We put this on another forum and thought why didn't we put it here. You guys can learn from this also on things that get overlooked.
Here is our check list:
1. Check the trailer tires for condition or age and wear. That cost hits many new to you owners too soon. We don't care much about moderate aged tires, though old cracked one are not good. Let condition be your guide.
2. Trailer bearings many over grease so check the bearings for heat when towed. If the wheels have grease plan on repacking the bearings with a new double lipped seals, one V lip faces in and one V lip faces out to prevent water from going in. Many rebuild trailers with automotive seals and they do not prevent water intrusion when cooling happens submerged.
3. Check the brakes for operation and brake fluid. Many older trailers sit long periods and a brake system can take some jingle to fix. The brake fluid develops (absorbs) moisture sitting and the lines or master cylinder / wheel cylinders rust creating problems.
4. Don't worry about lights not working as most older used rigs have busted lights and harnesses, just plan on about $150 to get the lights in shape if they have issues. Most can handle it themselves though 12 volts is easy as pie and it messes with some folks.
5. Pop the drain plug on the Gearcase and check the fluid for water. Be quick as no boat owners want their lube drainin out.
6. Look at the drain plug area for corrosion. That generally shows corrosion or degradation from charging the batteries with the hatches closed. Hydrogen gas and other vented gasses from charging ages components in the bilge, hardens hoses, crystallizes wire shrouding, causes corrosion and makes maintenance a major necessity. Generally on older boats it shows up in the drain plug unless it was replaced. The plug ir tube area will be chalky, hardened and cracking or green. It depends on what drain it has.
7. Upholstery cracking can be an expensive item. We suggest a local upholstery on older boats, though we do our own in house for BCB. Right now we have 9 sets of our bench seats on order and another 8 bench seat sets from our vendor. So folks want to upgrade their seats, and if the look is not really important to you a local upholstery shop can do alright. They just often look like home brew jobs instead of factory. The vinyl local shops use is also usually a lot lower quality due to costs. If you keep it inside then you have no major issues ahead.
8. Engines we went right by. Bleed lines and hoses should be supple and flexible. Most do not check these and they should be replaced when aging. Engines with belts also should have good belts and no rubber shredding. Ethanol destroys these hoses and older engines should have new fuel lines in ethanol resistant style. Fuel primer bulbs produced since around June of 2012 should be ethanol resistant, those before were not ethanol resistant. The lines may be, though the bulb and valves were not.
9. Have a qualified mechanic do a pressure or leak down test on the powerhead, print a tech report or label the power head with poundage of each cylinder to be sure there are no rings or piston issues. Freshening an engine that's down on pressure is easy as new pistons and rings will save a power head without a major rebuild. It's not a do it yourselves for most, though a good trusted wrench can handle it and make a comparison. We wouldn't run from one low on pressure, though we would plan on freshening it. Of course it would have to run good while low on power before we purchased it. You can negotiate the price based on the cost to freshen.
10. Cables on steering are an expensive replacement so be sure the steering cables are in good shape and smooth both directions lock to lock turning the wheel. If they are bad plan on replacing the whole cable system and not just cables. Wear is pressure on the rack teeth and helm when they turn hard, we have seen more than one cracked helm and failing steering after cable replacements. We would stay cable as life is fine, operation good and cost acceptable.
On hydraulic systems check for leaks or slop and be sure the steering is not leaking at seals on helm, cylinder on engine, or connections to cylinder and pump parts. Steering is a serious matter.
11. Propeller: often people will not be ale to make a boat run when other issues prevail, so they go to the propeller trying to improve performance which won't solve the issue. Figure out what propeller the rig has commonly and be sure that they have a similar prop. If not they may be masking issues you will pay for later. You can't regain performance in a water logged hull through a propeller.
12. Transoms and floor come to mind now as checking a transom is as easy as moving the Gearcase up and down. Remove the transom saver and bounce up and down on the top of the cavitation plate while angled on trim setting. The transom will move some though should not move excessively. Play with a buddies boat that you know is newer and in good shape, or you will be surprised at the flex there. It may require a second person to flex the transom and bounce while you watch and feel the transom.
On the flooring that's a hard one... Check of lots of of remounted items in the bilge, new holes and old holes left open without sealing. All that water through an old set of holes runs drip by drip into the flooring and compromises the foam chambers. The foam absorbs moisture and is not a true closed cell as everyone advertises. It all absorbs moisture. Every screw and screw holes must all be sealed. The best way to check for moisture is to weigh the entire rig on a set of grain or truck scales. Add engine, batteries, estimated boat weight, trolling motor, propeller, accessories, and trailer together. Any gear load needs to be added also as folks can get stupid there and go over 300 in some cases. Add fuel weight and figure up what it weighs. If its heavy by more than 100, 150 or 200 pounds odds are its moisture.
13. Check the propeller shaft, spin it to be sure it is true. A little wobble is fine, less than 1/8" or 1/16" though we would use that for negotiations on the price.
14. Just figure about $1000 to $1500 bucks or more for new carpeting if it's worn. You can go higher or lower depending on carpet, labor and other incidentals you feel you need while your doing it. We stock and use only 24 ounce carpeting for BCB, while other brands use 15 ounce carpeting. Better carpeting lasts much longer so when you look at the boat an original Bass Cat will have the best carpeting available, while a Ranger in that used age category five years back will be good carpeting as well. Other brands we know of all use lower grades and age differently.
15. Batteries: Most folks just assume batteries need replacing, though they shouldn't and batteries are expensive today. Take a voltmeter with you and learn how to use it to test the batteries when you get there. Look the boat over, add batteries to you inquiry and check them comparing the previous voltage when your done as a last thing. Batteries that were bad will usually show a drop in an hour and you will see if they pumped them up hot before you arrived.
16. Charger: be sure to check the charger for operation on all batteries. Using two or three chargers is no problem, even having an open unused line is fine, probably better as you have backup. Though be sure the on board charger is operating or use that in negotiations also.
17. Trolling Motor: The trolling motor shaft on steel models should be checked for operation at the lake. A bent shaft will bind up when turning under high speeds. It will never turn easily under maximum speeds, though it shouldn't lock up and be sure your familiar with the difference before you accuse the seller of a bent shaft. Also check the brackets for excessive wear that allows creaking and popping that will drive you crazy in medium range fishing. The rest is easy here as the steering and electric motor either work or have issues.
18. Electronics: Wow what a range. Electronics are personal and usually used rigs don't have top tier so don't expect it. Plan oing in on selling the ones on the boat for half what you think they are worth should you plan on upgrading.
19. Gelcoat: what a variation here also. Every brand has variables and uses have varied greatly as well. Even those with the best resins can be cracked up by An abuser. Then there are hulls that can be side impacted by a car or truck and the owners never know it. The range here is very large and the area of damage would be our concern. Transoms can have hairlines, though not deep swelling cracks. Hulls on stumps and large waves will develop hinging and impact crazing, though not major popped out cracks. There is just too much variation here to guide you, though after looking over several you should be able to figure out how one should appear. Of course age impacts this as well as region it was used.
20. Blisters: Oh, Oh the dreaded blistering. If it has what we would term small pimples under the bunks then we wouldn't let that bother us too much. Just keep it drier in the future and you should be fine. If you fish a lot then plan on using a 2-4 ton floor jack to elevate the hull occasionally to let it dry. You can slip some plastic flat shims between hull and bunks to stop the blistering and let it get air when stored. Moderate blistering in that area would be your choice based on your budget, price of the rig and conscience. If the whole hull has major Blistering it should not be overly expensive and significantly below NADA.
21: Gouging and chips: this one is in your hands as we hate to see gouged and demolished hulls. They can water jacket and causing what looks like delamination in the hull. We would plan on covering the chips with Gelcoat or something. You can not leave boats manufactured after 2003 with major chips or you could have major problems with your entire bottom. Some boats before 2004 face that same problem as those manufacturers did not use premium raw materials.
22. Check the Bilge: if it is oily and greasy, then they really don't care about servicing and taking care of that boat. They may just be busy and have not had time, though it is definitely an indication of the care shown. Clean bilges with no wire issues are usually better cared for. Wiring messes are an entire different topic as with a 5, 10 or 25 year old boat we have seen everything from lamp cord to house solid core copper wiring used to power items. All of these things indicate the problems you might have and just be sure that it is within your budget not only on price tag, though future costs down the road for maintenance.
This should be enough to give anyone plenty to look at on a used boats condition. It all varies depending on you, knowing the if and much more.
There you have it!