Boat Engine Maintenance

Have you done everything you need to do to ensure your boat is in proper shape? It’s possible you do not have an acceptable boat engine maintenance list. Having a maintenance checklist does not have to be so unwieldy that it destroys the experience of boat ownership entirely. Below is an easy guide to taking care of your engine and assist you in keeping your engine performance top notch. Before boating, make sure you have an On-Board Maintenance Kit.

On-Board Maintenance Kit

An on-board kit with basic tools (hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, vise-grips, etc.) and the equipment listed below affords a boater the capability to carry out regular maintenance and be prepared if any mechanical, electrical, or other problems occur while on the water. 

  • Socket and wrench set (both metric and standard)
  • Oils and lubricants specific to the engine
  • Oil filter wrench (if needed) 
  • Extra oil and fuel filters
  • Fuel stabilizer
  • Spark plugs and spark-plug wrench
  • Funnel, bucket, towels, oil-absorbent mats, and a receptacle for oil-disposal 
  • Battery terminal cleaner 
  • Electrical system multi-meter (analog or digital) 
  • Flexible garden hose with standard fittings 
  • Spare rubber hose and clamps, sized to existing on board hoses/clamps 
  • Duct tape, Teflon tape, leak sealer compounds, and emery cloth  
  • Propeller shear/cotter pins
  • Hand cleaner

Key Factors for Boat Engine Maintenance

Boat owners should always read the engine’s owner’s manual yearly and carefully follow its instructions for proper routine and once yearly maintenance. This will ensure the engine works as it should, and that you don’t void its warranty due to improper maintenance. Next, create a single page list and laminate/cover in plastic. Keep this list on the boat and make sure it is readily available after each trip.

Below are the main concerns for proper boat maintenance:


Is your boat clean? Does the engine look like it’s clean when you look it over? Using proper boat cleaning products is a major factor when keeping your boat clean. Be sure to keep it clean from dirt and debris on a regular basis. Keep it clean!

Oil Changes

Oil is essential for your engine. Every boat needs its oil changed regularly to operate appropriately. We recommend changing the oil every 100 hours of engine use or at least once a year. You can change the oil yourself or have it professionally serviced to keep it up to date and running great. Change the oil regularly!

Propeller Check

Inspect your propeller thoroughly Removing your propeller occasionally is good habit to make sure nothing has gotten caught around it. If something has gotten caught up in the propeller, this could cause your engine to struggle and limit its operations. Inspecting for any indications of damage and addressing these issues may prevent serious harm to your motor. Inspections are key. Always check your propeller!

Regular Flushing

After each trip throughout the season, flushing your engine is of utmost importance and it doesn’t matter if you are boating in salt or fresh water. If you have ran aground or kicked up sand or marine growth, flushing is even more vital. The fundamental rule for flushing is to by no means run an engine without providing water to the lower unit. Even a very short time of dry running can harm the water pump and/or other parts. Also, we recommend flushing out the engine after every trip, which includes starting the engine to allow the water pump to run after proper inspection of the water pump. On completion, we also recommend removing the fuel line to burn away the remaining fuel in the carburetor.

Overall Checkup

Always check your engine for and damage and/or leaks. If you do find a leak, address it quickly with a certified boating professional. Inspect your engine after every use. Long-term upkeep includes regularly inspecting the fuel line for possible cracks and inspecting the fuel primer bulb along with any pertinent fittings. You should also check for ordinary issues, such as rust, corrosion, fuel tank damage, water in the fuel, and the proper functioning of the tank vent.


Taking good care of your engine by starting a proper boat engine maintenance routine and having the proper tools on-board is paramount to your boat’s longevity. Also, taking it to a boat maintenance professional before each voyage or at least once a year for a complete checkup will assure that nothing is missed. Boaters with many years of engine experience often depend on certified, professional mechanics to perform mandatory annual maintenance. Entrusting motor maintenance to qualified mechanics with high-tech diagnostic tools and expert knowledge of the make and model of your engine develops a calming peace of mind when underway. Take proper care of your boat and it will take care of you! Happy Boating!

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing this beneficial information. I just bought a boat, and I know a lot about boat maintenance. You have listed the steps in detail and thoroughly. I will follow your boat engine maintenance routine. And you are right: “Take proper care of your boat, and it takes care of you.” I’m looking forward to your next articles.

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