Lowe Boats manufactures aluminum Jon and fishing boats located in Lebanon, Missouri, now entering its sixth decade.
In the ultra-competitive aluminum boat niche, they are well-established.
But are they good and reliable?
Here’s How Good Lowe Boats Are:
Lowe Boats is considered to be an entry-level brand of aluminum boat manufacturer. There are some problems, but the company has a strong reputation for honoring its warranties. Considered not as good as Lund or any of the top-tier aluminum brands, they are considered a good value for the money.
A Brief History Of Lowe Boats
Carl Lowe married J. B. Appleby’s daughter Diane in 1959.
When Appleby started Appleby Boats the following year in Lebanon, Missouri, Carl went to work for him as a general manager.
In 1964, the company was bought by Standard Industries, but Carl and Diane continued to operate it, and in 1967 it was the world’s largest manufacturer of aluminum boats.
In 1971, Carl and Diane left to form their own company, called Lowe Line. They initially manufactured aluminum Jon boats and canoes, but they added bass boats and pontoon boats over the next decade.
In 1981, they changed the name to Lowe Boats.
The Outboard Motor Corporation bought the company in 1988, which began a series of transactions involving the company. Genmar Holdings bought it in 2001, and finally, the Brunswick Corporation bought the company in 2004, and they still own it today.
Throughout all of these sales, Lowe continued to expand its offerings, and today they make over 100 models of boats.
How Reliable Are Lowe Boats?
Most owners feel that boats built by Lowe are good for the price point as an entry-level aluminum boat.
The simplest designs, like the Jon boats, are considered to be their best offerings. This is because there are fewer things that can go wrong on simpler boats.
Most of the issues mentioned by owners involve lesser things, like inferior hardware being used (such as hatches and screws), cheap seats, carpet issues such as rot and glue failing, and bad plastic on consoles.
Other reliability issues that are more serious concern faulty wiring and poor fit and finish.
Looking through online forums to gauge the reliability of Lowe Boats, it is clear that there are many detractors of the brand, but most of these detractors actually do not blame Lowe for any of the issues they cite, as Lowe is up-front about their being an entry-level brand and being built to a price point.
But most agree that the warranty on Lowe Boats is pretty good and that the company and their dealers do their best to honor the warranty.
Many, if not most, owners of Lowe Boats are happy with their purchase, though. They went into it understanding that it was an entry-level brand and felt that they received good value for their money, even when having to replace some hinges or screws.
How Durable Are Lowe Boats?
Being made from good-quality aluminum, boats made by Lowe are very durable.
The company uses Aluminum Alloy 5052, which is alloyed primarily from Magnesium and Chromium. It has good strength and corrosion resistance.
Most of Lowe’s boats are welded, though some models like their lower-level Jon boats are riveted. The argument about which is best has gone on for decades, though most seem to feel welding is superior.
All things considered, especially their price point, Lowe Boats are considered to be durable. There are no more issues with leaks in this brand than there are in others, including better-quality brands like Lund.
Typical comments from owners about the quality of Lowe Boats highlight that they are not a top brand but good for the money. One owner said in 2016:
“I bought a new 2008 Lowe fm175 DC with 90 Optimax and welded Karavan trailer. Since the initial loose livewell fitting issue, the boat has been trouble-free and held up well. Fit and finish were decent, but I didn’t buy it to spend weekends polishing out water spots or impressing neighbors.”
[Source: Walleye Central]
This typical quote seems to sum up most owners’ feelings.
What About Older Lowe Boats?
On forums, there is a perception that Lowe Boats were initially of higher quality, back when they first started.
When they first entered the market, they were competitive but not so much building to a price at that point.
After the company changed hands several times, being owned by corporations with strict adherence to a bottom line, things began to change. Some things were sacrificed to meet the low price in the increasingly competitive market.
So at one time, Lowe Boats was actually considered to be a mid-tier manufacturer, while now they are honest about being entry-level.
Do They Still Make Parts For Older Models?
While the manufacturing of Lowe Boats has remained in the original location all these years, the models constantly changed.
Some basic parts for older Lowe boats are still being made, but most are not made anymore as older models were phased out. Most parts are kept in production for 5 years.
That being said, there are good options for finding out-of-production replacement parts.
Owners are encouraged to contact their dealers, as the network is extensive, and many dealers have repair facilities with older parts.
But one unique and helpful thing Lowe Boats does for their owners seeking replacement parts is to host a list of trusted vendors on their website. While it is no guarantee of finding exactly what you are looking for, it is a great resource for those refurbishing older boats.
There are also many owners on online forums willing to help. Given how many Lowe boats have been made over the years, there are decent odds that a particular obscure part is floating around out there, and forums are a good resource for finding it.
What Are Typical Problems With Lowe Boats?
One of the recurring problems that Lowe owners mention is the quality of the ride.
Specifically, it is a rough ride and does not handle chop well. But while most owners acknowledge this, they also accept it as they knew they were getting an entry-level boat and did not expect the same ride quality that a more expensive boat provides.
Seat quality is a recurring complaint. Many of them tear easily, and the swiveling seats can bind up.
Wiring quality is often an issue. Usually, these are problems with gauges or lights. But most owners feel that the company handles these issues to their satisfaction.
Occasionally there are failed welds or rivets on the hulls. The leaks track these down. However, these do not seem to be more common on Lowe boats than any other brand, and most owners feel that they are addressed when they happen.
Many owners have problems with the hardware on their Lowe boats. Many of the screws and parts like hinges are not stainless steel but chrome-plated and susceptible to corrosion.
Similarly, the screws on some parts like light posts do not hold, and many owners replace them with bolts and nuts.
How Long Do Lowe Boats Last Compared To Similar Brands?
Compared to similar brands like Tracker and G3, Lowe Boats hold up decently.
The longer you have it, the more problems will arise, but that is, of course, true for virtually any brand.
But among the lower-tier aluminum boat brands, a Lowe boat lasts as you might expect. One slight advantage in their favor here is the warranty, as most owners online profess to be very happy with how the company stands behind their product.
Do Lowe Boats Hold Their Value?
Lowe Boats seems to have an average depreciation for less-expensive aluminum boats.
An Rx1756 Jon boat from their Roughneck line cost $12,823 new in 2015. Today that model has an average resale value of $9,800, for depreciation of 24%.
In 2015, their 20 Bay sold new for $27,606. Currently, that model has an average resale value of $21,410. That is a depreciation of 23%.
Their Extreme Series 250 pontoon boat cost $30,725 new in 2015. That model currently has an average resale price of $26,200 for depreciation of 15% over five years.
Are Lowe Boats Still Being Made?
Lowe Boats is still located in Lebanon, Missouri, which has acquired the title of Aluminum Boat Capital of the world, given the 4 manufacturers that are based there.
The company currently makes over 100 models of boats.
They break all of their models into 12 primary lines, though there is some overlap in these series. For instance, there are 4 different lines of pontoon boats.
After five full decades, Lowe is still a strong brand.
While they are not known for the quality of their construction or their fit and finish, they have a strong reputation among owners and the boating public for value.