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How to Buy a Pontoon Boat

Pontoon boats are a popular choice for recreational boaters because of their versatility, stability, and ample space for passengers and gear. If you’re in the market for a pontoon boat, there are several factors to consider to ensure that you purchase the right vessel for your needs. In this post, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide on how to buy a pontoon boat.

Step 1: Determine Your Budget

Before you begin shopping for a pontoon boat, you should first determine your budget. Pontoon boats can vary widely in price, depending on factors such as size, features, and brand. It’s essential to establish a realistic budget for your purchase, taking into account not just the initial cost of the boat, but also ongoing expenses such as maintenance, storage, and fuel.

Step 2: Consider Your Needs

Once you have established your budget, you should consider your needs in a pontoon boat. Some key factors to consider include:

  • Intended use: Are you planning to use your pontoon boat for fishing, watersports, or leisurely cruises?
  • Capacity: How many passengers do you expect to carry on your pontoon boat? Will you need a large deck space for activities, or are you primarily concerned with seating capacity?
  • Features: Do you want a boat with a canopy or a full enclosure for protection from the sun and rain? Are you interested in a sound system or other entertainment options?
  • Engine type: Do you want a pontoon boat with an outboard or inboard engine? What horsepower do you need for your intended use?

By answering these questions, you can narrow down your options and focus on pontoon boats that meet your specific needs.

Step 3: Research Brands and Models

Once you have a clear understanding of your needs, you can begin researching different brands and models of pontoon boats. Some popular pontoon boat brands include Bennington, Sun Tracker, and Harris. Each brand offers different models with varying features and price points.

When researching pontoon boats, consider the following factors:

  • Construction: Look for boats with durable construction and quality materials that will stand up to the elements and regular use.
  • Performance: Consider the boat’s speed, maneuverability, and stability in different water conditions.
  • Features: Look for boats with features that meet your specific needs and preferences, such as seating capacity, storage options, and entertainment systems.
  • Customer reviews: Research online reviews and ratings from current and past owners of the boats you’re considering.

Step 4: Visit a Dealership

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, visit a dealership to see the pontoon boats in person. This will allow you to get a feel for the boat’s construction, layout, and features. Be sure to ask the dealer any questions you have about the boat and its features, as well as questions about financing options, warranties, and service plans.

During your visit to the dealership, consider the following factors:

  • Deck space: Is there enough room on the deck for your intended use? Is there adequate seating and storage space?
  • Construction: Does the boat feel solid and well-constructed? Are the materials high-quality and durable?
  • Features: Do the boat’s features meet your needs and preferences? Are they easy to use and access?
  • Performance: If possible, take the boat out for a test drive to assess its speed, maneuverability, and stability.

Step 5: Consider Financing Options

If you decide to purchase a pontoon boat, you’ll need to consider financing options. Many dealerships offer financing plans that allow you to spread the cost of the boat over several years. Before committing to a financing plan, be sure to read the terms carefully, including the interest rate, monthly payments, and any penalties for early repayment.

Step 6: Plan for Ongoing Expenses

After purchasing your pontoon boat, you’ll need to plan for ongoing expenses such as maintenance, storage, and fuel. Pontoon boats require regular maintenance to keep them in good condition, including engine maintenance, cleaning, and winterization. You’ll also need to consider storage options for your boat, such as a marina or storage facility, which can add to the cost.

In addition to maintenance and storage, you’ll also need to budget for fuel costs. Pontoon boats can be fuel-efficient, but the amount of fuel you’ll need will depend on the boat’s size and engine type, as well as how often you use it.

Step 7: Obtain Insurance

Before taking your pontoon boat out on the water, you’ll need to obtain insurance. Pontoon boat insurance can protect you in the event of an accident or damage to the boat. It’s important to shop around for insurance options and compare policies to ensure that you’re getting the coverage you need at a reasonable price.

Step 8: Familiarize Yourself with Boating Regulations

Before taking your pontoon boat out on the water, be sure to familiarize yourself with local boating regulations. Each state has its own regulations regarding boating safety, including requirements for life jackets, navigation lights, and other safety equipment. It’s also important to follow rules of the waterways, such as speed limits and no-wake zones.

Step 9: Enjoy Your New Pontoon Boat

Once you’ve completed the above steps, it’s time to enjoy your new pontoon boat! Whether you’re cruising on the lake, fishing with friends, or enjoying watersports, your pontoon boat provides a versatile and enjoyable way to spend time on the water. With proper care and maintenance, your pontoon boat can provide years of enjoyment for you and your family.


Buying a pontoon boat requires careful consideration of your needs and budget, as well as research into different brands and models. By following the steps outlined in this post, you can make an informed decision and find a pontoon boat that meets your specific needs and preferences. With proper care and maintenance, your pontoon boat can provide years of enjoyable boating experiences

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