Buying a boat is not a low-cost exercise – to put it mildly, and one of the biggest contributors to the lofty price is the engine. To add insult to a dented bank account, marine engines don’t last very long, and it is therefore important to get the absolute maximum from your motor in terms of performance and longevity by taking good care of it.
General consensus is that a petrol engine would usually survive approximately 1 500 hours before needing extensive refurbishing. Conversely, the average diesel boat engine will run for more than three times that long under the same conditions with an average of 5 000 hours. However, the number of hours you’ll get from your boat engine largely depends on how well you care for it.
Typically, a petrol marine engine will run smoothly for about 1 000 hours before it starts to show little niggles. It is vital that these little problems that may pop up after the 1000-hour mark are not ignored but rather taken care of immediately or they could develop into major issues that might lead to the motor not seeing its last 500 hours.
Interestingly, your car engine may run almost twice as long as your petrol marine engine. The simple reason being that marine engines normally work harder than car engines and are constantly exposed to extreme elements and suffer the continual detrimental effects of water.
A well-maintained and well cared for petrol engine which isn’t always open to the elements may live to see well over the 1 500 hours without needing a major overhaul. However, those that operate under strenuous conditions, such as the engines of a fishing charter boat for instance, which endure long, hard hours, day in, day out in salt air and salt water and are perhaps a touch neglected will probably die much earlier.
Diesel engines on the other hand, are a complete different kettle of fish. They’re built to tolerate a bit more strain than petrol engines and if well maintained and not overworked, may well last you up to 8 000 hours before needing massive repairs. BoatSafe go as far as to say that a diesel engine may even last as long as your boat. Which doesn’t sound too farfetched when you consider that the average recreational user only logs about 200 hours annually which means a well cared for diesel engine that lasts 8 000 hours would last 40 years!