Choosing the best used pontoon boat can present some unique challenges if you are unfamiliar with these vessels, though it is not that different from buying any other used boat. The first step is to determine how you will use the boat, which can help you narrow down your possible choices. If you plan on using your new boat primarily for fishing, you might need to look at different vessels than if you intend to use it as a party boat. After you have narrowed down the type of used pontoon boat that you want, you should familiarize yourself with the various components of these vessels. You will need to learn how to determine whether the electrical system, pontoons, motor and other components have any issues so that you do not end up with a used pontoon boat that needs expensive repair work.
The first thing to do is to decide how your used pontoon boat would be utilized. If you have a particular use in mind, you might want to look for a used vessel that has already been outfitted to your liking. A used fishing boat might already have equipment such as rod holders, downriggers or fish-finding gear that you won't have to purchase and install yourself. Another factor to take into consideration is how many people will use the boat at once. It can be wasteful to buy a very large pontoon boat if it will be used by only one or two people, but it can also be dangerous to overload a smaller boat, because it might capsize and flip over.
After you have narrowed down your choices, you might want to hire a professional to inspect each potential option. A professional inspector can provide you with an itemized list of the potential issues that each boat has, so that you can make an informed decision. You also should educate yourself on the subject so that you can perform these inspections yourself. This can save you money when compared with hiring a professional, though you should be careful to make sure that you do not overlook any potentially costly issues.
The two main components that make up a pontoon boat are the pontoons and the deck. Pontoons provide buoyancy, and the deck is the platform on top of which the motor, controls, seats and other components are built. If a used pontoon boat is in the water when you go to inspect it, you might not be able to see the underside of the deck. It still can be helpful to walk on it, though, and you should carefully feel for any soft spots and inspect for visual signs of damage. Other systems that you should be able to test if the boat is in the water include the motor, the electronics and any controls.