24 Most-Common Problems With Chaparral Boats

Chaparral boats have a reputation for being solidly built. They are among the leaders of quality fiberglass boats. It is an award-winning company, and overall, the boats have a good reputation.

While the boats have a good reputation, boat owners have reported a few problems with them.

Ranging from minor cosmetic defects to serious performance issues that in some cases left the users stranded on the water.

The boats made range from 18′ sport boats to 33′ cruisers. These are all produced in a million square foot facility in Georgia. The boats are made by hand and also using state of the art technologies. There is a wide range of boats for customers to choose from.

The deck boats are available in three sizes. The Vortex jet boats are also in three sizes. The Signature cruisers are in three sizes, from the pocket 27′ to the elegant 33′. The Chaparral luxury bowrider combines sportiness, comfort, and performance.

Motors Under-Powered

If you buy the smallest engine in an effort to save money, you might find that the engine is underpowered. A good solution is to make sure that the engine has enough horsepower– even more horsepower than you think you might need. This will be helpful if you have a lot of people on your boat.

The boat needs enough power to run at comfortable cruising speed without too much stress on the engine.

Horn Not Working

One boat owner reported that the horn tends to break and not work. It could be a potential safety concern when they are out on the water.

We always recommend bringing a handheld horn for backup!

You can see the handheld air horn we recommend as number #1 on our list of must-haves for all boat owners. It’s a good list to go over before you leave.

Shifting Issues

Some boat owners say they have problems with shifting. Fixing it may require disconnecting wires. The cables might be eroded or need lubrication. Many say it is an easy fix that they can do themselves.

A few say that they have difficulty when shifted from forward to neutral, and from neutral to reverse.

They say that it takes a lot of effort to shift the boat into gear, but when it’s out of the water, it shifts fine. This is a common problem with any boat that has a Yamaha sterndrive. The shifting throttle is also to have been reported to break.

Problem With Locks and Doors

Another problem that some owners have is the lock for the cabin door. When they put the key in the lock, it ‘doesn’t turn. The lock will need to be taken apart and taken out and then put back.

Other people say that the compartment doors were not level. The doors and the hatch tend to bind, and this is problematic for a few boat owners. Also, the vent cover came up and cost money to repair.


The caulking in some boats was missing, or it was applied sloppily

Not Good for Water Sports

Although the boats are advertised to be good for water skiing or skimming, they actually ‘aren’t that good for the sports.

This is due to them not being well suited for salt water conditions. The boat also ‘doesn’t throw a great wake for skiing.

Not Family-friendly

These boats ‘aren’t necessarily beginners boats, and some say that it isn’t a family-friendly boat.

Leaking Gas Tanks

Another issue that’s been reported with Chaparral boats is that the gas tank could potentially leak. Boat owners notice a strong gas smell after they fill it with gas. The leak can be caused by hairline cracks in the gas tank. The gas cap also might not fit properly.

There was a recall due to this issue. The fuel fitting was the reason it cracked. It allowed fuel in the bilge area.

This affected model years 2006-2007, and the models:

  • 256SSX,
  • 204SSI,
  • 190SSI,
  • 280SSI,
  • 285SSI,
  • 350 Signature,
  • 252 Sunesta,
  • 255SSI,
  • 274 Sunesta,
  • 260SSI,
  • 265SSI,
  • 235SSI,
  • 254 Sunesta,
  • 310 SignatureE,
  • 256SSI,
  • 216 Sunesta,
  • 214 Sunesta,
  • 276 Signature,
  • 270 Signature,
  • 246SSI,
  • 220SSI,
  • 256SSX
  • 234 Sunesta,
  • 236SSX,
  • 290 Signature,
  • 275SSI,
  • 276SSI,
  • 276SSX,
  • 236SSI,
  • 215SSI,
  • 210SSI,
  • 232 Sunesta,
  • 236 Sunesta,
  • 330 Signature,
  • 280 Signature,
  • 240 Signature

Some people also say that the gas tank has loose wood over it.

Another problem with the gas tank is that some of the boats have steel gas tanks.

These have the tendency to go bad.

Issues With Radio and Speakers

There have been multiple issues with radio and speakers. Many users report that the stereo and radio stop working. Some say that the radio and speaker are not hooked up correctly when they bought the boat new.

There are also some people who say that the buttons on the stereo do not work correctly.

There are also problems with the subwoofer not working, and the aux not functioning properly. Some report that the speakers and radio are not hooked up correctly.

Loose Screws

Even with brand new boats, some people say that there have been loose screws or extra screws in the boat. Another issue is that the carpet screws come out of the floor.

Not Backing Warranty

Many Chaparral boat owners have issues with Chaparral honoring their warranty.

Although many have five-year warranties on their boats, they have not been able to get the company to honor the warranties. Many say that despite repeated phone calls and emails, they ‘couldn’t reach Chaparral to have their boat fixed.

This problem is reported by many people in different states, and it seems to be a common theme with many people who own the boats.


If the boat is older, then there may be throttle issues. ‘It’s recommended that you get the throttle replaced.

Issues with Seats

Certain boat owners have seen problems with the seats with brand new boats. For some, the seats were missing cushions. Other people have said that there were holes in the seats.

For these minor issues, the company was fast to fix the issue.

Issues with the Outside

There have been reports that the decals peel off the boat prematurely. Other cosmetic issues include the gel coat having a low luster.

Saltwater Performance

Some boat owners do not recommend that these boats be used in saltwater, and are reserved for freshwater.

The boats are not good offshore boats but are a great lake boat. They lack the heaviness that boats need to perform well in the ocean.

Wiring Issues

The boats have some wiring issues throughout the vessel. This includes some wires being left hanging without support. There are other electrical issues such as the electrical crimps being poorly made and not properly sealed.

Others say that the wires become corroded.

The retention pin cable for one boat owner was rusting.

There was a recall on some models from 1999 due to wiring issues. The hotwire of the CO monitoring system was fused at the helm instead of the power source. The result was 13 to 21 feet of 16 AWG wire being unprotected from the battery switch to the fuse.

Lack of Proper Sealant

Some boats aren’t sealed properly throughout the whole vessel. This can be seen in the swim deck.

One user said that the engine filled with water when they were using the boat. It rendered the boat unusable. The bilge hoses were repaired, but ‘it’s recommended that the boat is tested before you take it out on the water

Another report said the bilge area had brown water in it.

Cooling System

If the boat ‘isn’t properly de-winterized, there could be issues with the hoses and they couldn’t be tightened down.

Issues with RPM

Some boat owners have experienced on the water where they can’t get the RPMs up past 1500.

In one case, it was due to a bad temperature sensor. The computer ‘wasn’t relaying accurately and would cut the fuel so the engine would not overheat.

Other potential causes could be from a blocked drain that ‘wasn’t tightened correctly during winterization.

Shaking and Vibration

Some boat owners say that past a certain speed, the boat will shake or vibrate. One boat owner said the boat shook after accelerating past 7 mph.

Outdated Software

The ‘boat’s software might not be totally up to date. In one case, this causes problems with it while it was out on the water and they got stranded on the lake.

Structural Wood and Carpeted Decks

Older boat models have designs such as structural wood and carpeted decks that could rot if they are not well taken care of.

Hard to Find Parts

Some of the older boats have parts that can be hard to find. This is a problem for people interested in DIY projects as well as those who need to get it repaired in the shop.

This list is a comprehensive list of common and personal problems that boat owners have had with Chaparral boats.

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