Should I buy a New or Used Bass Boat? Comparison Guide.

Whether you’re new to bass fishing and looking for your first bass boat or you’re a veteran looking to upgrade, the day will come when you are ready to start shopping for the best bass boat.   When that day comes, you’ll likely weigh the advantages and disadvantages of buying new versus used.

When trying to decide if you should buy a new or used bass boat, consider a number of factors. New bass boats cost more but offer updated technology, warranties, better financing, and peace of mind.  Used bass boats are cheaper, suffer from less depreciation, and offer more bang for the buck. 

As I recently prepared to upgrade my personal bass boat, I embarked on a journey to help make a better decision on which route to go: new vs. used.   Through in-depth research, I’ve uncovered some great information to help make the decision. 

Below, you’ll find a detailed analysis of the pros and cons of buying a new bass boat vs. a new bass boat.  You’ll also see a few nifty ideas to help you make the decision.   

10 Things to Consider Before Buying a New Bass Boat

1. Latest and Greatest Technology on Bass Boats  

New bass boats are products of a huge amount of research and development as manufacturers look for ways to serve up the best product to consumers.   Technology has changed DRAMATICALLY for bass boats over the last 3 to 5 years so getting a boat older than that could mean outdated technology especially in regards to fishfinders and electronics.   

With electronics advancements such as significantly upgraded screen sizes, livescan, 360-degree viewing options, and the like, you may be missing out on vastly improved technology if you opt for a used bass boat versus a new one. I run Hummingbird products on my boat and love the ease of use coupled with the crystal clear images. Check out the Hummingbird Helix Fishfinder at Bass Pro — It’s AMAZING.

2.  New Bass Boat Outboards have More Fuel Efficient Motors

Outboard engine manufacturers have taken leaps and strides in regards to motor design and build.  The benefits of new motor technology are primarily manifested in their fuel efficiency.   The latest and greatest motors offer a dramatic increase in fuel efficiency using fewer gallons per hour (fuel efficiency in boats is typically measured by how many gallons a motor uses in an hour).  So, even though newer boats (and motors) may cost more upfront, you may save significantly if you do a lot of running for your bass fishing trips.

3. Brand New Bass Boats Have Up to Date and Modern Design

New bass boats have the “sparkle” effect.  Although bass boat looks don’t serve much, if any, essential purpose, there’s something to be said for the look of a fresh-off-the-floor new bass boat.  Many older boats are maintained well, but nothing looks nor feels like a new boat just off of the dealer’s showroom floor.  

Newer boats are also up to date with modern design features such as more aerodynamic designs, higher quality gel coats, and better finishes like durable carpets and plush bass boat seats.

4.  New Bass Boats: Warranty for the Win.

Bass boats open up a whole new world of fishing letting you cover more water and providing you with a ton of fun.  However, they can also be a source of stress in the form of mechanical failure.   

New boats usually come with warranties that cover problems … and boats do have problems.  As the old adage goes, 

“The two happiest days in a boater’s life are the purchase date and the sale date.”

While I vehemently disagree with that saying, boats do break down and do require repairs.  A warranty can be a reassurance that you won’t be spending a ton of money on repairs.  You’ll feel better knowing you’re covered for many costly repairs.

5. Better Terms for New Boat Financing

New boats are considerably more expensive but financing options are plentiful, potentially making the initial outlay a little less painful.  Additionally, interest rates are generally much lower for new boats resulting in lower monthly payments.  Finally, new boat financing usually comes with terms that can be two times as long as the average car loan which means, of course, more time to pay off and lower monthly payments.

 6. Customization Options on New Boats

There are a wide variety of options available on new boats some of which you may deem to be must-haves and some that are not as important.  By purchasing a new boat, you have the unique opportunity to tailor the boat to fit your needs by picking the right accessories and upgrades for your situation.  As an added benefit, you’ll have a chance to pick your colors, carpet grade, and other appearance-related features. 

7.  How Much Does a New Bass Boat Depreciate? Ouch.

One drawback that warrants significant consideration is the effect of depreciation on a new bass boat.   Like automobile depreciation, bass boats depreciate almost immediately as you pull off of the lot.   It’s an unfortunate fact that buying a new asset like a boat or car and simply cannot be avoided.   Bass boats depreciate just like automobiles upon leaving the lot. Depreciation rates vary but can be as high as 10-17% in the first year.

8. If You’ve Never Owned a Bass Boat . . .

Buying a new boat may a better option than a used one for someone new to boat ownership.  For those with a little less mechanical know-how or less interest in fixing things on their own, buying a new boat may be the way to go.  Fewer repairs = less time spent on fixing and/or messing with mechanical issues.  

9. Not Buying Other People’s Boat Problems

When buying anything used, there is certainly a risk that you are buying someone else’s problems.  New bass boats come free of issues and you can fish freely without having a nagging feeling that something is about to go wrong with your boat.  With new boats, there’s no need to check boat maintenance records before you buy to make sure that the previous owners have kept up with things properly.

10. Free Your Mind with a New Bass Boat

As alluded to above, perhaps the biggest advantage of buying a new bass boat versus buying a used bass boat is the freedom you feel when fishing.  Worrying whether your boat is going to function properly is the last thing you want to do while out on the water.  Your state of mind and your fishing will both benefit from the peace of mind that you’ll carry with you while using a new boat.

10 Things to Consider Before Buying a Used Bass Boat.

1. Save Money by Purchasing a Used Bass Boat

The most obvious benefit of buying a used bass boat vs. a new one is the tremendous savings that can be had by purchasing used.   

 2. Used boats have already Depreciated Significantly.

As mentioned in the new bass section, new boats suffer immediate loss in value upon purchase and it’s simply unavoidable.   On the flip side, used boats have already taken their depreciation hit so you’re usually purchasing closer to the true value.  If you had to turn around and sell a used boat, you would likely be able to sell for close to what you paid.  Not true with a new boat.  

3. KISS. Used Boats Have Less Frills to Break.

Keep it simple and straightforward is a principle that can apply to your boat motor and help you avoid costly repairs.

Outboard motor technology has evolved and continues to improve at a rapid pace.  Older motors are known to be a bit simpler and less sophisticated which some assume is a downside.  However, with simplicity, comes less opportunity to break down.  Less moving parts, fewer computer chips, and other high tech gizmos may mean fewer things to break.  

4. Get Bang for the Buck with a Used Boat

Purchasing a used boat affords you the opportunity to get more out of your money.  Looking for better electronics, newer shallow water anchors, or other upgrades but can’t afford them?  One solution may be to buy an older boat that is still in great condition to free up money for some of the accessories that you feel are important.

5. Opportunity to Buy into Equity with a Used Boat

When buying a new boat, there is virtually zero chance that you’d be able to buy a bass boat under value meaning you are likely buying into negative equity right away. 

Not so with all used boats.  Many times, if you search hard enough and negotiate tough enough, you may come across a situation that provides you with an opportunity to buy a used bass boat under value.  Life situations, financial hardships, or a host of other reasons may mean a seller is highly motivated to sell.

Find a motivated seller and you have a great chance to buy a boat with equity.

 6. No Used Boat Warranty.  WAIT!

One of the drawbacks of buying a used bass boat is the lack of warranty reassurance.   As we’re all aware, boats break down.  Used boats don’t normally come with a warranty but there are some exceptions.  If you’re dealing with a later model boat, be sure to ask the seller if there is a warranty that transfers over.  

If sellers have ever had significant work done on the outboard, those specific component warranties may transfer over.  For example, I recently purchased a new lower unit for my boat that came with a warranty that is transferrable to the new owner.

Also, there are aftermarket warranty options (in actuality, service contracts) that may be an option for your used boat, especially when purchasing from a dealer.  Be sure to check on details for adding warranties at the time of purchase.

7. Uncertainty when Buying a Used Bass Boat

Used boats carry with them quite a bit of uncertain history of maintenance, repairs, accidents, and mechanical failures.  Sellers may have some paperwork but seem to never have it all.

 8. Used Boats Provide a Cushion

If this is your first boat or fiftieth, rest assured that you WILL make mistakes with it.  You may scratch it, dent it, ding it, or drop something on the carpet.  It’s inevitable.   Making mistakes with a new boat can be gut-wrenching.  Mishaps with older boats may still hurt, but they are not as painful.

 9. Is This Really What You Want? Boat Options.

If you’re one who is just buying your first boat, you probably are a bit unsure about exactly what you want out of a new boat.   Buying used at first may be a better bet so you can get the feel for different options, boat styles, motors, and other things before plucking down the big bucks for a brand new bass boat.

10. Used Boats Come with Some Element of Risk

Buying a used anything comes with some element of risk.  Boats are certainly no stranger to issues and used boats are a bit notorious for having problems.   Unless you know the seller, you are dealing with a situation where you’re heavily relying on a seller’s word.  

Sure, you can get an inspection which is HIGHLY recommended, but inspections are brief and sometimes miss underlying issues.  In the end, there’s no way to eliminate all of the risks.  You just have to make sure that the risk you are assuming is fair and commensurate with the purchase price of the boat.  

Final Word

In conclusion, new boats are obviously more expensive than used boats … that’s a given.  However, when you are trying to make a decision on whether you should buy a new or used bass boat, there are many factors to weigh, not just price.  

Do your homework, take a test drive, and get inspections when possible to ensure that your next boat buying experience is the best that it can possibly be!

Jason Bradstreet

I’m Jason Bradstreet. I grew up fishing tournaments with my Dad who was a well-known Central Florida Bass Guide and tournament angler. I have been bass fishing for all of my life am passing the love on to my family. Now, I serve as a bass fishing coach and captain to my kids who fish tournaments in the Bass Nation circuit. Our family loves to fish. We research, practice together, and enjoy both recreational and tournament bass fishing as a family. We are excited to share what we’ve learned on this site!

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