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Old     (mike2001)      Join Date: Feb 2008       06-02-2020, 1:05 AM Reply   
As Iím trying to hunt down and buy a vdrive in the 25-35k price range Iím finding the market quite strong and most that are listed sell within a week. Looks like plenty of people are fine buying without inspecting or testing, Iím not one of them. That being said, any tips or tricks for quickly assessing the condition of a midrange wake boat, like those telltale signs of use and abuse? Having previously owned an 88 Ski Nautique 2001, Iím thinking similar to soft floor spots, stringers, spinning bolts etc
Old     (hal2814)      Join Date: Feb 2006       06-02-2020, 2:24 AM Reply   
Personally, I first look for how maintained the interior is. In my experience people who don’t maintain vinyl and teak don’t maintain engines either. I do a thorough lake test and check fluids before and after. If that all looks good I’m usually willing to at least take the risk. But I also make sure to keep money aside for repairs that may (and probably will) come up. I haven’t looked at a boat with wooden stringers in a long time but if I were again I’d make sure I couldn’t find evidence of rot. Probably the biggest thing is being willing to walk away. If you’re already noticing issues on the test drive, it’ll get a lot worse after you own it.
Old     (denverd1)      Join Date: May 2004 Location: Tyler       06-03-2020, 2:50 AM Reply   
agree, interior is one of the best ways to gauge how well a boat has been maintained. the trailer will give you an idea as well. bunks in good shape or falling apart?

on wooden stringer boats, obviously check for soft spots in the floor. a good check for the stringers themselves is to try to tighten the bolts going through brackets that hold motor mounts in place. if you can freely spin one or two stringer bolts, good chance the stringer is shot.

Good luck with your search
Old     (mike2001)      Join Date: Feb 2008       06-03-2020, 6:45 AM Reply   
Thanks for the replies. I should have probably been more clear, I’m looking at newer mid 2000s vdrives so no longer have the luxury of some of those older tests with weak spots and stringers. I’m probably not at the point I’d buy a boat just off pics and think I know the right questions to ask (red flag when they say “what’s an impeller). As far as fluid checks, which ones and what should I be looking for before and after test driving?
Old     (jonblarc7)      Join Date: Jul 2006       06-08-2020, 6:08 AM Reply   
I pulled up to test drive a boat years ago. The season was ending and it was fall. It was a on again and off again rainy kind of day. When I pull in the drive way and the cover was off while it was misting, I had and idea this guy didn't take car of things like I do. There where more leafs in the boat than I had in my whole yard.

He talked me into a test drive anyway.

When we where done, He didn't even think of wiping it down. And when he pulled the drain plug water ran out of the hull for 10 mins. If he was to lazy to wipe it down, put a cover on it or even tighten the packing nut!!!! There is no tell the last time he changed the oil or when he winterized it.


1. What do you use to wipe it down.
2. Who and when do you winterize. And what kind of oil. Just to see if they have a clue.
3. Close ups of the interior. Like above if that looks good other things will look good.
4. Do they cover it?
Old     (theloungelife)      Join Date: Jun 2012 Location: Salt Lake City, UT       06-13-2020, 3:42 AM Reply   
If you have a couple hundred bucks, you can have a dealer run through it, do a compression check on the engine etc. The last 2 boats I bought (both were in other states from where I live), I did this. Still isn't full proof though.

Otherwise, I would look for the following:

-Any weird discoloration in the gelcoat (may indicate past repair)
-How does the engine look? Check the underside as well for excessive rust. Are all the hoses connected? Check the oil level.
-Can you do a fake a lake test? If so this is helpful to see if rpms stay steady in idle. Does the temp run steady once warmed up? Any weird noises?
-Do all the switches/lights/stereo work?
-What shape is the interior in (any tears, has the vinyl become brittle)
-Whats the trailer like? If grease bearings, is there enough grease in them? Are the ties matching? Are they in good shape?
-Ask maintenance questions like others have said. How many hours used per year? How many between oil changes? How was the boat cleaned? How regular?

Beyond all that, I look for listing that have transparent information. Does the owner acknowledge the pros and cons? Or only the pros (red flag imo). Almost every used boat has an imperfection somewhere, especially if 15-20 years old.
Old     (Kwclark)      Join Date: Oct 2013       06-14-2020, 4:19 PM Reply   
Beyond what everyone else said. Easy way to test the trailer brakes is unplug the wire harness and drive in reverse. Brakes should lock up immediately. On an old boat I would look at the trans seals for leaks, look on the bottom of the engine at the drain hose connection on the oil pan and makes sure it’s rust free. Spin the prop and see if the bushings have side to side play when you shake it. Inspect the fiberglass around the rudder and look for spider cracks. Also check all ballast pumps. Bilge should be dry before and after you fill the ballast up. Look at the battery connections. Inspect the trans fluid. Give it a smell and see if it smells burnt of if it’s milky. Check speed control when on test run and make sure it holds speed. I would ask if the damper plate has been replaced on older boat. They are prone to breaking .look over the tower for cracks. Compression test is Definately the way to go to if possible.


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