Long ago, in what seems like a galaxy far, far away,
warranties on most boats and marine engines were limited in
scope and lasted for no more than a year. They were buried
deep in the fine print on the backs of sales brochures. They
listed more exclusions than covered items and rarely, if ever, figured into
the marketing schemes of manufacturers.
Like most creatures in the universe, warranties have evolved.
Now, boats from entry level to yacht quality have multi-layered,
multi-year boat guarantees that give coverage specific to the
hull and deck structures, as well as parts and equipment. Some
even promise lifetime coverage for hull structures. Virtually
all guarantees are transferable to subsequent owners. Slight
differences from one policy to the next make it clear that
companies view their guarantees as a means to differentiate
themselves from their competitors.
Many companies post their warranties online, another break
with the past that makes it easier for boat buyers to compare
coverage. The following overview of warranties for various
cruiser boat models shows that coverage is all over the map.
TIARA: five-year warranties for hull and deck structures,
as well as the cockpit.
SEA RAY: five years on hull structures and pro-rated
coverage against blister damages.
BAYLINER: lifetime hull warranty, five-year coverage
for the deck and a year of coverage for components, plus five-year
pro-rated coverage for blister damages.
LARSON BOATS: lifetime hull warranty, five years of
coverage for blister damages, as well as boat components, engines,
power trains and trailers for five years; towing costs and
repairs of components like TVs and stereo systems are also
GRADY-WHITE: lifetime warranty on stringer grid and
warranty on factory rigging of engine controls, wiring and
CARVER YACHTS: entire boat covered for two years,
structural fiberglass parts and components of the hull and
deck are warranted for 10 years and gel coat blisters for five
CROWNLINE: Lifetime warranty on deck, hull, transom
and stringers; five-year warranty on canvas, engine and powertrain,
upholstery, stainless steel and blister.
engine warranties, the standard is now three years. But,
this spring, rival engine makers even began promoting longer
no-cost warranty extensions of up to five years for Honda
(“True 5”) and six years for Suzuki (“Gimme
Six”) and Mercury Marine (“Get the Best,” which
ended in June, and another as-yet-unnamed promotion this summer).
Mercury has taken the step of offering coverage against corrosion
changes? Why now? And does this new focus on customer service
by some in the industry amount to a high tide that floats
all boats, the “good guys” and the mediocre
a decade ago as a marine industry effort to bolster stagnant
boat sales has evolved into a full-fledged effort called
the Grow Boating initiative by the National Marine Manufacturers
Association. Grow Boating’s customer service index
(CSI) evaluation for dealers works in tandem with Discover
Boating, an ambitious campaign to promote the boating lifestyle
through television and print ads. NMMA now also requires
its boatbuilder members to participate in its certification
program to verify that new boat models meet not only U.S.
Coast Guard regulations but also the more rigorous standards
established by the American Boat and Yacht Council.
industry has accepted as a fact of life what it once viewed
as a liability — that
the boating public compares boats to automobiles and expects
similar levels of service and quality. The goal is to handle
customer service accordingly.
complete description of warranty coverage and exclusions,
contact the manufacturer. Written or express warranties are
different from extended service contracts, sometimes called “extended
warranties,” which cost extra and are essentially third-party
repair insurance policies. Written manufacturer’s warranties
create specific legal obligations on the part of the manufacturer.
They are considered part of the “basis of the bargain” when
buying a new product and, as such, do not cost extra.
should always read warranties before making a major purchase
and should also try to get a feel for how companies handle
warranty matters and other customer issues. That’s
where BoatU.S. can help. Check out our consumer protection
database (go to BoatUS.com/consumer/database.aspx or call 703-461-2856),
a members-only reference with thousands of reports from across
Copyright BoatU.S. Magazine, July 2007