If you’ve just purchased your first boat, it may surprise you to realize that your pocketbook can’t close just yet. You still need to buy a boat lift for secure docking! Here are seven tricks to picking the right lift for your watercraft.

1: Know Your Specs

Don’t even bother looking at lifts until you’ve determined their necessary size and shape requirements. You don’t want to get attached to a particular brand or model only to discover that they don’t make lifts for your kind of boat.

2: Debate Manual Power

Manual lifts require maintenance and care, but they’re also operated with spinner wheels, which mean a less back-breaking lift for you. Electric winches, on the other hand, require more muscle, but they may be worth the trouble for busy boaters without a lot of time for upkeep.

3: Fear Friction

Friction is the #1 cause of death when it comes to boat lifts. Every time the boat sways in the water or bumps against the dock, friction causes distress to the lift through its pulleys. Look for something with ball-bearing pulleys to help lighten the load and preserve your lift that much longer.

4: Check The Fine Print

How long is the warranty on your new boat lift? Are there separate guarantees for motor life versus the lift itself? What’s their return policy? If you need replacement parts, will you have to order them through the manufacturer directly?

5: Weigh Your Material Options

When debating the merits of stainless versus galvanized steel, think about the type of water usually underneath your boat. Freshwater won’t hurt anything but ropes and pulleys, but salt water can cause significant damage to your framework unless you spring for a strong enough steel to withstand it.

6: Think About Assembly

If you’re installing your boat lift by hand, make sure you understand all the kinks and demands of your particular model. If you’re leaving the assembly to a professional, try to find one recommended by the lift manufacturers directly.

7: Keep it Clean

Like everything else in life, lifts function better when they’re clean. Don’t let dirt and debris accumulate on its undersides, and keep an eye out for salt and slime wearing down its surface.

These are just seven tips for selecting a boat lift worthy of the price. They’re a big investment, but if you choose wisely and treat them right, they’ll continue to serve you for years to come.