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There’s a common myth that boats are like cars. When you buy a car from a dealership, it instantly depreciates in value as soon as your drive it off the lot; however, that is not the case with boats. As we discussed in our article What is the true cost of owning a boat, on average, new boat owners see a depreciation of 25% to 35% within five years. In contrast, the average new car sees depreciation of about 60% within the same time period.

So how do boat owners maximize their boat’s resale and trade-in value and minimize depreciation? The simple answer: maintenance. The best boat owners will regularly schedule maintenance and keep their boats in top condition. There’s some work involved in maintaining a boat’s quality.


Maintaining the interior of your boat won’t only help it to run efficiently but will preserve its condition if you ever decide to put it up for sale, and first impressions are everything. The interior of a boat should be clean, plush, and vibrant at first glance. Here’s how to keep your boat’s interior looking fresh:


  • Cover your boat after each use
  • Wipe down your interior after each use
  • Use vinyl cleaner/conditioner frequently

Consider this a friendly reminder that a wash-down should include the upholstery too. If you need a rundown on how to detail your boat, check out this video.


Maximizing resale value can be as simple as making sure your boat is free of damage, chips, rust, and decay. Wiping down your boat after each use will prevent water spots. Applying wax at least once a year will help your boat maintain its brightness and color. When boats never get waxed and have long exposures in the sun, that perfect gel coat starts to fade. Got some chips in your fiberglass? Get that fixed. Ceramic coating is also a great option to protect the longevity of your exterior. It creates a solid surface that reflects sunlight, prevents damage, and keeps water spots from baking into the paint’s surface.


Boats track usage in hours, so think of engine hours like miles on a car. The more miles on a car means it has less value. The same applies to a boat: the more hours, the less value. But regularly servicing your engine is a great way to ensure its running properly and efficiently. Think cleaning the fuel tank, keeping it free of dirt, and protecting it from freezing in the winter (if you’re in a cold climate). Regular engine service is also a great way of reinsuring a future buyer of your boat’s value; that is if you keep your receipts. Evidence is key here.

Here’s are some more things to consider to keep your engine in tip-top shape:


  • Get your oil changed every 50 hours
  • Replace your raw water impellor every 200 engine hours
  • Frequently clean out your sea strainer
  • Take in your boat for proper winterization and summarization services

It’s important to replace your raw water impellor every 200 hours. The impeller brings fresh water from outside of the boat into the engine to keep it cool—so it’s kind of a big deal. Even if it’s still working, consider it a preventative measure to avoid emergency maintenance.


So, your boat is in great shape. You’ve spent time keeping it clean and have every professional service date and expense documented, but does the trailer have rust or damage? What condition is the bimini and boat cover in? Was the boat properly stored? It’s not just your boat that gets exposed to the elements over the course of a season.

A bent or rusty trailer is no good, and nobody wants a bimini or boat cover that’s rotting, ripped, or stinky, so be sure to keep them clean and dry. As for storage, indoor is the best way to regulate temperature and keep the boat dry. If your boat is exposed to constant freezing and thawing, you’re bound to run into damage and plenty of complications down the road.


Most boat warranties can be transferred from owner to owner, so if there’s still a warranty on a boat and a buyer can avoid paying out of pocket for repairs for a few more years, it’s extremely important to a boat’s value. For example, MasterCraft provides Mastercare, which is a five-year warranty and it’s transferable. Other manufacturers have different warranty lengths and eligibility restrictions.

Market Situation:

Boats require special attention to stay in tip-top shape, but with some extra attention, you can get some extra money in your pocket when you decide to sell. But the final truth about resale value: a lot depends on the current market situation. High demand and low inventory, you’re bound to see a good return. Vice versa, not so much.

We will see you on the water!

If you have any questions about your boat’s current value or service needs, visit your local Action Water Sports! We are more than happy to help!


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