View Full Version : Buying a winterized boat in the winter

01-28-2011, 05:53 PM
What do people think about buying a boat during the winter that has been winterized? (Snow and ice, so test driving is not an option.) Would hiring a marine surveyor and throwing it on the fake-a-lake for a testing suffice?

Would it make a difference if the boat was being sold (brokerage) by a reputable dealer that knows the history, has done the service and attests to the condition.

Would it matter if the boat has only 120 hours and both the interior and gel coat almost flawless / brand new?

I'm a bit apprehensive, but feel like I have a possibility to score a good deal in the off-season.

east tx skier
01-28-2011, 06:06 PM
Marine surveyor, warranty, or wait until you can test drive. Bought my first boat in Feb. That was a cold test drive.

01-28-2011, 06:25 PM
Do you mean marine surveyor and warranty? Or one or the other?

What type of warranty can I negotiate? The issue I have is I would also be shipping the boat across the country. So the selling dealer wouldn't be able to do any work? It's brokerage anyway, so even if the seller were to agree, if needed, it might be a hassle.

I'm leaning toward waiting, but I'm also inclined to try to negotiate a good deal.

01-29-2011, 09:35 AM
I'd do it. If the condition and hours is as you describe, that takes away alot of the risk. I'd still run the engine on a hose to check for leaks and breifly engage the trans fwd and rev. Check the engine oil and trand oil for water intrusion and cleanliness of the trans fluid. If that all checks out, buy it.
The only things I think you'd be risking is the ballast pump operation or possible cracked tanks, which you could demo as well. Hook a hose to the extra port on the ballast manifold and fill empty the ballasts.
That leaves only high load trans problems or possible strut/shaft alignment problems at risk, but judging the condition of the boat and the OWNER can offset some of that.
Besides if it's a good deal that can offset some risk as well.
And re-winterize everything you put water into.
ANother option is finding a power plant lake that is not iced over if that's an option????????

Jeff Lyman
01-29-2011, 09:49 AM
I would do it to. I've taken gambles like this many times and come out fine for most. You can have the dealer buy a short term warrenty in your name to cover the hull and drive train with a small deductible. Then if all is ok your all set if not you contact the warrenty company and put in a claim....covered!

Every purchase is a gamble.

01-29-2011, 10:20 AM
I would do it to. I've taken gambles like this many times and come out fine for most. You can have the dealer buy a short term warrenty in your name to cover the hull and drive train with a small deductible. Then if all is ok your all set if not you contact the warrenty company and put in a claim....covered!

What companies underwrite short-term warranties like this? If they are anything like some of the 3rd part car warranties, they aren't really work the paper they're written on.

Should any dealer be able to provide this? Should I ask the dealer to work with a specific warranty company? What would the cost of something like this be?

01-29-2011, 10:38 AM
Having a compression test done is always a good plan. Usually comes out fine, but can save a person from a big surprise.

east tx skier
01-29-2011, 10:51 AM
If it's not local, the warranty seems like a lot of trouble that probably wouldn't bear fruit anyway. I'm a big fan of long test drives. My last one lasted well over an hour and involved me and the now previous owner taking ski sets. I have not found the deals to be head and shoulders better during times where it was too cold to get the boat on the water.

If you find the deal is too good to wait on, the best I can offer is wishing you the best of luck.

01-29-2011, 10:55 AM
I'd be comfortablei if it were a reputable dealer. Of course it's safer to wait for a test drive. Is it really such a good deal to ship across country?

01-29-2011, 12:46 PM
The last three I bought were without test drives but all were with boats under 135 hours and only 2 seasons old. It is a gamble but you can usually tell if someone's had problems and how the boat's been taken care. I'll also pay real close attention to the running gear, the engine and the trailer. It's not that hard to tell if the engine's been over heated or if someone's been tearing into it. Also look at general condition of the boat. Is it immaculate, just clean or does it look like some rich guy's kid has been tearing around in it. Your risk factor goes up as overall condition goes down.

Who owns it plays into it also. Is it a inboard dealer with a good reputation? Is it a repo? Does the guy have the documentation for the boat and a service history? I've started pulling a boat history report to check for liens, title problems and accident reports. It costs a few bucks but could save you a lot of trouble later. Just because I'll by a boat without a test drive doesn't mean I don't do a lot of homework before signing the check.

As for price... All of these boats were bought in late February or very early March right after the boat shows. Two of the three were from guys that needed to move their previous boat to make room from the one on order. The other was from a dealer that needed the boat gone so his client would make a switch to a new boat he wanted to sell him. I basically gave them $1K more than what the dealer was offering for trade which was a great deal for me and typically between $7K to $10K below market.

One last thing. If you don't know these boats or boats in general very well either get somebody who does or buy from a good dealer. I'll take these risks because I can do engine work, fix trailers and know inboards fairly well. If you're not then you're best off going a different direction.

01-29-2011, 12:55 PM
I've been holding off on putting my boat up for sale for this very reason. No interest in doing a test ride during the winter months and figured most buyers would want one, even if I was willing to give them a guarantee. You might ask if the seller would put in writing that the boat was in the condition they represent and that there were no known issues with the boat. That way, in the event there is a major hidden issue, you would have a very easy case of active fraud under most State's fraud statutes.

I'd have the boat checked out thoroughly, including the shaft alignment. Make sure they haven't hit anything.

01-29-2011, 02:15 PM
I'm not taking the word of any boat or car dealer. Sorry to say that, but I've had experiences over the years that proves a dealer (not ALL dealers) will say what ever they need to make the deal. If I can't put the boat in the water and test it as I will be using it, check all functions, I'm not willing to risk it. You could end up getting a deal on a great boat, but I wouldn't do it.

01-29-2011, 08:03 PM
I would have to say I would not buy without a test drive. Certainly a warranty would make me less apprehensive.

But, to "dewinterize" and "winterize" a boat takes 5 to 10 minutes at most. It is not like you need to repeat the annual maintenance tasks to winterize it again. Just make it safe from freezing. If it is a dealer, his technical staff should be able to do it in less than 5 minutes. We do it about 8 times a year as we ride in the colder weather.

So if it is a dealer, and they do not want to let you test drive it because it is winterized, I would be suspicious. A private seller being hesitant I can understand.

01-29-2011, 10:49 PM
I bought my first MC at the ripe age of 20, in the middle of August, with no test drive or even hearing the engine run. Got 24 years of trouble free use out of that boat. And came to find out that the dealer (non-MC) gave me a decent deal on the boat, even though I was clueless.

Bought a Nissan Xterra for my daughter on Ebay. The test drive consisted of driving the vehicle from OKC to Wichita, after I owned it. Been a great car for her for 2 years now, no problems.

Bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee for my son locally. Checked it out pretty good. Put about 40 miles on it test driving. Bought it, found problems once I got it home. More problems within 6 months. Still, its about what I expected for the money.

My point? Used car or boat purchases are a gamble. A test drive won't "test" everything. And even if it checks out today, something could go out tomorrow. If its a good deal, I say buy it.

01-30-2011, 08:55 AM
Have a survey done including compression test, running engine on a hose and make sure the seller winterizes it afterward. Money well spent. THEN if it all checks out, negotiate your best price! Many times a surveyor will spot items that need attention so you can ask for a better deal.

Where is the boat located?