Are Pontoon Boats Expensive to Maintain?


Guy cleaning pontoon boat

We all know that pontoon boats require quite an initial investment. New pontoon boats are not cheap. Used pontoon boats aren’t much cheaper. But once you buy the boat the costs aren’t finished there. Maintenance costs may be a hassle but maintaining such an expensive boat is important if you want to protect your investment and stay safe on the water. But, how much does it cost to maintain a pontoon boat and is it expensive?

Maintaining a pontoon boat is fairly expensive. If you plan to outsource all the maintenance work, expect to pay about 1% of the cost of the boat. Some maintenance work can be carried out by the owner, such as cleaning the boat and the upholstery. Other maintenance work requires specialists, such as a mechanic for motor servicing. Average maintenance costs for a pontoon boat owner with a hands-on approach will range from $600 – $1,200 per year. If you need to store your boat in a marina then you can expect to pay between $1,500 – $2,500. Average winterizing costs for a pontoon boat are between $250 – $500.

How much does it cost to maintain a pontoon boat?

Taking the plunge and buying a pontoon boat can put a dent in your pocket. These boats are not cheap. In fact, pontoon boats are some of the most expensive shallow water vessels you can buy.

With the cost of a new pontoon boat ranging from $18,000 to $100,000 or more, buying a new pontoon boat is not a small investment to make. Even a used vessel will set you back between $25,000 – $80,000 depending on the age of the boat and the extra features it has, because pontoon boats hold their value so well.

Add to this all those little extras you will want on your high-end boat and the costs of buying one of these luxury vessels soon starts to spiral upwards. So, it stands to reason that anyone who splashes out large amounts of money on a luxury boat will want to look after it.

Maintaining your pontoon boat is not only necessary to ensure it remains safe on the water but it protects your investment. Pontoon boats hold their value very well, especially compared to other boat types. A well maintained used pontoon boat can sell for a price that is surprisingly close to its original purchase cost.

So, as you might expect, maintaining such an expensive boat is not cheap.

Typical maintenance costs

So how much does it cost for maintenance of a pontoon boat?

If you plan to hand off the maintenance of your pontoon boat to a third party then you can expect pay about 1% of the cost of the boat.

Below is a list of typical costs associated with pontoon boat maintenance based on an owner who is willing to perform some maintenance tasks himself/herself – such as cleaning the boat.

  • Cleaning the boat – $50.
  • Upholstery cleaning – $20 – $250.
  • Engine service – $130 – $180. This only covers labor costs. If the motor needs parts they will be extra.
  • Oil replacement – $50.
  • Checking and replacing propellers – $0 – $200.
  • Winterizing the boat -$250 – $500.
  • Electrical, mechanical and hull repairs – costs can range from zero to less than 100 dollars right up to several thousand dollars.

To understand the costs associated with these maintenance activities we must look at what they involve.

Typical maintenance requirements

  • Washing the boat, top and bottom.
  • Upholstery cleaning.
  • Engine service.
  • Replacing oil.
  • Checking/replacing propellers.
  • Winterizing the boat.
  • Electrical and mechanical and hull repairs.

Let’s take a closer look at these maintenance requirements and the costs associated with them.

Washing the the top and bottom of the boat

You need to wash the entire hull of your boat, including the pontoons, at then end of the winter season. When the spring/summer months come round and its time to hit the water you need to wash your boat.

A simple car wash soap and water solution is all you need for the fiberglass parts of your boat. Be sure to rinse off the soap well after cleaning to avoid soap layer build-up on the boat.

For the aluminum parts of your pontoon boat, like the pontoons, you need to use a special marine-grade aluminum cleaner. This type of cleaner will not only help remove grime and build-up on your boat but it restores the polish to the metal and also protects it.

You can, and should, clean your pontoon boat yourself as this will cost you no more than the price of the cleaning solutions – about $50.

Cleaning the upholstery

Keeping the upholstery on a pontoon boat in good condition will help the boat retain its value as it ages. It also makes the boat look better.

Newer boats require a simple and quick rub down with an upholstery cleaner. I find that something like the Febreze renewal formula works well to clean the upholstery and leave it with a nice fresh smell for week or two.

For older boats, and if you have used your pontoon boat as a floating party house, then you may need to dig into your pocket a little deeper and invest in a good steam cleaner. There is no need to break the bank with this as you can get a cheap deep cleaner that is both portable and affordable.

A steam cleaner , along with a good upholstery cleaning solution, will help remove food and beverage stains as well as general dirt and grime.

Costs will range from $20 for a cleaning solution to about $250 for the cleaning solution and a portable steam cleaner.

Engine service

Unless you are mechanically minded you will need to pay a professional to give your pontoon boat motor a service.

The basic motor size for pontoon boats is 115 hp.

The cost for basic service for a 1115 hp outboard motor will amount to about two service hours.

Although it differs from state to state, and even county to county, the average labor costs for a motor service will be between $65 – $90 per hour. It will take 2 hours or less to service an outboard motor on a pontoon boat (unless it is damaged) and so you can expect to pay $130 – $180.

Oil replacement

This is another job you can easily do yourself.

Be sure to dispose of the oil you remove in an environmentally-friendly manner. Do not dump it down the drain!

It is good practice to change the oil in your boat once a year. Be sure to use the correct oil for your outboard’s engine.

The cost of an oil change when you do it yourself should be no more than the price of the oil, about $50, though you can ask the service engineer or mechanic to do it when he looks over your outboard motor.

Checking the prop

You can easily check the propeller on your boat yourself.

A visual check is usually all that is needed unless you think that something is wrong, if for example you have felt the boat handling differently or unusually when out on the water.

Apart from giving the prop a quick clean, using your store-bought soap solution, the only other cost you will incur will be for replacement parts.

If you need to replace propeller then you can expect to pay between $100 – $200.

Winterizing the boat

Winterizing your boat is a fairly simple process but it does cost money. Firstly you need to protect the fuel in the tank. Fuel can degrade while sitting over the winter months so it is a good idea to use a solution to keep your fuel fresh. This costs about $20.

Fogging oil is another essential winterizing product. This protective oil is specially formulated for marine engines and will protect your motor’s cylinder walls, piston rings and combustion chamber surfaces from rust and corrosion during winter storage. For less than 15 bucks it’s a great way to protect your expensive outboard motor.

The last essential product you will need is some good antifreeze. A good antifreeze coolant combination is the best choice and best value for money. This costs about $35.

Finally use use a good quality cover to protect your boat from the elements. Covers cost between $100 – $170.

The cost of winterizing a pontoon boat will be between $250 – $500.

Electrical, mechanical and hull repairs

Obviously the costs associated with repairs can vary greatly depending on the problem.

If you have no repairs to make in a given year you will thus incur zero repair costs. However, you may find that a problem develops on your boat that ends up costing you thousands of dollars to fix.

Depending on the problem you encounter you may have to only spend a few dollars on a replacement fixture or several thousand dollars on extensive hull repairs. You may have to spend nothing if the boat is in good working order.

Running costs

Of course maintenance costs are not the only costs that you will incur when you own and operate a pontoon boat. There are also running costs to consider.

Below are some common running costs associated with owning a pontoon boat:

  • Marina rentals costs – $1,500 to $2,500 per year.
  • Boat insurance – £100 to $360 per year.
  • Maintenance costs – $1,000 per year.
  • State boating license – $50 to $75 per year.
  • Cost of gas and fuel – dependent on your own usage.
  • Taxes, title, and registration fees – will differ from state to state.

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