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Buying a boat is a huge purchase, especially if you are just wanting to get into boating, so I get asked a lot about when the best time to buy one is. Does the time of year really affect boat prices? Can you find a better deal a the end of the year, or “off-season”? In this article, we are going to take a look at when the most optimal time of year is to buy a boat, new or used.

When is the best time of year to buy a boat? The best time of year to buy a used boat, is in the offseason of boating, during the winter months of November to January. During these months, people are not usually using their boats, or are looking for extra Christmas money for their family. If you are looking at a new boat, December is usually the best month because dealers are wanting to get rid of older stock so that they have room for the new year’s models. Dealers can only have a set amount of boats on their lot, and if they have old stock, there is no room for new year models on their lots.

Can You Get A Better Deal At A Boat Show

Boat shows are a great place to go and see all the different types of boats on the market by retailers. Usually, boat dealers will only have a few models on each lot, so a boat show is a good for only having to drive to one place to see all models. You will normally not find used boats at boat shows, so plan on buying a new model if you go. You can ask tons of questions, and gain a lot more knowledge on different boats and cons, so do not be afraid to ask as many questions that you have or want. Do not be afraid to talk to different dealers and walk away, remember that all they want to do is sell you their boats, so they might say anything you want to hear for a sale.

Know Your Towing Limits

Before even going to look at a boat, it is important to know what your vehicle can tow. You can find this by opening the driver’s door and looking on on the jam of the door for a metal plate that will have all the information about your vehicle’s weight and towing capacity on it. Trucks will almost always have the highest towing capacity, but SUV’s and cars can also have tow hitches. Keep in mind that just because you have a tow hitch on your vehicle, you can tow anything. There are a lot of people that will pay to have a dealer add a tow hitch to their care at the dealership, even when a car is not meant to tow. My wife’s Acura MDX can have a tow hitch added for about $1k dollars, but this does not mean it should tow anything.

Look At The Engine

When looking for a used boat, always check the engine, or engine compartment for any cracks, leaks or sludge. You can tell a lot about why a person is selling a boat by looking at the engine. If there is oil everywhere, or worse sludge, you may want to pass on the boat, or try and get them to give you money off the price to get the boat checked out by a boat mechanic. Not checking the engine could cost you thousands or more if you buy it.

Check The Trailer

You can tell a lot about a boat and boat driver by what their trailer looks like. If you go to check out a boat, and see that there is missing tail lights, or dings and dents in the trailer, you can bet that they were not paying attention while driving. If you see loose wires hanging down, you can almost guarantee you will have a light or wiring problem when you hook it up. Make sure that you do not see any brake dust, or sludge coming from tires, and make sure that there is no sun damage to the tires from sitting in the sun. Good boat owners know to cover their wheels when a trailer is sitting. Check the springs to make sure there is nothing broken that would cause your boat to sit slanted, or anything that might scratch the belly of the boat.

Ask Them To Start The Motor Or Test Drive

Depending on where you live, and how close to a body of water you are, it is totally acceptable to ask a seller to take their boat out for you test drive it. If you ask them to test drive the boat, and they say no, I would question them further or pass on the sale because they might be hiding something. If you are buying a boat that is hours from water, you can buy a suction cup system that will push water through the engine, so you can start it at their house. Anyone who does not let you want to hear or see the boat run, is probably hiding something, and the better deal is down the road.

Maintenance Questions

When it comes to talking to a seller of a used boat, do not be afraid to grill them on questions, as long as you are nice. Here is a list of questions you might want to know before buying a boat:

  • How often did you get maintenance done?
  • Did you winterize it every year?
  • How often did you change the belts?
  • How often did you get electrical connections re-done?
  • Did you take it to lakes, rivers, or the ocean?
  • How often did they replace trailer tires?
  • How many times did they replace the brakes?
  • Did they ever have fiberglass or aluminum repairs done?
  • Do they have maintenance records?

If you are buying a new boat, ask the dealer if the purchase comes with a maintenance schedule included, or if it costs each time you go.

Ask Them Where They Took The Boat

Anytime I buy a boat, I always ask the sellers where they took the boat, and what they did with it. Did they go fishing, or did they only take their family out to tube and ski? Did they take it to the local lake, or did they tow it hours to go to more popular places? Knowing this will tell you how much real drive time the boat has had on it, and how much it was used. If you know it was used for skiing and camping, you can almost guarantee that it was driven up onto the shore to hang out, so you will want to check the fiberglass.

Final Thoughts

Buying a boat can be extremely stressful, but knowing when to buy a boat, and the right questions to ask can make buying a boat simple and very painless on you. Do not EVER be afraid to ask the seller, or dealer as many questions as you want. Anyone that fears to answer your questions, is generally not knowledgable of the boat, or does not want to tell you something, so be careful.

Related Topics

How Much Does It Cost To Store A Boat?

On average, to store a boat on a lot behind a gate and fence will cost you anywhere from $59 to $129 dollars per month depending on what services they offer. Some places will offer covered parking, while others make you park your boat in the sun. Very high-end boat storage will actually clean, cover and store your boat in a big warehouse, and will take them out for you with advance notice.

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