Does Your Boat Come with a Warranty?

Should You Look for a Boat with a Warranty?

If you buy a new boat, it will probably come with a warranty of 1 to 2 years. But what exactly does this warranty cover? Do all boats have a warranty? And what steps can you take to protect your purchase if there isn't a warranty available?

The Basics of Boat Warranties

Let's start by going over the basics of boat warranties. Just like in other industries, a warranty is meant to provide the purchaser some degree of protection; if something goes wrong with the boat, you can use the warranty to fix whatever went wrong, typically at no cost to the purchaser. Warranties are typically long, complicated legal documents that are hard for average people to understand; however, in practice, warranties are relatively simple.

There is no legal requirement for boat manufacturers to include a warranty for purchasers (though the Federal Lemon Law in the U.S. can protect consumers in some instances). Instead, boat manufacturers typically see warranties as a win-win; consumers get to feel more confident and enjoy more protection with their purchase, and manufacturing brands typically see more sales when consumers have faith in what they're purchasing.

Some boat warranties are truly comprehensive, covering anything that goes wrong with the vessel during the first one or two years of operation. Others are more specific, covering only specific elements of the boat, like the hull. The duration of the warranty typically depends on the nature of the boat element that it covers and the confidence of the manufacturer. Some boat manufacturers are even willing to put a lifetime warranty on major structural elements like the hull. Components with more moving pieces that are more subject to wear and tear, like the engine, typically have shorter warranties.

There's usually nothing you need to do to gain access to these warranties; they're automatically provided to you when you buy a new vessel. In some cases, you may have the option to purchase an extended warranty, paying more money upfront for extended warranty coverage.

During your course of ownership, if you encounter anything wrong with your vessel that's covered by your warranty, you can make a claim. If you do, you'll typically take your boat to an authorised dealer or a location owned by your manufacturer, and have the work officially completed.

Full and Splintered Warranties

The structure of the warranty (or warranties) you receive will depend on how the boat was manufactured. If all the structural elements of your boat were made in the same place and assembled by the same company, you'll probably only have one comprehensive warranty, perhaps with some specific details about which parts of the boat are covered and for how long.

However, it's increasingly common for warranties to be splintered, offered by different companies and with different types of coverage. For example, if the boat manufacturer purchased an engine for the boat from a separate company, that separate company may be responsible for providing the warranty for the engine, specifically.

New vs. Used Boat Warranties (and Extended Warranties)

Warranties are a given for most purchases of new vessels. But what about used vessels?

In most arrangements, when you buy a used boat, you're buying it as is. You assume at least some risk, and most manufacturers aren't willing to stand by their product with a warranty once it's been owned for many years and sold to someone else.

However, as we'll see, there are some exceptions to this norm. In some cases, an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) warranty can be transferred to you when you buy a used vessel, and in others, the used vessel seller may be willing to provide you with a limited warranty of their own.

Transferring a Warranty

In general, warranties are non-transferable. Even if your boat has a lifetime hull warranty, it probably won't transfer to a new owner if you choose to sell the vessel. That said, many manufacturers have rules and guidance for selling vessels and transferring warranties; for a small fee, or in exchange for filling out some paperwork, you may be able to transfer the remainder of your warranty to someone else.

How Warranties Are Voided

Keep in mind that most warranties have some conditions attached. If you violate the rules and restrictions of the warranty, the manufacturer may no longer honour it. For example, if you do unauthorised work on the vessel that results in its degradation, the manufacturer probably won't be willing to undo whatever damage you did for free.

These are the best ways to avoid voiding your warranty:

  • Work with an official dealer. When it's time to get work done for your warranty, work directly with an official dealer. Make sure you understand the rules and limitations of your warranty arrangement.
  • Get other work preapproved. If you want to have work done on your vessel by a non-official individual or organisation, get the work pre-approved by your manufacturer first.
  • Keep thorough records. Always keep thorough records of the work you've done on your vessel, including a list of the products you've used.

Is a Warranty Truly Necessary?

Do you really need a warranty for your boat?

The short answer is no, but it’s still nice to have. If a manufacturer is willing to support their product with a long, borderline unconditional warranty, you can rest easy knowing that this is a solid, reliable product. And the vast majority of new boats stay in great condition for many years, so long as they're properly maintained. Still, buying a boat is a major investment, and having the warranty gives you some extra assurance and some extra protection to give you peace of mind.

Buying a used boat is naturally somewhat riskier, though a few steps of due diligence are usually ample to ensure the quality and integrity of your purchase. If your used boat doesn’t come with a warranty, you should take some extra steps to ensure your purchase is valid and protected.

  • Buy from a reliable broker or platform. Instead of buying directly from an individual, consider going through a broker or a platform with a good reputation. If there are any problems with your purchase, this broker can help mediate them.
  • Do your due diligence. Before making a purchase, always do your due diligence. Can you find out if this boat was ever in an accident? Is this a reliable brand? What was the original warranty for this vessel like? And is it transferrable?
  • Inspect the vessel. Don't buy a used boat until you've had the opportunity to inspect it or have it officially reviewed by a professional boat inspector. In most cases, you'll have no natural warranty protection, so it's on you to make sure all components of the boat are in place and functional.
  • Avoid overpaying. Finally, avoid overpaying for a used vessel. That way, if something goes wrong, you can keep your losses to a minimum.

Are you in the market for a new or used boat? Do you want to make sure your purchase is adequately protected – and capable of lasting for many years? You’ve come to the right place. TheYachtMarket has thousands of new and used vessels available for your perusal and consideration – so check out what we have to offer today!

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