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Our 1st Malibu but first...


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Hi there friends-my family and I are looking at buying our first Malibu in the next couple months. We are extremely excited and can't wait. With that said, we have been on the hunt for awhile which has led to us scratching our heads on trying to figure out exactly what we want. So I thought I'd run a few items buy you guys in the hopes of clearing up some of the confusion. 

First- lets start with what we want to do- our family wants to do it all (tube, ski, board, surf). We are a family of three and would like to have enough room to take friends and family out when we go. I have a 2017 F250 so weight of a boat isn't an issue. Our price range is between 40k-50k, which places us in the 2005-2008 year range from what I have seen. We understand that with the year and price range, we are buying a USED boat, meaning, we understand that the hours will be in the 600 range considering average use and it might have a couple blemishes. With that said, we are looking for a Malibu that is mechanically sound and has been maintained well.

In the "Subject Matter Experts"(you guys) opinion...

-What model should we be looking at? I had my heart set on a 247 LSV initially. However, I was informed that that size boat will be challenging for someone new to boating due to its size. Additionally, that boat had a 8.1L in it and I was informed that that motor guzzles the gas down which makes sense considering its size. I was also told that unless I was constantly taking large groups of folks out, there would be a lot of unused room most of the time. I have looked at a few 21 VLX, but they seem on the smaller side. I really like the 23 LSV, but there are not a lot of those out there and I think I understand why. 

-What is the difference between the LSV, VLX, and VTX? I'm sure this question has been asked before. Every time I think I have that question figured out, I come across new information that   conflicts with the previous information I found.

The wake hull will be great for for everything except for skiing correct? If I want to ski, buy a diamond hull correct?

Is there a year, model, and or motor we should stay away from? I was also told that I should not be shocked if when I'm looking at these boats, if I come across some guages that aren't working. Are items on Malibus easy to replace? Items like gauges, pumps, trim pieces, etc?

How much is to much when dealing with stereos? I saw one the other day that needed four batteries to power it. That seems like it would put a lot of strain on the electrical system considering the boat didn't come like that and wasn't designed for that.

If upholstery is the only thing holding us up on a purchase, how much can we expect to spend on redoing the interior of a boat? I'm sure it depends on size, but what is a general range you would expect to spend?

Thank you so much for all the help. The family and I can't wait to pull the trigger.  


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My opinion and I am stuck at home so here goes. Take a real hard look at your priorities first and that will narrow it down some. My first question would be how important is it to you to have a good ski wake? IMO a VD is kind of counter productive to having a good ski wake although you can get a pretty good ski wake from a VTX from what I am reading and others will chime in on that. You can get a smaller boat that is a good cross over (skis well, surfs and wake boards acceptably) at the sacrifice of room and rough water ride. Do you have any lake length restrictions or garage/barn storage requirements or issues that a smaller boat will address?

You can get the room, a better rough water ride (very subjective) and really good surf and wake board wakes at the loss of a good ski run. You can ski an LSV on the fringes, but it wont be enjoyable for someone who is used to a good ski boat. A larger boat IME specifically (2010 and a 2019 23 LSV) will require at least an 8' header in your garage door. From everything you mentioned, family of 3, tube, board, surf and have enough room to take friends out I would say that you will want to be looking for at least a 23' boat. There is no such thing as "unused room" on a boat. :biggrin: A boat is like a field of dreams, if you buy it they will come! Friends have kids and your kids have friends so your boat will fill up quick with people, coolers and other essential items and the room will disappear fast! Even in my 23, at times when we have friends on board I wished we would of gotten a 25, which I may well do next year and it is normally just my wife and I surfing. You have a good tow vehicle so no issues there.

No one ever bought a boat to save gas money, its a boat not a Prius. Although my M5 is crazy good compared to my old 350 Monsoon but that wasn't the concern when I ordered it, another story. The biggest complaints you will always read or hear about it seems to me is the noise of one like displacement engine over another, never about performance. Me personally, I wouldn't give it a second thought to what engine I ended up with unless I planned on running crazy weight in the boat. Except, given the option I would go with the bigger engine all things being equal between 2 choices. Why? For me engine wear, I personally hang on to a boat for a while so I want it to work easier so it will last. To a lesser degree the resale of which I have never had a problem getting top dollar for my smaller engine boats because I am OCD. I have had 2 Indmars, the M5 now and ride in and behind an H6/450 in Centurion FI25, the 6.2 Ilmor in a X55 and a number of Raptor motors in the SL Supra's and Moomba's and I really never paid much attention to it over all of the banter and laughing to be honest. But you can tell a difference between them all.

LSV's 23' and 25' and now 22' in the newer boats. VLX 21' and VTX 20' there are a couple inches thrown in the actual specs.

Diamond hull for skiing for sure.

No quote un quote, bad MY boats per say, just electrical gremlins are more prevalent in certain MYs it seems. Model year issues would be better addressed by the guys that have them. IIRC there are touch pad failure and screen delamination issue in certain MY boats. And on the older MY boats wedge sensor issues are starting to crop up. Common issues will be the aerator style ballast pumps. They are sucking in and puking out all manner of sludge, sand and gunk so they do go bad. Pretty cheap per at $40 or so and an easy fix. MUX switches are the rubber push buttoned control modules were running @ $250 per IIRC if you can find them. Trim pieces will be harder to find as time passes like most of those type of dress up parts are.

Batteries I have only ever had 2 in my LSVs and I had a set of Rev-10s on my 2010 and the 4 Rev-10s on my 2019 with absolutely no battery issues. Matter of fact I sold the 2010 with the original batteries in it in 2018. 3 words, on board charger!

Hours are another big concern for some. IMO my very first impression of the boat is going to heavily influence the level of importance I place on the number of the hours it has. That and a documented maintenance history owner or dealer maintained. If it looks like crap, it probably wasn't maintained at all! How many are too may hours, opinions vary. I have read where a well maintained boat motor should last between 2-3000 hours. I had 1024hrs on my 2010 350 without one issue. Had the oil surveyed at @800hrs and was told it looked great nothing to be concerned about. We almost exclusively surf and that was with the pre-surf gate lean to the surf side.

Upholstery work wont be cheap. I think you guys on the left coast have "Gabe" who is highly recommended. Expect to wait a while for any good upholstery work and there will probably not be an exact upholstery to match what you have in the boat.  Depending on the MYs, on my 2010 there were upholstery seam issues on the 3 back cushions. A very high traffic area for sure. For those 3 cushions between shipping, labor and materials I would guess that one would be looking at no less than $1500, but I could be way off.

Good luck


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@vanhagenm - From your description on activities a key to land on best option purchase, very carefully prioritize your activities and what is important.  You need to identify which event you want to compromise on, whether one or some of all.  Unfortunately, one model is not going to do all well.  As a first dedicated event boat purchase, I suggest you consider it one you will replace relatively soon after purchase as you will probably modify your whats important list once you start using it.  Basically, it means purchase one that will have good resale desire (no weird colors, combinations, etc).  Good luck and happy hunting.  Your question is actually one that many struggle with in determining the best fit for them.  Also, I suggest testing before you buy, no replacement to you actually seeing for yourself how it performs.  Do all of the key activities and see if it meets your expectations.

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Former 2006 VLX (21' 6") owner here. First off, welcome to the Crew and congrats on taking the first few steps towards the wake boat plunge! It can be frustrating and time consuming to find the right one for you and your family, but I promise it is all worth it the first time you get out on the lake!

@wdr got you started off in a great place and I'm not sure I disagree with any of the points made. I will add a couple points below based on the 8+ years that particular boat was in our family:

  • Capability: These 2005-2008 models are incredibly versatile boats, way more so than the newer ones that handle wake sports well or ski sports well (save maybe the new VTX). All will have good wakeboard wakes, a sizable surf wake (with additional ballast and a wake shaper), and manageable ski wakes. We skied many a times behind ours, and while it wasn't anything you'd want to take through a course, the common skier would be just fine. Tubing... well I won't go there :no:
  • Size: The 21 VLX worked great for us, most commonly with 4-5 adults and their gear. I think if you're consistently at 6-7 adults you'd want to look at the 23 LSV or 247 for your year. If towing and storage aren't limits and your budget gets you into the bigger boat, do it. Having spent a ton of time in various Malibu models, I don't put a ton of stock into the "247 might be challenging to a new boater because of it's size" advice. All inboard boats take some getting used to (specifically backing and maneuvering around a trailer/dock), but the 23 to 247 gap is not that large.
  • Engine: The Monsoon 350 is a great base motor for most of these boats, except for maybe the 247 or a 23 LSV at higher elevation. Again, times have changed and the new Malibu motors are ridiculous in comparison, but you'll have the power and reliability for most any activity you choose to pursue. As for fuel economy, get yourself a Costco membership and act surprised overtime you "save" money fueling it up. 
  • Fit/Finish: These model boats were generally very reliable, with each having its own quirk that arose over time. That 2006 was actually the best I've had as far as reliability goes; in fact not a single major issue over the 8+ years we enjoyed it. There is a lot more tech in the new boats and while its awesome, electrical gremlins are much more common nowadays.
  • Hours/Condition: As WDR said, I prefer to look at how the boat was maintained before worrying specifically about hours. I'd take a very well maintained boat with a little higher than average hours over a boat that has low hours but was otherwise neglected. If you take care of them and do the normal maintenance, these things will take care of you back (well beyond 1000 hours IME).
  • Colors: @Woodski makes a good point above in regards to resale (if that matters to you). Find something that you like and understand how those colors play in the market if/when the time comes to trade up. Black can be a little more challenging to maintain, but with some effort and elbow grease, any of the gel colors back then will holdup.
  • Stereo: This is one you're sure to get plenty of input on, mainly because people want different things. 2 batteries is a great idea for any boat, and becomes critical as the stereo size grows. Just remember that just because someone sunk $15,000 in a stereo a few years ago, it doesn't mean that you can add that value straight to a boat's bottomline. Most sellers don't seem to immediately understand that.

That's some of my thoughts for now. If I come up with anything else I'll be sure to share. You're in good company with this group and there'll be a person for about every answer around here. Best of luck and keep us in the loop when you find something!

Off to help Wilson's @ the OKC boatshow. Have a good weekend

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  • 2 weeks later...

I do not have much to add to this post, but I am the original owner of a 2007 Wakesetter VLX we have almost 1000 hours on it and it has been well taken care. We put it in on Friday or Saturday and pull it out on Sunday... We wipe it down really well at the boat ramp (if everyone helps this just takes a few minutes) and then put it back in the garage (we are fortunate to have that luxury). I think that the biggest thing is to keep the weather out of the boat (probably even more so with the newer ones with all the electronics)... I will say that Gabe does a great job if you need vinyl and you are in California so that may be an option for you... I am in the process of having all my vinyl replaced with skins that I purchased from him (he has most of the original vinyl colors and the factory patterns for older boats). I am in SC so the shipping was expensive and then I am having a local shop do the labor, but if I was close I would have had him do it. We have been really happy with our 21.5' VLX, but when we upgrade in a few years, I will probably go with a 23. We did for several years have a regular crew that consisted of 4 adults and 2 smaller children. It was cozy, but extra space would have been nice (and we almost never had anyone in the bow) all the stuff for that many especially with small kids takes up space though. 

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