4 Most-Common Problems With Malibu Boats (Explained)

Malibu Boats is one of the leading designers and manufacturers of high-performance sport boats used for wakeboarding, water skiing, and other adrenaline activities.

They claim to have the top market share of these niche boats in the United States since 2010. Since they started (back in 1982), the company has contributed to new ideas and product innovation within the powerboat industry.

The company designs its boats to attract an ever-expanding range of recreational boaters and water sports enthusiasts.

Here are some common problems with Malibu boats to watch out for:

A Brief History Of Malibu Boats

Back in 1982, a group of six friends, who shared a passion for waterskiing, got together to design and build a new style of watersport boat, and Malibu Boats was born.

In their first year of operation, they built and sold more than 100 boats.

By 1989, Malibu had increased production to become one of the largest boat manufacturers in California, with a manufacturing output of 1200 boats per year.

In 1992, Malibu Boats expanded and moved their headquarters to a new production facility in Loudon, Tennessee. This move was mainly to keep up with the increased demand east of the Mississippi River.

In 1994, Malibu became a truly international brand when they started to build their boats in New South Wales, Australia.

Today the company still manufactures its boats in its three locations and employs more than 700 people worldwide. They have a broad fan base, and if you read through the Malibu Boat Forums, most customers rave about their Malibu Boat, with some on their second or even third model.

However, like any brand, sometimes things slip through the cracks, and the following are the 4-most common problems with Malibu Boats that we have come across:

1. General Gel Coat Cracks

General gel coat cracks or spider cracks are a boat problem across the board and not specific to Malibu Boats.

Spider cracks can be caused by a hole cut or screwed in without chamfering the holes that have been drilled.

In addition, spider cracks can indicate that there has been some collision, or they may be a sign of a serious structural problem that will need to be addressed to prevent the cracks from spreading.

However, the main cause of these cracks is a result of a relatively inflexible gel coat that is too thick, and while it may be annoying, it is not usually structural. Stress by thermal expansion or when bulkheads and liners were installed can cause minor flexing, which can also cause fine cracks.

The good news is that Malibu Boats offer one of the best warranties in the business, and the gel coat on a new boat is under full warranty for the first year.

2. Interior Upholstery (Vinyl) Cracks And Stitching Comes Loose

Malibu Boats only uses premium, marine-grade quality vinyl with multiple density foams for their interior upholstery.

After many hours of exposure to the elements, reports of the vinyl starting to crack and the stitching coming loose.

This problem is not specific to Malibu Boats, as prolonged exposure to the sun, wind, and salty air will take their toll on any marine upholstery.

Marine-grade vinyl has been treated to prevent mold or mildew and is UV resistant. You cannot prevent exposure to the elements while using your boat, but you can implement measures to ensure that your upholstery is looked after to prolong its shelf-life.

These measures include covering the upholstery and your boat with a boat cover when it is not in use. Please don’t leave anything on your seats, and always try to wipe them over after each use. If that sounds too much of a chore, try to give your boat’s interior a good clean at least twice per month.

The other good news is that a five-year warranty covers your interior and upholstery on a new Malibu boat.

3. Ignition And Electrical Issues

While Malibu builds an upper-tier boat, it’s not always plain sailing (or boating).

Some reports about boats not starting after being winterized, which comes down to ignition and electrical problems. There’s nothing worse than planning a day on the water, launching your boat, then turning the key, and nothing happens.

Ignition and electrical problems can be traced to a loose connection, corroded wiring, faulty switches, or dead batteries.

The good news is that your Malibu dealer should be able to help you, and the different forum reports seem to back this up.

4. Weak, Loose, Or Broken Wakeboard Towers

You don’t necessarily need a wakeboard tower to wakeboard, but it is more fun if you do have one.

Having a wakeboard tower enables you to jump higher with your wakeboard so that you have more time in the air to do some awesome tricks. However, towing a wakeboarder, a water skier, or even a tube can cause undue stress on your boat.

If you have a wakeboard tower installed, the fiberglass hull should be reinforced at the mounting points. If this is not done correctly, you may find cracks around the installation which will become bigger over time. Again, this is not a problem specific to Malibu Boats.

Malibu has developed a truly revolutionary Gx Wakeboard Tower with design and engineering company Protomet Incorporation of Oak Ridge, TN.

If your wakeboard tower has been factory-installed, this should reduce the chances of any damage to your boat.

General Pros And Cons Of Malibu Boats:

Buying any boat is a compromise – you will have your wish list, but it will be difficult to find a boat that ticks all your boxes.

However, Malibu Boats is a company that strives to produce the best towboat on the market, and their fans seem to back this up.

The Pros:

Every Malibu Boat is built to the high quality and safety standards set by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).

The NMMA also verifies that each boat model stands up to the National Coastguard (USCG) safety regulations and the more stringent standards set by the American Boats and Yachts Council (ABYC).

Many Malibu fans say that their boat is the best looking, inside and out, and the wave created by the ‘Surf Gate’ technology is superior to any other boat out there. Together with the other components of Malibu’s Integrated Surf Platform (ISP), the Surf Gate creates the most dynamic playground for wakeboarding possible.

Malibu is one of the few companies to offer hundreds of customization options, including different paint options for the hull, which no other competitor comes close to offering.

The Cons:

  • Gel coat cracks;
  • Interior upholstery (vinyl) cracks and stitching comes loose;
  • Ignition and electrical issues;
  • Weak, loose, or broken wakeboard towers.

What Do The Reviews Say?

While we have checked out the different Malibu Boating forums, let’s see what the experts have to say:

“If you are in the market for a new ride to carry you through your next adventure, Malibu Boats is an American manufacturer that should be at the top of your list. If you want speed, safety, and style, you can hardly go wrong with a Malibu.”

[Source: themarinelife.com]

“Malibu has consistently been at the forefront of wake boat technology and performance, and it maintains its place amongst the best in the business for 2021. Not only does Malibu have one of the most diverse lineups to offer riders and families of all sizes and skill levels, but it has some of the best technology at its disposal like the Power Wedge 3 and Surf Gate.”

[Source: wakeboardingmag.com]

What’s The Resale Value Of Malibu Boats?

Currently, on Boattrader.com, there is a wide range of new and used Malibu Boats for sale at a wide range of prices.

These prices range from $10,800 for an older, used Malibu, all the way up to $259,735 for the newer, more luxurious powerboats.

As to how well a Malibu Boat keeps its value, let’s take a look at a price comparison:

Model Year Price
Malibu 20 VTX 2022 $168,503
Malibu 20 VTX 2015 $75,000

While at first glance, the older boat has lost 50% of the value compared with the new model, you will also need to compare their different inventories, plus the cost price of the same model back in 2015.

Does the boat come with a trailer, and has it got the latest instrument package?

In addition, how well a boat holds its value will come down to how well it has been looked after. This is true for any brand, but always make sure you conduct a thorough inspection, whether you are taking ownership of a new boat or looking to buy second-hand.


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