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Purchase Inspection Tips - Looking at a 1999 Malibu Sunsetter LXI

Toronto Boater

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My search for Sunsetter LXI continues.

I have put a deposit down and am looking at one tomorrow. It is a 1999 SSLXI, in apparently good condition. One owner, Monsoon 325 hp engine. Regularly maintained at the dealer. Oil checks every year or so, regular impeller replacements, transmission fluid.

Any tips for my inspection would be appreciated. I am newbie to inboard boats.

I have this checklist http://milehighwakeboarding.com/Supporting-Pages/what-to-look-for-when-buying-a-new-boat.html#10

Any others would be appreciated.

I will have a compression test and a leak down test done. What should the compression readings range be for this engine?

I want to ensure no major red flags.

Would any repaired cracks in the block be easily visible?

Many thanks.

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I have always inspected the bilge looking for oil residue or anything else that might catch me off guard. Like your checklist says, usually on an older boat like this you can tell how it was taken care of by the looks. When I bought my 2000 VLX, it was a 2 owner boat, even with it being in excellent condition inside and out, the motor and v drive was my main concern. Aesthetics can usually be replaced cheaper than motor/transmission parts. On the other hand, starters, alternators, etc can be a cheap fix if you can DIY. When test driving, listen for sounds like whining in the transmission, knocking in the motor, and note any vibrations in the driveline. 360 hrs is nothing on these boats if they are maintained right. Check fluids such as oil in motor/transmission, air filter for cleanliness,check your bilge pump/blowers, guages, etc. Look at plug wires and rotor for residue build up. Not sure about a repaired block, maybe someone else can chime in about that. GOOD LUCK!

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Yes, check the bilge for oil residue. I had to replace the oil pan in my 99 VLX due to a small rust spot around the drain, not cheap to replace. Not common, but not unheard of either.

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Yes - I will be lake testing it tomorrow.

The 99 SSLXI, (and some other of this era) have a speedometer that gets input from a pair of pitot tubes mounted by the exhaust. These tubes connect to a Medaillion Dash Computer (MDC) under the dashboard.

So, after you test drive check under the dash to see if their is water dripping from the MDC. If there is water dripping on your feet from the MDC that is a sign to you that the MDC has failed to keep the water out of the MDC and will fail shortly. I think you can still order a new MDC. I ordered mine from Bakes, it had to be custom built by MDC as no one keeps them in inventory. Cost was/is $350 or so.

If you buy the boat, promptly disconnect the pitot tubes from under the MDC. Replace the pitot tubes with a GPS speedometer. http://www.nauticlaugic.com/nl2.html

Or you could just do as I did and wait until the water starts dripping on your feet, the MDC fails and then replace it and add the NL2.

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My advice: take someone else to give you an objective view. I am (typically) mechanically inclined. But I missed sooooo much reviewing the boat I bought last year. I attribute it to _really_ wanting a boat :).

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Check around here. There is a checklist in the maintenance section I believe. From what I understand, this boat is in exceptional condition. Heed Bozboat's advice as well as eyekode's. They are both right on.

Here is TMC's used boat buying tips.

Some points of mine based on past experience.

  1. Put the boat through its paces. Run it hard, run it slow, run it average. Listen for noises, think about vibrations, etc.
  2. Run the boat at WOT for a while, and simply drop it to neutral or idle and see if it sputters, coughs, or stalls.
  3. Check ALL the fluids after running it for a while.
  4. Check the drip rate on the packing when in idle. Have the sales dude drive while you do it. You're looking for 1 drip every 10 seconds.
  5. Have the dealer fill the bilge for you when you look at it to see if the HDS leaks. They may tell you that it doesn't but seeing for yourself is great piece of mind. If they fill the bilge to the top of the HDS cover and you see water leak near the prop shaft, then you have an HDS leak.
  6. Check for leaks at all the hose connections and the petcock drains on the block.

Write a check, and take the boat home.

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Thanks for all the helpful advice. I just received the results from the leak down test (3-5%) and compression test (all cyllnders either 185 or 190)

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dumb question but if you have a perfect pass and don't use the speedometer gauge, then you don't need the NL2 or MDC do you?

On a boat with th MDC and perfect pass you would not need the NL2, but you would need the MDC. I would still check to see if the pitot tubes were still attached to the MDC.

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