Oiled and Running: What to Look for When Buying a Boat Engine?

Buying a boat is on many people’s bucket list of things to do in life. It can be a status symbol for some or just an extension of freedom for others.

If you are ready to check off that box on your list, or you already have the boat, it’s important to not jump in head first. Sure, the body is sleek and gorgeous, a source of envy for all of those who see it. But what about the boat engine?

Your enviable glide across the water as you captain the boat of your dreams will become the stuff of nightmares if you are not careful in how you choose your purchase. Whether it is new or just new-to-you, the engine is the most important part of the entire boat.

Why is Your Engine so Important to Your Boat?

It’s more than just a power source. Your engine and propeller have to match the size and pitch of your boat. The weight of the engine and the horsepower will impact the performance of your boat, and matching the size and pitch helps your boat perform optimally long-term.

So what should you be looking for when buying a boat engine? Here are some things to consider when you go to buy your boat’s engine.

  1. Determine the type of engine you need.

Boat engines are not one-size-fits-all. You have outboard motors, gas sterndrive engines, pod drive engines, and diesel inboard engines, for example. You need to decide which type of engine is right for your boat.

Outboard Engines

Outboard engines are mounted on the boat’s transom at the back of the boat. In these types of engines, the gearcase and propeller are submerged when the boat is in use but then tilted out of the water for transportation and storage of the vessel.

Outboard motors range in horsepower from 2.5 to over 500 HP per engine, but it’s not just about the horsepower. There are different types of outboard engines that you can choose from depending on your needs for the boat.

Direct fuel injection outboards are named because the boat’s fuel is injected straight into the combustion chamber, where it is ignited by a spark plug. This spray increases engine power and lowers fuel consumption and emissions. Perks to this type of engine are that you don’t need any fuel priming, you get precision speed and performance, and the engine starts quickly.

Electronic fuel injection outboards have many of the same perks, such as quick start engines, low emissions and low fuel consumption, and the elimination of fuel priming. However, in these engines the fuel is injected into the air before the intake valve, where it contacts the heated intake valve and vaporizes the fuel.he fuel/air mixture is then ignited by a spark plug.

Carbureted fuel induction outboards have a carburetor as their foundational system, making them a very basic but cost effective engine. With these types of outboards, you control how much fuel is delivered to the engine. These can be 4-stroke or 2-stroke.

Inboard Engines

Unlike outboard engines, inboards store the engine and transmission directly on the boat under the deck. The engine is driven by a drive shaft that extends through the hull with a mounted propeller, and a rudder steers the vessel.

Gas Sterndrive Engines

For those looking to combine outboard style with inboard engine power, there is the gas sterndrive engine. In these engines, the gearcase is at the back of the boat but a network of gears move the drive shaft under the water so the propeller aligns with the boat’s direction.

Pod Drive Engines

Only on the market since 2004, these types of engines are usually diesel inboard, but they have a downward oriented shaft that connects to the gearcase, which is stored in front of the transom.Thrust is directed when the pod drive pivots, allowing more thrust per horsepower. These types of engines were modified to shear off on impact if your boat ends up grounding to avoid damage to the hull.

Diesel Inboard Engines

These types of engines use compression to ignite the fuel to give the engine power. Although used globally, most diesel engines are only found in large boats over 35 feet. This is because the cost is initially higher, but the improved fuel efficiency balances out the larger the vessel is.

2.Choose the right size for your boat.

Many people choose a boat based solely on the idea of how fast it will go, but you need to consider what you will be using it for.

If you are going to be carrying the maximum load of passengers plus supplies, remember that a smaller engine is going to have to work harder to carry that weight. The more horsepower, the stronger the engine.

More horsepower also allows for better handling at higher speeds, and better capability in rough waters.

3.New or used – the choice is yours.

You may find some outboard motors that you can purchase inexpensively, but you need to know a lot about them before you buy them.

For instance, how old is the motor? How long has it been since it was used? Does it run? Can it start up easily from cold conditions? Is there a serial number that proves it was not stolen?

With all of these potential problems in buying a used motor, most people find it worth the extra money to buy a new engine that has a factory warranty and security.

You can shop online, where many boat companies invite you to “Shop our new engines,” and get ease of purchase with the peace of mind of knowing that your boat engine will be an investment that lasts.

Check Off Buying That Boat on Your Bucket List

Now that you know what to look for in an engine when you are buying your new boat or adding life to an old one, you can enjoy the perks of being a boat owner and check that item off of your bucket list! Go be the captain of your ship as its ultimate horsepower speeds you across the water, or just relax as you spend the day fishing, and enjoy the freedom that being a boat owner brings to you.