NARROW YOUR SEARCH
Start by asking yourself what the primary purpose of your new boat will be. Are you going to be skiing more than anything? Think 20-foot direct-drive models. Will your boat excursions involve long days on the water with infrequent visits back to the dock? Perhaps an onboard head is necessary. Do you balance your time between wakeboarding, skiing and wakesurfing? There are plenty of great multisport V-drives to choose from. Asking questions like these will help focus your search.
Attend a boat show to get a comprehensive look at what’s out there. Make the boat reps earn your business. There are special incentives for purchasing a boat at a show, but before you pull the trigger, it’s wise to really think it through. Check out blogs/chat rooms/owners’ sites and see what the users have to say. They may have comments on issues that wouldn’t normally come to mind.
Reach out to boat owners you know and ask lots of questions. Drive and ski behind friends’ boats to see which ones you like most. Choosing the right dealer can be just as important as picking the brand that’s right for your needs. You want to trust and like the people you are going to be working with on the original purchase and ongoing maintenance. If they’re not exactly close by, sometimes it’s worth going the extra mile.
Know what you can afford. Before you get too serious about a new ride, get pre-approved for financing so you have a good idea of the loan amount, down payment and monthly payment that works with your budget. Specific lending guidelines vary by lender, so shop around for this while you shop for your boat. You can apply online at essexcredit.com or tridentfunding.com and get an immediate answer.
Take a test ride before you cut a check. Even if you’ve skied and driven your buddies around on the same, exact model that you want to buy, it’s smart to ask the dealer for the keys. Pack your ski equipment and hit the lake. Scrutinize the wake. Is it symmetrical and up to your standards? Besides testing the wake, drive the boat at various speeds and check for rattling, loose handling or anything else that may raise suspicion.
Get the extended warranty; not necessarily worth it on a car, but performance boats have a lot of moving parts susceptible to the elements, regardless of the quality. Make sure the warranty covers things like ballast, cleats, tower/accessories, switches, etc.