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.
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.
- 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
need to decide which type of engine
is right for your boat.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.