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How to check history of used boat? Boatfax?

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Old 02-24-2010, 11:10 PM
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1. Inspect boat for signs of sinkage or water damage and stains inside the interior where water may have been sitting for any length of time. Look for unusual stress cracks excluding the normal ones around radiuses. When most boats sink they incur minor stress cracks that are not consistent with normal operation.

2. Fuel – check contents of filter, ask when last changed, ask how long current load of fuel has been sitting in the tank(s), when was fuel last added?

3. Run engine (preferably under load) and take sample of oil and send to Caterpillar for analysis.

4. Leak down test (not compression) – pull all spark plugs out, inspect them and test cylinder leakage at tdc. Makes notes for % on each corresponding cylinder.

5. If leak test is good for all cylinders, pull of exhaust manifolds for visual of exhaust ports on both, the head and manifold itself. You’re looking for water trails on the inside of the exhaust.

6. Pull drive off and check for rubber leaks. Pull drain plugs out of drive and check magnets. Check color and smell of oil. If present, water will come out before oil does. Check drive coupler and check splines on input shaft for knifing or lack of grease.

7. Inspect the bilge during AND after a run to look for oil leaks, antifreeze leaks, water leaks, broken hose clamps lying in bilge etc.


All the cosmetic stuff including broken door latches, damaged or faded carpet and sun damaged upholstery is also important in terms of what it costs to replace but these things are the very last thing to take interest in. A nice, covered, pretty boat is still very expensive to repair if the above doesn’t look good. This is true particularly for one who can not or does not do his own repairs. Upon arriving to check the boat out, notice if it has been stored with drive all or most of the way up. This stretches out the bellows and leaves them in the fully extended state. They usually die quicker this way. Based on common sense, if the owner did not know this than there are probably other things he didn’t know to do either… This is all just careful opinion. Many will disagree with me.
Wow. Yet more really good advice here. While I have your attention, I would like to hear your opinion of what should be done upon taking delivery of a used boat, assuming the above inspections are completed with satisfactory results. Impeller? Change all fluids/filters? Sea foam? Thanks for the education. This information should really be in a sticky...
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Old 02-24-2010, 11:21 PM
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Wow. Yet more really good advice here. While I have your attention, I would like to hear your opinion of what should be done upon taking delivery of a used boat, assuming the above inspections are completed with satisfactory results. Impeller? Change all fluids/filters? Sea foam? Thanks for the education. This information should really be in a sticky...
All depends on how picky you are. If everything tested out in my previous post I would maybe just check the raw water cooling to make sure there are no pieces of an old impeller stuck in the coolers. Basically, the check list let's you know what should be done on delivery. Again, opinions vary but if it runs good and everything else I said checks out ok then I'd buy it if price is right.

Don't forget we've not made a list for the trailer. Shops charge as much for trailer work as they do for working on the boat.

tires, brakes, bearings, seals, lights, bunks, etc.. How far you wanna go? Or really, how much you wanna spend?
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Old 02-24-2010, 11:23 PM
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Wow. Yet more really good advice here. While I have your attention, I would like to hear your opinion of what should be done upon taking delivery of a used boat, assuming the above inspections are completed with satisfactory results. Impeller? Change all fluids/filters? Sea foam? Thanks for the education. This information should really be in a sticky...
I only made you a basic list. It is NOT all-inclusive. It just covers the most expensive stuff I can think of at the moment. You know, mostly the "deal-killer" type stuff. Most everything else you will just have to jump in with both feet and still wear a helmet. At some point, it'll hit you in the head regardless.
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