Buying a Used Pontoon Checklist

homeImageSpending a hot summer day on a pontoon boat sounds very enticing. You can relax, go fishing, jump into the cool water, and simply enjoy the company of family and friends onboard. That’s the great thing about pontoon boats; they offer versatile uses for any water activities and are spacious enough to carry more passengers than other regular boats. The downside is pontoon boats can be expensive, BUT you can save a lot more if you set your sights on a used pontoon boat instead. It’s less expensive, plus if you are a great negotiator, the seller can include radios, ladders, lightings, and other pontoon accessories together with the boat.

However, just like in other secondhand items, you have to be aware of the risks involved when buying a used pontoon boat. Like cars, pontoon boats also experience wear and tear and some needed repairs or replacements, and you may end up paying more in the end. Fortunately, aesthetic fixtures in pontoon boats can be easily replaced. Carpets can be reinstalled, tables redesigned, and seats reupholstered. Even for the fundamental elements that make pontoon boats run, as long as they are not seriously damaged, many components are available for purchase in stores or online.

Now that we’ve covered some basic ideas about buying a used pontoon boat, still, the best way to find out if a used pontoon boat is worth your precious money is to check it out in person. Like test-driving a car. Use the following checklist to figure out if the pontoon boat is as good as the seller claims it to be.

Buying a Used Pontoon Boat Checklist

Inspect the following:

  1. Hull of the pontoon. This is the first and most important thing you need to check because you don’t want to buy a pontoon just for it to sink, right? Look for signs of cracks or patches on the stem, chines, and strakes because these suffer the most during a collision. (Interested in learning about the different types of boat hulls?)
  2. Pontoon logs. Are they straightly positioned? They might also show signs of cracks, dents, holes, or other holes that will need repairs.
  3. Outboard engine cowling. Remove it and check for dry white “curtains” past the head gasket. These are signs of seepage or the slow escape of a liquid or gas through small holes. How many hours are on the engine? Were there repairs made on the engine?


  1. Shift and throttle linkages. Are they greased? Is it clean of signs of corrosion? Do the springs snap back? You should answer yes to these questions.
  2. Laminate. This is to check the pontoon boat underneath the surface and see if it’s overpriced or not. If you feel any cracks, bubbles, waves, wrinkles, or other inconsistencies when you run your hands on the surface, it might be a product of substandard manufacturing.
  3. Point where the hull meets the deck. Another sign of poor workmanship is if this part has lumps or dents.
  4. Flooring. Evidence of mold may mean big repair expenses and lowers the value of the pontoon boat. If the plywood also emits a squishy sound, this indicates rotting wood.
  5. Gauges. Are they accurate? Do they tend to bounce? Look for signs of problems with oil pressure.
  6. Furniture. Cracks and tears on the furniture indicate that the pontoon was not carefully stored and you may have to spend on reupholstery.


Look for a National Marine Manufacturers Association sticker.

The true test of quality manufacturing is a certification from NMMA, which guarantees that the manufacturer passed the factory inspection and used materials approved by the American Boat & Yacht Council. NMMA also certifies that the pontoon boat have functioning parts.

nmma certified

Test-drive the pontoon boat.

Here comes the fun part but don’t let your guards down just yet. Start by warming up the engine and see how long it takes to do so. Longer waiting time means it might have start-up problems. As you navigate the waters, check how good the pontoon boat is in doing narrow and wide turns. Go faster, slow down—how does it handle the changes in speed? It would also be advisable to let the engine run for a long time to check for overheating issues.

Ask for proof of ownership.

It will make better sense to have this on hand to make sure that you are not buying stolen property. If you’re buying the pontoon through a dealer, they are obligated to show the proof to you. But if buying directly from a seller, practice caution and don’t be afraid to ask.

There you go. You now have a full-length checklist of things you should take note of before buying a used pontoon boat. If you are still on the fence, here are answers to a few commonly asked pontoon buying questions that may hopefully enlighten you. Of course, it’s not necessary to find the “perfect” boat but if you know what to look for and what will need repairs, you can negotiate for a lower price. The only thing left to do now is to name it! More value for your money, and more happiness for all the boating trips you can take with your brand new used pontoon boat.

One thought on “Buying a Used Pontoon Checklist

  1. Great tips for buying a pontoon boat and perfect timing now that winter is over and boating season is back! Hurray! Mind if we share this post on our blog as well for our users? We will link it to your website. Thanks

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