Regular Boat Engine Maintenance

Are you doing your due diligence in giving your outboard boat engines the proper regular maintenance it needs?  To prevent unnecessary problems/costs with your boat or premature part failures, it is important to have your boat undergo regular checks and maintenance.  With a little regular preventative care, your boat and all its parts will continue to function at their fullest, saving you time and money.  Spend more time out at sea and less time and money at the shipyard.  Here are some tips to keep your boat engine running smoothly:

Regular Engine Care

After every trip, it is important and rinse out the engine with clean water.  This applies to both at sea (salt water) and at lakes (fresh water).

The general purpose is to wash out any debris that may have gotten lodged in the engine and to keep the engine clean of anything that may incrementally build up over time and cause problems later.

To do this, simply use a garden hose to put clean water through the engine.  Attach the hose where the engine picks up the water.

Let the engine run, pulling the clean water through it.  With a clean engine, you should expect the water pump to produce a good flow of water that is not hot—warm water is ok.  If the water is hot, or the flow of water is not strong, there may be some debris lodged inside.  Attempt to remove any debris by inserting a wire, moving it back and forth, and “fishing” out anything that may be stuck.

Once the motor is clean, the water is giving a strong flow and the water is not hot, disconnect the fuel line and allow the engine to use up any remaining fuel in the carburetor.  When you are sure everything is clean and the engine has used up all leftover fuel, be sure to turn everything off including the battery switch, if applicable.

Remove the engine cowling, and inspect it for any leaks (water or fuel).  If you find any leaks, you may want to have a professional mechanic take a closer look.

To finish things up, wipe everything down with a clean cloth and spray an anti-rust and lubricant (such as WD-40) on all the moving parts.  While travelling or storing, keep the engine covered with a waterproof/weatherproof covering.

Engine Journal

Many operators do not keep engine journals, but even keeping a very simple journal with a pen and paper pad can prevent problems later on.  It may be cumbersome to start one, but once it becomes a habit, it is a trivial task that is easy and quick to complete, yet can give you the insight and data to catch potential disasters before they happen.

How detailed you make it is really up to you.  Some of the things you may want to log regularly are: date (obviously), maintenance work done on the engine, travel times, when you refuel and what type of fuel is used, rpms, when any additives are added, any unusual occurrences, or even times when you get a hunch something may be wrong.  The main idea is to have solid data available to make good judgement calls, make diagnoses, and to do so confidently without feeling like you’re guessing.  Having this log may also save you some time and money when you are able to hand it over to a mechanic to speed up diagnostics.


Does your boat get the proper and regular maintenance service that it needs to keep functioning at full capacity, and for years to come?

If your boat is experiencing any problems or you’d like professional recommendations on a custom annual/semi-annual maintenance plan, get in touch with Martel Marine in Vancouver.

We handle regular general maintenance, engine repairs/maintenance, boat winterizing, spring de-winterizing, and more.

If your boat is not in able condition to be floated to our service centre, and you require ground transportation for your boat, get a hold of our recommended boat-towing partner.

For reliable boat-towing to our facilities in Vancouver, please contact City Tow Truck at 604-670-7100.  (For smaller vessels only)

For clients flying into Vancouver requiring transportation to our facilities, we recommend the YVR limo services by KJLimo.

Happy boating!

Posted in Maintenance