get financing for your pontoon boat, insurance companies will often require that you obtain a marine survey from a professional. There is little excuse for buying a pontoon boat without first seeing every inch of its hull.
The next step is to inspect the engine. Be sure to find out how many hours are on the engine. Ask the seller about any repairs he or she made to the engine and ask for repair receipts to substantiate the wear and tear already experienced by the engine.
Next, test the engine and the rest of the pontoon boat with a test drive on open waters. Let the engine warm up a bit to see if the engine might have start-up problems. Beware of the seller that already has the pontoon boat running when you arrive for your test-drive because this might indicate that they are attempting to hide something. Once out in the water, pay attention to how the pontoon boat maneuvers by executing both narrow and wide turns. Open up the throttle quite a bit to get an idea of how the pontoon boat responds at high speeds and slow it down to see how it maneuvers at slower speeds. Check to see if all the onboard gauges respond correctly and be sure that there are no problems with oil pressure. Stay out on the water as long as it takes so that you can be assured that the engine does not have overheating problems. After the test drive, see if there are any oil leaks around the bilge.
While taking the test drive, pay additional attention to factors that interplay with your personal needs. During the test drive, be sure to sit at the helm station to make sure that the station is compatible with your stature and provides you a full view of the horizon. You will want to make sure that the pontoon boat feels as good as it handles. Not only do you want to know that this pontoon boat is quality, but also that the vessel is right for you individually and suits your needs and purposes.
Before any money changes hands, take the commonsense step and be sure the seller can provide you with proof of ownership for the pontoon boat in question. Although it is rare, you want to make sure that you are not purchasing stolen property. If you go through a dealer or broker, this will not be an issue because it is their obligation to verify proof of ownership, but if you are dealing with a private seller it is better to be safe in the end and ask.
With some education and a bit of preparation, you can land a great deal on a used pontoon boat and save a great deal of cash. As long you can confirm that a few basic elements of a used pontoon boat are in good shape, you’ll be able to have confidence in your new purchase, keep more cash in your wallet, and enjoy worry-free days on relaxing open waters with your pontoon boat.