Marine Engine Maintenance
As a boat owner, the need for marine engine maintenance is bound to target you and make itself your next activity, embraced or dreaded, unless the boat is a row boat or a small sailing skiff (or you can get someone else to do it for you). Marine engine maintenance is not limited to the length of the boat nor is it a function of the size of the engine. What it boils down to is that everything needs attention at some point in time and if it turns, makes noise, and stinks it requires attention more frequently than anticipated.
We boaters rely so greatly on our engines that having a boat engine suddenly quit can be a traumatic and potentially dangerous experience. The only way to prevent a breakdown on the water is good preparation and maintenance, be it an inboard motor, a sterndrive, or an outboard. The old axiom, "Out of sight, out of mind," is not an option here.
Marine Engine Repair--Best Avoided When Possible
Regular maintenance not only promotes reliability and safety, but can also prevent costly repairs. Marine engine repair is expensive, and with the newer generation of marine engines that are becoming more sophisticated the option of DIY repairs is fast becoming a thing of the past. Fortunately, regular maintenance is still an option for everyone, and doing so will help you become familiar with the engine and its workings, which could be invaluable in a time of crisis.
Marine engine maintenance is a well-supported trade due to the necessity of the beast. There are many aftermarket products available and most everything needed to maintain your gas or diesel engine and more is available right here. This includes the items you need for inboard or outboard engine maintenance,sterndrive engine maintenance, and any type of boat maintenance in general, including for personal watercraft (PWC).
Outboard engine repair is not for the faint at heart and often requires some specialized tools. And unfortunately, the newer generation of four-cycle outboards has escalated that tradition partly due to their engineering complexity. On the plus side, this engineering complexity has provided the boat owner with a very reliable, much quieter, and smoother running motor.
The caveat here is that these beauties are dependent on correct outboard engine maintenance and care. And don't even get us started on sterndrives! Sterndrive engine maintenance is easily overlooked because the engine is typically placed low in the hull and covered with a lid or box which can mean out of sight, out of mind, plus it makes getting down to the engine more difficult than that of an outboard.
In warmer climates, winterizing marine engines can be a misleading term and some boaters simply refer to it as end-of-season maintenance. Most boating is seasonal, as it is dictated either by weather, sport, or fishing regulations, so the boat use has an ebb and flow. It makes good sense to perform any marine engine service in the slow or downtime to get the vessel ready for playtime.
On the other hand, boaters who live in colder climates and experience deep freezes every winter will sadly shake their heads and call crazy those who fail to properly winterize and put their boats to bed for the winter. This is especially true of those inland boaters whose lakes and rivers freeze in the winter. Makes for great ice fishing but boating, not so much.
There are different things that need to be done to get the boat ready for winter hibernation depending on whether you have an inboard,outboard, or sterndrive. The laundry list for each is a bit extensive but it could save you thousands (and perhaps even a rebuilt or new motor), so it's worth it. And there's more to winterizing than just the engine.
DIY Marine Engine Maintenance
If you're new to such delights, the best thing would be to consult your owner's manual first, if you have one. If not, you could always check with the manufacturer and maybe even purchase a new owner's manual. It might be easier to find a simple maintenance and repair manual though, and we have quite a few here including for PWC; take a look and see if there's one for your engine.
Before any routine maintenance can take place, you need the correct parts. Sometimes this can be a challenge all by itself but never fear, we have called in the parts cavalry for you. We have an excellent parts finder tool called SONAR, that is put out by Sierra Marine, although almost every brand you can think of is represented. Give it a try!
While you could certainly call on a marine engine service to handle the routine maintenance stuff, this can get very expensive, very fast, especially if they must make "boat calls" to a marina. If at all possible, it's a good thing to learn to do at least some of these things yourself, not only for the savings but more importantly, like we mentioned earlier, for your own safety should you break down while cruising. We all hope that won't happen but on the bright side, if it does, and even if your skills can't get the engine running again, all that money you saved could easily pay for marine towing and repairs.
Whether your boat is the proud owner of an inboard, outboard, or sterndrive, we have what it needs to keep shipshape and Bristol fashion. Or maybe just ready for anything.