How Long Does a Boat Engine Last?

Author : Efrain Silva

Ooh, a good question. So first of all, if you are looking at a tow boat with a 350 / 5.7 class of engine, then, the answer is going to be likely anywhere between a good 2,000 to a good (get this) 2,500 hours. So if you spend, say, five hours a week using your boat on the water, with that engine working well and everything, and you drive the boat around and have the time of your life, then in about a year, you’ll have only used the engine for around 270 hours. That is fantastic, when you really think about it.

Can You Run an Inboard Boat Motor Out of Water?

I simply multiplied 5 (the hours you will use the engine per week, in this specific hypothetical case) by 54 (the number of weeks in a typical year) to get this number. If you spend much more time, say double the amount per week, you will still not reach 1,000 hours of use in a year, which is also a mind - blowing fact to give full thought to. That means, if the boat is just a hobby boat, and you use it sparingly, then its engine should last you for well over a year. If you do not use it much, then plan to be able to retire with it someday and use it more often, its engine giving out after a few good years of service.

I only wish car engines lasted like this, and that we used them less often, so they could last more (now there is an idea — maybe I myself will start taking the bus to work every week, heheh). Now, when you are talking about something like a marine gas engine, you are looking at about a good average of 1,500 hours, give or take a few. But in the case of a marine diesel engine, that number can go up to around 5,000 on average.

Most engine owners have proven this — isn’t it amazing that a diesel can run more than three times as long as a gas engine? That thought alone blows my mind. I must admit it.

Hour Mileage

Many boat owners log their “hour mileage”, which is something you should do and not just think about. Get a log or journal and keep it in the boat at all times, preferably right next to the main control engines. Let this serve as a good visual reminder that you need to log the current number of miles you’ve moved + hours your boat was on and running at the beginning and end of each trip.

If your motor boat is around 15 years in age, and you maintain it well, and you’ve only used it for, say, 700 hours, then you can consider yourself in great shape.

Thank you for taking the time to take care of your boat’s engine. It is invaluable and can last you a good time, if you take the best care starting now. It is not too early to start logging!