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

As I recently prepared to upgrade my bass boat, I embarked on a journey to help better decide 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 decide.   

10 Things to Consider Before Buying a New Bass Boat

1. Latest and Greatest Technology on Bass Boats  

New bass boats are products of vast research and development as manufacturers look for ways to serve the best product to consumers. In addition, 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has changed DRAMATICALLY for bass boats over the last 3 to 5 years, so getting a boat older than that could mean outdated technology, especially regarding fishfinders and electronics.   

With electronic 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 regarding 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 an engine 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 or feels like a new one just off 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 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 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 reassure you 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 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 twice as long as the average car loan, which means 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. You can select your colors, carpet grade, and other appearance-related features as an added benefit. 

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 the lot.   It’s unfortunate that buying a new asset like a boat or car 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 be a better option than a used one for someone new to boat ownership. Also, buying a new boat may be the way to go for those with less mechanical know-how or less interest in fixing things on their own. Fewer repairs = less time spent fixing and messing with mechanical issues.  

9. Not Buying Other People’s Boat Problems

When buying anything used, there is undoubtedly a risk that you are buying someone else’s problems. New bass boats come free of issues, and you can fish freely without 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 ensure the previous owners have kept up with things properly.

10. Free Your Mind with a New Bass Boat

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

 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.   Conversely, used boats have already taken their depreciation hit, so you usually purchase closer to the actual 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. That is not true with a new boat.  

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

Keeping it simple 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. In addition, fewer moving parts, 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 allows you 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 excellent 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 you’d be able to buy a bass boat undervalued, meaning you are likely buying into negative equity immediately. 

Not so with all used boats. Many times, if you search hard enough and negotiate tough enough, you may come across a situation allowing you to buy an undervalued used bass boatLife 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 usually have a warranty, but some exceptions exist. 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 done significant work on the outboard, those specific component warranties may transfer over. For example, I recently purchased a new lower unit for my boat with a warranty transferrable to the new owner.

Also, aftermarket warranty options (in actuality, service contracts) 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 a bit of uncertain history of maintenance, repairs, accidents, and mechanical failures. Sellers may have some paperwork but seem never to 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 are not as painful.

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

If you’re just buying your first boat, you probably are unsure about exactly what you want from a new boat.   Buying used at first may be a better bet to get a 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 no stranger to issues, and used boats are notorious for having problems.   Unless you know the seller, you are dealing with a situation where you rely heavily on a seller’s word.  

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

Final Word

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

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

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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