Tracker Boats have been around nearly as long as their parent company, Bass Pro Shops.
Under the White River Marine Group banner, they are a part of the family that is the largest manufacturer of fishing and recreational boats by sales volume in the world.
How good is the brand?
Here’s how good Tracker Boats are:
Tracker Boats are considered to be an entry-level brand of aluminum boats. They use good quality components and advertise a great warranty. Though they have their share of problems, Tracker Boats are generally considered a good value for their price.
A Brief History of Tracker Boats
Tracker Boats started in 1978 when Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, desired to offer a complete fishing boat package.
The package would consist of the boat, trailer, outboard, trolling motor, and fishfinder.
The boats would be made from aluminum, with a focus on quality. It was believed that selling in volume would allow them to make a good boat and sell it for an affordable price.
It took more than two years of design and development before the first Bass Trackers were introduced by Bass Pro. The package immediately proved to be popular and has been a staple of their sales ever since.
With origins stretching back to the 1960s, the White River Marine Group was acquired by Bass Pro, and Tracker fell under their management.
Tracker Boats are made in nine plants in the Ozark Mountains. A tracker can maintain quality control and distribution with all operations in-house, thus keeping the costs down on their boats.
How Reliable Are Tracker Boats?
Tracker aluminum boats are welded rather than riveted.
It is generally accepted that riveted seams are more likely to develop leaks but are far easier to repair than welded seams.
Tracker uses lasers for the precision fabrication of aluminum parts. Most of the welding is done robotically, again for precision and consistency.
When the hull is built, a colored powder is applied to the hull, and then it is subjected to heat for the paint to bond with the hull. A clear coat is added after this for protection from UV. Tracker calls this their Diamond Coat process.
A two-part expanding foam is injected into all cavities. This increases the flotation and deadens sound for a quieter ride, and acts as a shock absorber to increase durability.
The decks of the boats are 3/4-inch, 7-layer marine plywood. It is covered by the boat’s limited lifetime structure and deck warranty.
Tracker Boats are made with precision, maximizing materials and labor, resulting in a robust hull.
How Durable Are Tracker Boats?
Like all brands of boats, particularly less-expensive aluminum boats everywhere, opinions vary on how durable Tracker Boats are.
One thing to keep in mind is that Tracker Boats are essentially entry-level. That is, they are a cheaper brand. In an industry that has to keep costs way down to make a profit, you get what you pay for, and some problems are to be expected.
One area that many owners feel the entry-level nature shows up is in the power. It is a common perception on forums that Tracker Boats are underpowered for their size.
The welded longitudinal stringer system is considered to be a good value for the money. It makes the hull more resistant to the pounding of waves and other impacts.
The layout and storage on Trackers are almost universally recognized favorably. They are fairly comfortable, with ample space for fish and supplies.
Several owners have reported leaks. Usually, these are a result of improper welding or the welds cracking and failing.
While opinions are split online, it is not uncommon to find this kind of review:
“The Tracker Pro Guide V-175 is a great aluminum boat… They have the industry’s [sic] best warranty. The double-plated hull is braced by a longitudinal stringer system that is also welded into position along the full length of the boat’s running surface and to the boat’s extruded aluminum, corner-braced, box-beam transom…”
On Consumer Affairs’ website, Tracker has 3.8 out of five stars, which is good, but several one-star reviews are prominent. They speak of faulty manufacturing and a failure to stand behind the warranty.
One review on the site said, “A major hull problem with my new 175 TXW. Factory defective! Leaks profusely. Tracker had the boat for 7 months. No better. They won’t replace the hull…Lousy warranty…”
[Source: Consumer Affairs]
While there are several similar reviews, the overall score is still good. The bottom line on Tracker’s durability is what you would expect from an entry-level boat.
What About Older Tracker Boats?
Older Tracker boats have a similar reputation to their newer boats: you get what you pay for.
Some older models have welds that are beginning to fail. This is attributed to various factors, from the constant flux over the years to the chemical change in aluminum when it is welded to manufacturer error.
At some point in the early 2000s, their Tundra line had a recurring defect in the hulls. It was tracked down and fixed by 2005.
However, it is easy to find owners that have had the same Tracker Boat for 15-20 years. This indicates that despite their entry-level nature, those taken care of can last for a long time.
Do They Still Make Parts For Older Models?
Given that the manufacturing of Tracker boats has all been done by the same company for its entire existence, there are still many parts for older models that can be found.
Many are still in use on newer models and are easy to find.
Two dealers of Tracker Boats that have been selling parts for a long time have formed the website TrackerMarineParts.com to make it easy to get replacement parts.
Two other dealers that carry OEM parts for Tracker Boats are greatlakesskipper.com and boatoutfitters.com.
Tracker Boats have been around for a long time, and they have many longtime dealers outside of Bass Pro Shops. A tough part to locate may be found by contacting a few of these dealers, particularly in the Midwest of the USA.
What Are Typical Problems With Tracker Boats?
Some of the most common problems are failures of the welds, either in the seams or in the transom.
In these complaints, the owners always feel the problem is in the manufacturing. Many of these complaints are on recent boats, so the boats did not have much time on the water before these problems developed.
Getting warranty work done has also been a prominent complaint about the brand. Consumer Affairs has many complaints about lengthy repair times at the dealership and the problem still not being fixed, to outright warranty denial.
It should be noted that many owners have been happy with the warranty work that they have had done, but many of the issues disappointed owners have stemmed from the company’s refusal to back the warranty.
Some owners report problems with the electrical system. These range from faulty gauges and pumps to simply bad wiring.
Leaks are reported. Many of these leaks trace back to failing welds, but others result from hoses in the live well system.
Sometimes these hoses are not properly installed at the factory.
Many owners report problems with the carpets on the floors of their boats, such as bubbling or self-tapping screws being stripped and not holding.
Another problem that occasionally crops up is the hull paint bubbling. The painting process consists of five steps, and despite this, some owners still report problems.
How Long Do Tracker Boats Last Compared To Similar Brands?
Like all aluminum boats, you will find some from decades ago still on the water.
Aluminum is a tough material. The key to the longevity of an aluminum boat is in the strength of its manufacturing.
The most similar brands to Tracker are Lund and Alumacraft. In looking at owner feedback online, both good and bad, Tracker Boats seem to last about the same.
It seems fair to say that Tracker Boats last as long as other entry-level brands of boats.
Do Tracker Boats Hold Their Value?
Despite the mixed reviews online, Tracker Boats manage to hold their value.
This is not just because of the lower price point; their depreciation rate is favorable.
A Guide V16 LKR DLX T made in 2015 sold for $9,295 in that year. The current average retail on that model is $7,360, for depreciation of 21%.
A Pro Team 190 TX sold new in 2015 for $19,995. That model has a current resale average of $16,830, for depreciation of 16%.
Are Tracker Boats Still Being Made?
Tracker Boats are still being made and are a trendy brand among fishermen. They are sold not only at their parent Bass Pro Shops but at many other dealerships, as well.
Their most popular boats are in three broad categories: Jon boats, modified V-hulls, and deep-V hulls.
Their Jon boats are represented by the 7 models of their Grizzly line. These range from the 16-foot 1648 model at $5,245 to the 21.5-foot 2072 CC at $29,185.
Their modified-V boats include their bass boats and include 6 models. They run from the 16.67-foot Bass Tracker Classic XL at $16,165 to the 18.58-foot Pro Team 195 TXW at $32,745.
Their deep-V boats are built for more difficult waters and consist of six models. They range from the 16-foot Super-Guide V-16 T at $17,635 to the 19-foot Targa V-19 WV at $40,945.
They also make some variations on these models, as well as a large line of pontoon boats. They have a line of riveted Jon boats, as well.