Bayliner is a brand that has been around since 1957.
They have a reputation for being introductory-level boats and a mixed reputation for quality.
The prospective buyer needs to know: Are they any good?
Here’s how good Bayliner boats are:
Bayliner makes boats that are good for beginners. They have had many problems in the past, mostly related to the quality of the construction materials and process. More recent models have been manufactured to a higher standard. They are still at the low end of the market in terms of quality.
A Brief History Of Bayliner Boats
Orin Edson started Bayliner in 1957.
Originally made of plywood, by the mid-1960s, the Bayliners were being made of fiberglass, though wood was still used in laying out the hulls and in the stringers.
In 1985, they were acquired from Edson by the Brunswick Boat Group, part of the larger Brunswick Corporation. They purchased Sea Ray boats at the same time.
Currently, Bayliner is the largest manufacturer of recreational boats in the world. They have had two plants in Tennessee, one in Washington, and worldwide plants in Mexico, South America, and Portugal.
In reaction to the evolving marine market, Brunswick has closed or sold 14 plants worldwide since 2006. This includes the Knoxville plant, where Bayliners had been made for a long time.
The Bayliner manufacturing was moved out in 2013, and all production in that plant ceased, and it was closed in 2021.
They currently make deck boats, bowriders, and center consoles ranging from 16 to 26 feet. This has been the case since 2012, when Brunswick drooped the cabin cruisers from their lines to reflect global buying trends.
How Reliable Are Bayliner Boats?
Despite the less-than-stellar reputation Bayliner has built up over the decades, they are still a strong seller.
More recent models have had fewer problems than older Bayliners due mostly to higher standards in manufacturing.
There are reports in online forums of breakdowns with recent Bayliners, such as in the wiring harnesses, but this does not seem to be any greater than other brands for current models.
Even among detractors, there is the acknowledgment that modern Bayliners have much improved their overall reliability.
They will not compare favorably to better-manufactured brands, but they seem to hold their own with comparably-priced brands from a reliability standpoint.
How Durable Are Bayliner Boats?
The construction process of a Bayliner boat still uses a lot of plywood in the hull. The hull is laid out in wood before being covered in fiberglass, and the stringers are made from plywood.
The grade of marine plywood is better than in the 1970s and 1980s, so it is more resistant to rot, but it is still a potential weakness. Some owners have said the plywood is treated with a primer rather than being sealed.
The stringer bonding is better than earlier models but can still fail in conditions of prolonged pounding. Also, steel staples are used in some areas and can rust if water gets into the hull.
The quality of the upkeep that a boat has received is of primary importance in a boat’s ultimate durability.
This is perhaps more important with Bayliners than other comparable models, as they will exhibit problems quickly if not properly taken care of.
What About Older Bayliner Boats?
Older Bayliners do not have an outstanding reputation.
They were relatively cheap boats, and the lesser quality of the materials and manufacturing process are why.
There are many Bayliners from decades ago still on the water, however. The truth here is that any boat can last if properly maintained, even those that commonly require repairs and rebuilding. So even boats built during the periods perceived to have consistent construction problems can be durable.
There is no doubt, however, that there were many problems with older models in general. Over 3,000 have had recalls over the years.
The takeaway here is that if an older boat was maintained, it could be durable. But in general, an older Bayliner will not be as reliable as a comparable model of a similar vintage.
Do They Still Make Parts For Older Models?
Parts for recent Bayliners are commonly available through the company’s network of over 400 dealers.
They are also easy to find from online retailers such as Great Lakes Skipper.
A large number of parts for older Bayliners are still being manufactured, as well. The part numbers have changed, though. Bayliner’s customer care has a pdf available that lists the new and legacy part numbers for ease of identification.
Some legacy parts are no longer being made, however. Tracking them down is difficult.
The best place to start is with a dealer, as they may have legacy parts at their facility or access to them through the dealer network.
There are also owners’ groups with online presences willing to help locate out-of-production parts, such as the Bayliner Owners Club.
Some owners searching for old parts have reported success by contacting salvage yards. Given how widespread Bayliner boats have been over the decades, many have been junked.
This is a time-consuming route but ultimately may be successful.
What Are Typical Problems With Bayliner Boats?
There have been a large number of typical problems with Bayliner boats over the years.
These are caused by the lesser quality of some of the materials used and the manufacturing process.
The construction standards in earlier models led to structural problems, like hulls cracking under the stress of pounding through ocean waves.
Like chrome-plated zinc being used instead of stainless steel, poor quality materials led to fittings rotting around the boat.
For a more detailed breakdown of Bayliner’s typical problems, check out our article: 5 Most-Common Problems With Bayliner Boats (With Examples)
How Long Do Bayliner Boats Last Compared To Similar Brands?
Bayliner boats do not last particularly long compared to similar brands.
Their lower price comes from cheaper methods of construction and materials, and this impacts their durability.
Well-maintained Bayliners can certainly be found and have obviously lasted, but they require more upkeep than other brands, particularly earlier models.
This is because of their construction materials and methods.
They do not hold up to pounding through water over time, mostly because the plywood in the hull and stringer system can crack, as the hull flexes more than other brands.
Do Bayliner Boats Hold Their Value?
In general, Bayliners do not hold their value particularly well.
This is due to two factors: the perception that Bayliners are not quality-built and the large numbers of used Bayliners for sale.
It is easy to find people complaining about Bayliner on the internet. This is mostly confined to forums, from some owners, and from people who dislike the brand. Reviews, particularly of the more recent models, are usually more even-handed in their evaluation.
Because of the sheer number of Bayliners produced over the years and are still being made, there is an abundance of them on the secondary market. This factor alone drives down the price, as there are always used models available.
The perception that Bayliners are lesser quality boats – partially earned but often exaggerated – and the sheer number of used models on the market drives down their value.
This is not desirable from a current owner’s viewpoint, but a prospective buyer can get an excellent deal on a decent boat with a bit of searching.
Are Bayliner Boats Still Being Made?
Bayliners are still being produced to this day. They make bowriders, deck boats, and center consoles.
They make 8 models of deck boats, ranging from the 15-foot Element M15, priced at $14 699, to the 26-foot Element XR7, priced at just over $50,000.
Their center consoles come in 6 models, beginning with the 18-f00t Bay 18, which sells for $23,700. This range tops out 22 feet with the T22CC, priced at $44,965, and the T22CX, which retails at $43,548.
Their bowrider line consists of 8 models. The smallest is the 16-foot 160 Bowrider which has a retail price of $18,452.
The largest bowrider is the 22-foot VR6, available in two models at either $40,723 or $38,309 for the Outboard model.
Bayliners are cheaper boats, built and designed with beginners in mind.
Because of this, they are more prone to problems than most brands being made, but those made in the last two decades are generally of better quality than the earlier models.
While none of them are considered a good investment, you can still find a good and reliable Bayliner if it is new or used if it has been maintained properly.
Having a marine surveyor inspect an older model is not cheap, but it would be prudent.