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5 Boat Engine Checks That Will Save Your Boat’s Engine and Your Wallet

January 20, 2022

Boat Engine Maintenance


Without the engine, your watercraft is basically an oversized canoe or kayak. This is why it is crucial to keep your boat’s engine in top working order. Boat engines are complex systems of interconnected parts and components, and if one gets a little irregular in its function, it affects the whole system. Using the list below, you can identify trouble early and keep maintenance costs from escalating.

  1. Check the oil

Oil is the lifeblood of your boat’s engine. So, it is crucial to check it regularly. The oil should be amber or gold in color and free of debris. If the oil is dark and dirty, it’s time to change it. If the oil is milky, frothy, or contains debris, you should bring it to the service center as it’s a sign of underlying damage

2. Check the spark plugs

If your engine utilizes spark plugs, you will have to replace them every couple of years or sooner; depending on how much you use your boat. Over operational time, parts wear out, the gap between electrodes increases. If you haven’t replaced them in time, then the chances are that you may face misfiring problems, and your engine may not start or run smoothly.

3. Check the propeller

The propeller is an essential part of the engine, and it is designed to convert torque into thrust. The propeller can be inspected for damage, wear and tear, grease levels, and cracks. It should be checked regularly because a broken propeller can leave you adrift in your boat

4. Check the anodes

There’s a reason we call them sacrificial anodes. Replacing them is far cheaper than replacing the parts they protect. Sacrificial anodes are designed to protect the engine parts that sit in the water from corrosion.


Ensure your engine and drive have the correct anode for your use — magnesium for freshwater, zinc, or aluminum for brackish and saltwater. If you’re not sure, bring your rig to your dealer.


Replace anodes that are less than two-thirds their original size. Be sure to check your owner’s manual for the location of all anodes. Some are visible and easily accessible. Some are located internally and easily overlooked. For example, Volvo closed-cooling engines have anodes in the heat exchangers.

5. Check the exhaust pipes

The engine’s continued quality performance depends on its exhaust system, so you must check it frequently. The exhaust pipe should be inspected and repaired if necessary. You can perform some simple tests with a screwdriver to check if your condition is good or not. Place a long screwdriver on the exhaust pipe. Place your ear on the screwdriver. This method works much like a doctor’s stethoscope. If the sound coming off the screwdriver sounds like a healthy rumble, you’re are good to go. If you hear any clanking, tinging, or clattering, then it’s time to bring it into the shop for deeper investigation.


Another easy test is to hold a white cloth 3-6 inches away from the exhaust pipe while the engine is running. You are good to go if the fabric is clean or minimally dirty after 30 seconds of operation. However, if the cloth is filthy with black soot, you have a sign of a rich mixture and a need to get the engine serviced.

In Conclusion
Checking these systems at regular intervals will ensure that your sport craft or boat is operating correctly and help you identify when your engine is underperforming. Should one of these checks return a damaging result, it is best to seek professional help from a certified service center, like Austin Boats.

Author Bio:
Ck Harrington is a content writer for Volvo Penta , a leading manufacturer of marine engines and parts. When he’s not typing at his laptop, Ck can be found seeking outdoor adventures with his family and dogs. Ck’s favorite place to make waves is the Georgia coastline.

Photo by Lee Attwood on Upsplash

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