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New vs. Used – The Pros and Cons

New vs. Used - The Pros and Cons

The decision to buy a boat is always exciting. While you might think you want to run out and buy something shiny and new, with all the bells and whistles, there are times when buying a reliable, used watercraft can be the best decision. This guide will help you understand many of the pros and cons associated with buying new or used boats.

The Pros and Cons of Buying a New Boat

Pros of Buying a New Boat

There are some really compelling reasons to buy a shiny, new boat instead of a more experienced, used watercraft.

  1. Warranties. Boat repairs can be costly. If you buy a used boat, you’re on your own for the expense. However, if you purchase a new boat with mechanical defaults, the factory is responsible for making the repairs. In other words, it’s someone else’s headache and expense. If you do buy a new boat, don’t forget to take advantage of offers for extended warranties if they are available to you.
  2. Amenities. When you buy a used boat, you don’t have the options for factory customizations and amenities that you do when buying a new boat. If you want upgrades for your boat, you can order them before you take possession of the boat. Or order a custom-made boat that works to meet your unique and specific needs.
  3. Choice of finishes. When you buy a brand-new boat, you pick the finishes, the colors for things like biminies and sail covers, the physical layout of the boat, the colors and styles of seating and cushions, and even the finishing touches in the galley and head, if you’re purchasing that type of boat. You can go by your favorite colors, styles, etc. and not be stuck with someone else’s preferences.
  4. Preferred financing rates. Oddly enough, interest rates for financing a new boat are often lower than those associated with used boats. The older a used boat is, the more difficult it can be to finance it. Certainly a consideration if you intend to finance your boat purchase.
  5. Longer life-cycle. It just makes sense that a brand new boat has its entire life ahead of it, giving you years of use, while an older and used watercraft is simply closer to its eventual final breakdown.

Cons of Buying a New Boat

Buying a new boat is not without its drawbacks. The considerations listed below are worth keeping in mind so that you make your purchase with your eyes wide open.

  1. Cost of buying the boat. We’ll talk more about depreciation next, but it should be no surprise that you’re going to pay more for a new boat than for a used watercraft. That’s because a used boat has already experienced the big depreciation drop-off that happens at purchase and over the first year. With a new boat, you – the buyer – have to simply absorb the full cost of the watercraft yourself.
  2. Depreciation. We’ve already mentioned this, but to go further: much like new cars, new boats lose a ton of value the moment you take it off the dealership lot. Depreciation is a beast and can have you upside down on your loan for several years. That doesn’t happen with used watercraft.
  3. Cost of insuring the boat. New boats are often costly to insure regardless of the type of boat you buy. Keep that in mind and don’t forget things like gap coverage to help mitigate the differences between what you owe on the boat and the actual cash value of the boat should accidents occur.

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Used Boat

Pros of Buying a Used Boat

While new boats are appealing, there are lots of reasons why a used boat could be the perfect purchase for you.

  1. Lesser degrees of depreciation. When you purchase a used boat, units tend to not depreciate as quickly. This allows you to get better value and to take slightly bigger risks with the type and size of boat you purchase.
  2. Upgrade for less. When you buy a used boat for less, you can afford equipment or luxury upgrades you might not be able to if you were buying a new boat for more. Used boats are almost always a better bargain, as long as you perform due diligence in checking out the physical and mechanical condition of the boat.
  3. Chance of freebies. Many boat owners who are selling are willing to part with the extras they’ve purchased along the way as part of the sale. This means you can get things like depth finders, fish finders, bedding, galley equipment, etc. that you would have to otherwise buy on your own with a new boat.
  4. More boat for your buck. The reality is that you can buy bigger, better, faster, and more in a used boat for the same money you would spend on a new boat. If you want to maximize your boat investment, going used is one way to get more for your money.
  5. Reliability. If you can obtain maintenance and repair records for a used watercraft, then you can have greater confidence that you are purchasing a reliable boat that has consistently performed in the past and will continue to be dependable for you in the future (as long as you keep up that diligent maintenance!).

Cons of Buying a Used Boat

Of course, used boats can come with some problems, which we’ll describe below.

  1. The unknowns. The truth is that you don’t always know what you’re really getting when you buy a used boat. You will need to spend quite a bit of time vetting the boat to make sure it is waterworthy and mechanically sound before committing to the purchase. If you aren’t familiar with boat mechanics, consider having someone who is familiar with them to look over the boat before you decide to buy.
  2. Equipment needs. Because your interests in owning a boat may differ from the original owner’s interest, you may need to purchase equipment and add-ons to make the boat work for your needs. This can add to the price and should be calculated when making an offer or counteroffer on a used boat.
  3. Shorter life-cycle. A logical downside to buying a used boat is that you’re buying a watercraft that has experienced wear and tear. Even if it’s been well maintained, a used watercraft is still likely to be closer to the end of its operating life than a brand new boat.


Conclusion: Take some time to think about all of the positives and negatives we’ve discussed here so you can come to your best boat decision. We hope this guide helps you make better-informed choices as you debate the pros and cons of buying a new boat vs. those of buying a used boat. Boat owners can view new and used boats here on Boatline, so let us help you find the best boat for you!

Starting Your Boat: Common Issues

To start most boats, all you need to do is turn a key. However, there are some provisions built-in to your boat for safety that may prevent a smooth start. Review all of them in detail to better understand what’s going on with your craft.

Neutral Throttle

Your boat has a throttle, which only allows the boat to operate in the neutral position. If your boat won’t start, check that the throttle is in neutral.

Engine Safety Cut-Off

Also known as the “kill switch,” the engine safety cut-off stops the engine from starting in the closed position. It is a small red knob and is typically found near the ignition. If your engine isn’t starting, check this knob. You can switch it into the open position by moving a small clip designed to slide under the knob and pull it open. It is attached to a lanyard with a tether clip on its opposite end.

Here’s an important safety tip: the tether clip should be attached to your lifejacket or belt loop before you turn on your boat. This allows the engine to quickly snap back into the off position if you have to move away from your boat’s helm.

Operating Your Boat

Now that you know how to start your craft and avoid any issues that may stop the engine from running, you can learn more about operating it. Following these steps is crucial to stay safe on the water. Here are some essential tips on how to handle the main elements of boat operation.


To start your boat, you will need to push the throttle forward carefully—or, on some watercraft, pull it back—until it shifts into gear. As soon as the boat begins to move, spin your wheel toward the direction you want to go. From there, adjust the throttle to meet your needed speed.

While a boat’s throttle is similar to a car’s accelerator pedal, it has some crucial differences. The most important one is that it stays at the specific speed that you adjust it to. You have to take hold of the throttle and pull it back to change speeds. This means that you always have to pay attention to nearby traffic to have enough time to respond. If you don’t, you risk hitting an unexpected wave, colliding with another vessel, and running into other water dangers.


Trimming your boat involves adjusting its running attitude for changing conditions. Learning to trim can be complicated and is best completed after you have the basics of driving a boat down pat. Different boats require different trimming, so you will need to try out different drive angles and other maneuvers to see what works for your craft.


It may take some time to get used to your boat and how you can best slow it down. Different boats need different stopping distances and approaches to create as smooth of a stop as possible. Otherwise, you may end up throwing passengers around or even cause them to fall overboard. If needed, the fastest way to slow a boat is to follow these steps:

  1. Pull the throttle into neutral.
  2. Pause.
  3. Shift the throttle forward into reverse.
  4. Apply some—but not too much—power.


It is crucial to remember to shift to neutral rather than straight into reverse. Doing so can damage your boat.


Steering a boat is similar to using a car’s steering wheel, which isn’t to say that it is always easy. Waves, wind, currents, and other natural occurrences can alter how well your steering maneuvers the boat. Taking a boat safety course—which may already be required for you to operate your vessel—is your best bet for making sure you know how to steer your boat correctly.

Safety and Preparation Tips

Once you have the basics down, there are other safety and driving preparation tips that you should understand to stay secure in the water. Some of the most important ones are as follows.

Learn How to Operate Each New Boat

Every boat is different, and some designs require extra care to operate them safely. Treat each new watercraft the way a new boater would for the greatest safety.

Check Your Cargo

Before you leave the dock, make sure you have everything you need on board. Make sure that all of your passengers are present, as well.

Prepare to Leave

Once you are sure you have everything you need on board, remove any lines that are securing the boat to its docking area. This may be an actual dock, but it could be a pier or slip. Remember that you will have to back out of a slip rather than steer your boat forward.

Conclusion: All in all, driving a boat can be a safe and enjoyable experience as long as you know what you are doing. Paying attention to your operator education and completing ongoing safety training can help keep you and your passengers safe on the waters for years to come. Now that you’ve completed “Boating 101,” you can find your next watercraft by browsing the nationwide selection of for-sale boats on


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