How To Buy A Used Pontoon Boat

Buying a used pontoon boat is an excellent way to enjoy the water without breaking the bank. Knowing what to look for and understanding the process can help you make an informed decision that will provide years of enjoyment. In this article, we’ll cover all the steps necessary to find and buy a used pontoon boat that fits your needs and budget. From researching different models and styles, setting a budget, inspecting the boat in person, considering insurance and maintenance, to taking a test drive – we’ll explain everything you need to know so you can buy with confidence.

Research Different Models and Styles

With so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to find the perfect model for your dream day on the water! Doing research is an important step in buying a used pontoon boat. Before making any decisions, take time to review different models and styles of boats. Comparing prices and warranties between models also helps you make an informed decision that meets your needs.

Gather information online through manufacturer websites and compare boats with similar features at different price points. Additionally, consider customer reviews from websites like or Boat Trader as these provide helpful insight into how the boat performs on the water. Ask about insurance coverage for older boats too; what kind of warranty does it have? Knowing this information ahead of time can help you make an informed decision when purchasing a used pontoon boat.

Finally, when choosing a pontoon boat, think about its intended use: are you looking for something comfortable for entertaining guests or do you need something more rugged to handle rougher waters? Consider where it will be stored: indoors or outdoors? And finally, determine your budget—it’s best to set aside some extra funds just in case there are hidden costs down the line when repairing or maintaining the boat. With careful research and proper planning, you’ll be able to find a great used pontoon boat that fits within your budget and meets all your needs!

Set a Budget

Figuring out your finances is key when it comes to purchasing a pre-owned watercraft. Setting expectations and considering costs are two important factors to take into account before you commit to buying a pontoon boat. To set your budget, consider the cost of the boat itself, as well as any necessary add-ons such as an engine, accessories and fuel tanks. You should also think about potential additional costs that may come up in the future due to repairs or upgrades.

In addition to the initial purchase price, there are other fees associated with owning a used pontoon boat that must be taken into consideration. These include registration and titling fees, insurance premiums, storage fees, maintenance costs and fuel expenses. It’s also important to factor in any taxes you may be liable for on the purchase and use of your pre-owned vessel.

When setting your budget for a used pontoon boat, it’s best to err on the side of caution by adding some extra funds for unexpected repair costs that may arise down the road. Additionally, if you plan on using your pontoon boat frequently or plan long trips away from shore then make sure you have enough money allocated towards fuel expenses so they don’t become an issue later on down the line.

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Inspect the Boat in Person

When you inspect the boat in person, it’s important to check for any damage before taking it out on the water. Make sure to test both the outboard motors and perform a float test to ensure the boat is safe and seaworthy. Finally, don’t forget to inspect all other essential parts of the boat such as seats, flooring, and railings.

Check for Damage

Carefully inspect the vessel; look for any signs of damage. Look for dents, scratches, or cracks in the hull and deck. Check to see if there are any missing or loose boards on the decking, as well as any exposed nails. Examine all areas of the boat carefully; including all corners, edges, and seams. Pay attention to areas that may be vulnerable to wear and tear such as around cleats and rails. Have a close look at any upholstery; make sure there are no rips or tears in it. Lastly, review the records of maintenance work done on the pontoon boat; compare prices with other boats similar to this one so you can get an idea of what is fair market value.

Test Outboard Motors

Test the outboard motors to ensure they are functioning properly before making a purchase. Evaluate fuel economy by monitoring how much fuel is used when running the motor for a period of time. Compare brands and models to make sure you have chosen the best one for your boat. When testing, pay attention to how smoothly the engine runs and check that all control systems on the helm are in working order. Inspect any cables or wires running from the helm to the motor and make sure they are securely fastened and undamaged.

If possible, try taking the boat out on open water so you can test it at higher speeds and get an accurate assessment of its performance. Look for signs of excessive vibration, which could be caused by misalignment or poor quality materials used in construction. Make sure all safety features such as kill switches, fire extinguishers, life jackets, flares, etc., are onboard and in good condition before committing to your purchase.

Perform a Float Test

Now that you’ve tested out the outboard motors, it’s time to perform a float test. This will help you determine the age of your pontoon boat and check its buoyancy. To start, make sure the pontoon is moored in calm water with no currents or waves. Next, board the vessel and walk around to inspect it for any visible signs of damage or wear. If everything looks in order, take note of how the pontoon sits in the water by observing where the hull meets the surface. The entire boat should be just above or at water level; any large portions dipping into the water may indicate issues with buoyancy.

Consider Insurance and Maintenance

Consider insurance to protect your investment, and plan for regular maintenance to keep it running smooth. When buying a used pontoon boat, review all the paperwork, including previous owner’s proof of insurance that covers any accidents or damage. You can also get an estimate of the cost of insurance by contacting your local agent. Additionally, evaluate the costs associated with maintenance and upkeep. This includes checking for parts that may need replacing such as filters and pumps. Be sure to inspect all safety features such as life jackets and fire extinguishers as well.

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You should also consider storage options for when you are not using your pontoon boat. Many marinas offer winter storage packages which include haul-out and launching services at a reasonable rate. If you plan on keeping the boat in your own garage or driveway, make sure it is properly secured from potential theft or vandalism. Additionally, if you live in a region where freezing temperatures occur during winter months, there are certain steps you must take to ensure that the engine does not freeze due to water remaining inside its components; consult with a professional mechanic about these measures before storing your pontoon boat away each season.

It is important to be aware of both short-term and long-term costs associated with maintaining ownership of a used pontoon boat so you know what kind of commitment financially you will be making down the road. Familiarizing yourself with these aspects ahead of time can save money in both unexpected repairs and additional expenses related to insurance coverage or storage fees later on down the line.

Take a Test Drive

If you’ve found the right vessel for you, take it out on the water and get a feel for how she runs – it’s sure to be an exciting experience! Before taking off, review your options and check the features of the boat. Make sure that all safety equipment is present and in working order; you should also ensure that all necessary documents are available. Check any accessories such as special electronics or navigation systems. Take note of any issues that may need to be addressed before purchasing.

Once on the water, pay close attention to how well your pontoon boat handles. Give her a good test run; take some turns at low speeds and then faster speeds to test maneuverability. Make sure to observe if all systems perform as expected from start up until shut down, including switching between gears and operating lights or other accessories onboard. Note anything that seems off so you can discuss this with the seller later on if needed.

Finally, consider how comfortable it is during your drive—especially if other people will be using it with you in the future—and if there’s enough storage space for whatever gear or items you’ll need while cruising around in your new pontoon! Enjoy getting out on open waters and testing out your potential purchase – just remember safety first!

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should I expect to pay for a used pontoon boat?

When you’re looking to purchase a used pontoon boat, you should expect to pay anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000 depending on the year and condition. It’s important to inspect the boat thoroughly before making a purchase; check for any signs of wear and tear, rusting or water damage. Don’t forget to have a mechanic inspect the engine and other mechanical components as well. If possible, take the boat out for a test drive to get an accurate sense of its performance.

What paperwork do I need to complete the purchase?

When buying a used pontoon boat, there are some important documents that need to be completed in order to ensure the purchase is legally binding. You will need an invoice of sale, which typically includes information such as the buyer and seller’s name and address, date of the transaction, description of the boat including make and model, price paid for the boat, and any additional statements or warranties. Additionally, you may need to provide proof of insurance coverage in order to register your boat with local authorities. If you’re planning on financing your purchase, you’ll also need to provide proof of loan approval from a financial institution. Taking care of these paperwork requirements before completing the sale can help make sure everything goes smoothly when buying a used pontoon boat.

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What should I do to prepare the boat for use?

When preparing a used pontoon boat for use, the first step is to inspect the engine. Check all hoses and belts, and ensure that the fuel system is functioning correctly. Make sure you understand any maintenance costs associated with owning a boat before you purchase it. Oil levels should be checked regularly and have them changed as necessary. Additionally, it’s important to check all additional components of the boat such as the steering wheel, throttle control, bilge pump, live well pumps, etc., for any potential damages or issues that may need repair or replacement.

What safety precautions should I take when operating the boat?

When operating a boat, safety should be the top priority. Ensure that you have all the necessary safety gear on board like life jackets and fire extinguishers, and that it is in proper working order. Additionally, make sure to check your boat for any potential hazards or maintenance issues before each use. Make sure that all of your navigation lights are working properly and check the engine oil level regularly. Lastly, never operate your boat when under the influence of drugs or alcohol as this can put yourself and others at risk.

Are there any common issues to look out for when buying a used pontoon boat?

When buying a used pontoon boat, it is important to review the records of the boat’s maintenance and operation history. Additionally, inspecting the hull can help you identify any wear and tear that could be indicative of underlying issues. It is also important to look out for any signs of corrosion or staining on the exterior of the boat as this might indicate water damage or other repairs that may have been done on the vessel. Make sure to check all the safety features such as life vests, fire extinguishers, and navigation equipment. Finally, make sure to have a qualified marine mechanic inspect your potential new pontoon before you complete your purchase.


Buying a used pontoon boat can be an exciting experience. You’ve done your research and found the perfect boat for you. Now, it’s time to make sure it’s in good condition before you buy. Inspect the boat in person, take a test drive, and consider insurance and maintenance costs. With these steps completed, you’ll have peace of mind that your purchase is just what you wanted. Congratulations on your new pontoon boat! Make sure to keep up with regular maintenance to ensure it continues working well for years to come.

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