As the age-old saying goes, “the two happiest days of a boat owner’s life are the day you buy the boat, and the day you sell the boat.” Well, we think that’s just rubbish! Sure, owning and maintaining a boat–of whatever type–is challenging but boat ownership doesn’t have to be stressful.

Without a doubt, conducting regular boat servicing is the most important thing you should do if you want to look after your investment and maximise your days out on the water. Here’s our bite-size overview of how frequently you should have your boat serviced and how to recognise it’s time for a check-up.

How often should I have my boat serviced?

We recommend professionally servicing your boat once a year regardless of how much you use it. If you choose to leave it longer, that’s okay too. However, at a bare minimum make sure you have a pro inspect and overhaul your marine petrol engine every 1,500 running hours and for marine diesels every 5,000 running hours.

What’s included in professional boat and marine servicing?

Even if you’re experienced with DIY, it’s worth hiring a professional team to service your boat. At Mike’s Marine, we have 80 years of combined marine servicing experience and we only use genuine parts—so you can rest easy knowing your pride-and-joy is in safe hands!

Besides maintaining the engine, when a marine specialist services your boat they’ll also inspect:

• Battery: Ensuring the cells are topped up with deionised (or distilled) water, checking for and replacing any worn-out or loose connections, and testing its performance
• Fuel lines: Assessing the security of the joints and replacing aged or leaky lines.
• Water pump: Looking for obstructions and replacing the rubber impeller.
• Hull (inside and out): Searching for dings, loose skin fittings or bungs, testing the bilge pump and more.
• Propeller: Checking the blades for damage and untangling garbage or fishing line.
• Oil levels: Making sure the oil is free of contamination and changing it if necessary.
• Misc: Testing electronics, such as navigation lights, and checking ropes and rigging (if applicable).

How do I know if my boat needs servicing?

1. Difficulty planing has multiple causes–aside from overloading and improper weight distribution–such as a failing fuel injection system, cylinder issues and incorrect motor height.

2. Engine prop vibration increases the faster you try to go and, sometimes, you’ll notice a drop in speed despite the engine racing. The causes of this include a nicked or distorted blade, line snagged on the shaft, and a busted outboard hub bushing.

3. Outboard engine rust will not ruin a day of boating, but if you leave it too long, the component is more likely to fail or cause damage if it seizes.

4. Failing water intakes are easy to spot: if there isn’t a steady stream of water pumping out then you have a problem.

5. Overly smoky engines can be down to oil leaks, water infiltration, clogged filters, dirty fuel, and more. A bit of smoke, especially on some two-stroke outboards, isn’t always a harbinger of doom, but if it’s smokier than usual, get it checked out!

With boat servicing, prevention is definitely better than cure. It’s also cheaper too—especially when you consider the high cost of replacing a knackered and neglected marine engine. According to Queensland’s Autumn 2019 Volunteer Marine Rescue Journal, 37 out of 40 rescues over the summer were because of breakdowns. So, don’t get caught out!

If you have questions, you can reach us via our contact form or call us on (07) 3390 3418.