4 Hidden Issues with Used Boats

With spring rapidly approaching, it’s time to start taking your boat buying venture seriously. If you’re in the market for a used boat, there are a few things you should consider before signing on the dotted line. While these vessels are less expensive than their brand-new counterparts, used boats can have a variety of issues that need to be addressed up front. In addition to securing your boat with a customized Boat Insurance Program, heed the following advice.

Engine issues.

As the most severe issue, this tops the list for potential used boat concerns. Before buying, look at the dip stick to ensure the oil is not milky- this means that there is water inside the oil tank. Next, be sure to check that the plugs are not encased in carbon. Lastly, show up early so you can hear how the boat adjusts when being warmed up before the test drive. If you aren’t sure what to look and listen for, bring a trusted friend who does.

Electrical systems.

Few jobs are tougher than replacing the wiring on a boat, which often runs under decks, through tight chases, and into closed compartments. When you’re looking at a used boat, turn on each and every electrical item from lights to electronics, one at a time. Then turn them all on at once. Also, take a peek at the fuse box. If you see an assortment of different brand fuses, indicating that some or many have been replaced, ask why (and if the problem was fixed), explains Boats.com.

Failing bilge pumps.

Turning the pump on and off isn’t enough. Instead, trigger the bilge manually to ensure the float switch works, as well.


As many newer boats are built with treated wood, this isn’t a common issue. However, in older boats, rot is extremely pervasive and can lead to a lot of structural damage. Look for deck discoloration, transom issues, coring, and cracks along the edges when doing a walk-through of the boat.

About Mariners Insurance

Mariners General Insurance Group was founded in 1959 to protect boat owners and marine business clients. We are marine insurance experts, and provide Boat Insurance worldwide – in every ocean on the planet. Marine insurance is critical if you own a boat or nautical business. Trust the professionals – trust Mariners Insurance. Call us at 888-402-5018 any time you have questions or concerns about insurance for your vessel or marine business.