So, you’re contemplating buying a pontoon and you’re scouting all of your options. Good on you for doing your fair share of due diligence. But while you scour the web and hunt for your boat on foot, you might find that there are a whole bunch of choices out there, not just in terms of models but also brands.
Because a pontoon boat is no simple purchase, you’re going to want to make sure you’re getting a watercraft that will live up to your expectations. And that means steering clear of brands that might not give your money justice. So you have to ask - are there any pontoon boat brands to avoid? Here’s the low down.
Are There Any Pontoon Boat Brands to Avoid?
The short answer? Well, not really. There aren’t any particular boat brands that you should try to avoid. Based on our standards, and the standards of many other boating enthusiasts and experts across various pontoon boating platforms, any boat that was manufactured in the last 20 years should be up to code.
Of course, that’s not to say there aren’t any nitty gritty details that could affect your satisfaction. Pontoon boats from different brands are designed with incredibly different features and amenities. So expect those finer details to impact your pontoon boat ownership experience.
However if we’re talking strictly about brands, there isn’t a specific name on the market that you should watch out for. Just make sure the boat you’re getting was released after the year 2000, and you should be a-okay.
What to Look for in Pontoon Boat Brands
While there aren’t any brands to avoid per se, there are a few things you might want to consider about each brand if you’re out here looking for the best fit for your preferences and standards. These considerations should help steer you in the right direction and hook you up with a boat that clicks with all of your expectations and needs.
Warranty and Service
How far are you willing to travel to get your boat repaired or serviced by the dealership or manufacturer? You might think that once your boat leaves that showroom, it’s never going back. But there’s a world of possibilities - even bad ones - that could happen to your boat once you take it home.
Most dealerships will offer to service your pontoon boat through the warranty provided by the manufacturer. This should help shave off a couple thousand dollars off of your maintenance expenses, especially if you’re boat meets any accidents or damages under your care.
Consider the length of the warranty, whether you can get the services done at the dealership, and how far you are from the place. Odds are, if the dealership is just a little too far for comfort, you’re going to end up getting repair services elsewhere, voiding your warranty.
Features and Amenities
Another thing that varies greatly between boat brands are the features and amenities that fix to each of their boats. Some are pretty stripped down, offering nothing but seating area and a place to set up a bimini top. Others are quite elaborate, with complete kitchens, bathrooms, and yes, even private bedrooms.
Understanding what you want to do on your boat should help you choose the right brand and the right model for your money’s worth. It’s also worth pointing out that some boat brands will offer add-on features after sale. For instance, if you can’t purchase a built-in bathroom today, you can buy the boat first and have the bathroom installed at a later date when you’ve got the dough for it.
Speed and Engine Power
On average, pontoon boats will run at a speed of about 25mph, which really isn’t a lot. But even then, engine power should be a top consideration if you’re looking to get your hands on something that will last. The stronger the engine, the less effort it will have to put into keeping your boat running, and thus the longer it should last.
If you’re planning on enjoying watersports like tubing or skiing, or if you just don’t have the patience to cruise to your next cove, you might want to consider a boat with at least 300 horsepower. But if you’re more interested in something a little more family friendly that glides at an easy, unbothered speed, find something between 150 and 300 horsepower.
Construction and Size
Here’s an area where pontoon boats tend to vary tremendously. You’ll notice that pontoon boat construction changes drastically between boat brands, and there are some that obviously pay more attention to quality and aesthetics with their ultra posh pontoon boat designs.
Some pontoon boats use through bolting instead of screwed on rails and decks, offering better durability and resilience than the latter. M-type brackets on your tubes are also a sign of premium construction and quality build.
When it comes to size, it’s really up to you. Anything between 17 and 19 feet should let you safely accommodate up to 8 passengers. Mid-sized boats from 20 to 22 feet hold well with up to 13 passengers on board. And then of course there are the larger 23 to 28 foot boats that can carry an average of 15 passengers or more.
Other Tips for Choosing a Boat Brand
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when choosing a boat brand is your budget. You might easily get carried away with all of the fancy choices and the different models, but if it’s not something you can sustain for the long haul, it might be best to check other options.
Another smart tip you can try when choosing a boat brand is to scour the used boat market. See how those used boats have held up against wear, tear, and time. Of course, it also pays to factor in how meticulously the boat owner maintained the pontoon while it was under his care. But you should get a pretty solid idea of how a brand will age by looking into the used boat market.
What’s in a Name?
Don’t be fooled by those flashy names and pontoon brand popularity. There’s a lot more to choosing a boat than simply basing it off of names. That said, there really aren’t any pontoon boat brands to avoid. But there are boat models that might not meet your expectations. See to it that you consider the nitty gritty details so you don’t end up spending that wad of cash on a boat that won’t satisfy.