When you’re out on the water, enjoying a sunny day with family and friends, the last thing you want to worry about is your boat breaking down. Not only does it ruin the fun, but it could leave you with an expensive problem.
And while not every boating breakdown can be prevented on the front end, many can be avoided through proper preparation and awareness.
4 Suggestions to Prevent Breakdowns
Whether you’ve owned a boat for two weeks or 20 years, there are certain proactive steps you can take to avoid costly, frustrating breakdowns when you’re enjoying a refreshing day on the water. Here are some top suggestions:
Take Care of Your Engine
Your engine is your baby. If the only time you inspect your engine is when you’re fixing an issue, you’re playing with fire. You need to get in the habit of caring for your engine early and often. Furthermore, you need to perform maintenance in the proper way.
Sloppy maintenance can actually be worse than performing no maintenance. Don’t cut corners – take the time to perform work the right way. The sterndrive bellows is one of the leading causes of boat sinking and engine failure, so be sure to inspect this black piece of corrugated rubber (typically clamped to the boat’s transom).
According to Wholesale Marine, “Another of the vulnerable boat engine parts is the manifold. Over time, saltwater and debris, if allowed to settle, can ruin this vital engine part on inboard and sterndrive engines. Again, following correct routine maintenance procedures will extend the service life of any engine manifold.”
Read up on your boat’s exact engine model to see which parts are most likely to go bad and what specific steps can be taken to prevent breakdowns. Every engine is different and you’ll benefit from tailored recommendations.
Store Boat With Fuel Stabilizer
Have you ever felt like your boat is running out of strength? If you have plenty of fuel in the system, it’s likely that you have a filter problem (or maybe even fouled plugs). Replacing the in-line fuel filter is typically the best solution.
It’s also possible that you purchased a bad load of fuel, or that the fuel went bad when stored in your boat for an extended period of time. Leaving a tank empty for a long period at a time can lead to condensation and water in the gas. If you plan on storing your boat for more than 10 or 12 weeks, your best bet is to use a fuel stabilizer.
Check the Raw Water Intake
Does your engine seem to overheat regularly – even when used for short periods of time? In many cases, this is an issue with the raw water intake. Before leaving the dock or marina, make it a point to always visually inspect the raw water intake. It could be clogged with something like mud, weeds, string, or even a plastic bag. Cleaning it out will reduce your chances of overheating.
Check for Possible Battery Issues
It’s important that you select the right battery for your needs. For example, if you have a leisure battery – which is great for boat owners who use their boats sporadically – but are a frequent boater, you may face issues with starting up.
If you don’t feel like replacing your battery at the moment, check the battery cells before leaving the dock. If you notice any of the cells are low on water, you can top these levels off with de-ionized water. If one cell was previously below 50 percent, this will boost the overall bank capacity and give you a better chance of starting up.
Adding it All Up
Again, there’s no formula you can follow to guarantee that you have no issues. There are, however, smart steps you can take to significantly reduce your chances of experiencing a frustrating and time-consuming mechanical issue while out on the water.
At the very least, following these suggestions will provide invaluable peace of mind.