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Pre-Purchase Inspections: Tips to save
By Nick Parker W. Sacramento 3-5-2011

Spring is almost here and buyers are finding a market filled with boats to fit all budgets. There have been many tragic stories of buyers getting boats that never run, always cost a fortune to fix and never give back any satisfaction.  "The happiest day is the day you buy and the day you sell." With a few tips to follow, you can help reduce your risk so you can enjoy instead of regret.
1. Ask for maintenance records.  A boat that has been professionally serviced will be less likely to have broken or worn parts.
2. When was the impeller replaced? If you are a buyer or boat owner you need to know this part. The impeller pushes water up into the engine to cool it. Bad impeller = overheated engine and lost $$. Every 2 to 3 years or 100 hours the impeller needs to be replaced. Many newer models also need the impeller housing replaced due to the plastic construction.  We have seen many low hour boats come in that have been severely overheated at one point due to impeller failure. You cannot tell the internal engine damage it caused without a compression test and a camera inspection of the cylinders.
3. What is the boats condition? If you find that the interior is shot, the engine is rusted and dirty, and axle grease is all over the trailer rims, then you probably have a money pit. These boats are cheap because the worn or broken components are expensive.
4. Is the motor or drive working?  This is where all the money is in a boat. Engine replacement averages $5000 and outdrive repairs can cost $500 to $10,000, depending on the type of failure and model of outdrive.  Do your homework on the engine package you want in a used boat. A professional boat shop can assist you with questions about repair and services costs for different manufacturers. For gasoline and outboard engines, a compression test is a good indicator of condition. Anything below 100 PSI means it is getting tired. Outdrives can be a little more ticky to inspect out of the water, but shifting the drive while the engine is running will allow you to feel for stiff shifting, ratcheting noises during the shift, or excessive vibrations.
5. Don't let outboards fool you! Many older boats with outboards are the cheapest on the market. This is for a reason. Outboards are highly engineered propulsion units that take special tools and training to repair.  A complete 150-200hp outboard costs around $20,000 brand new.  A 100hp outboard can run $13,000. These are not lawn mower engines and 98% of home mechanics will cause more damage than repair. Outboards need careful inspection by a professional as they were designed to be low maintenance. When they reach the end of their service life it will take many thousands of dollars to overhaul.
6. Impulse purchases can be risky. If you find the boat of your dreams make sure your emotions do not over power the obvious. If a boat seller is making the deal to good to be true, they may be hiding something. Do your homework or deal with a huge shop bill later.
7. Hire a reputable technician to inspect.  Needless to say a full equipped and properly trained shop is your best friend when it comes to a pre-purchase inspection.  They will have the tools and knowledge of common failures of a used boat.  Get the boat inspected before you close the deal.  If a buyer has something to hide they will never agree to a mechanics inspection. A pre-purchase report will cover engine compression, worn items, and the condition of all components that can be used during the final negotiation.

Our Complete Pre-purchase Inspection Service is $149.00*
You get a written report covering the following items:
Engine test run, engine compression test, and inspection of: spark plugs, shift components, cables, electrical system, hull condition, trailer condition, bellows, cooling system, leaks, and hazards. Overall performance and condition will be noted.

RCBW Maritime Services
River City Boat Works
717 Galveston St.
West Sacramento, CA 95691
Phone: 916-320-5307

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