- Proper routine maintenance helps avoid engine replacement
- A remanufactured engine can help save costs
- Outboard engines can be quite expensive to work on, depending on many factors
Boats can be expensive to keep up with maintenance, especially motors. But how much is it to fix a boat motor?
A midsize outboard motor from the 1980’s to the early 2000’s, with a horsepower ranging from 90 to 115, could range up to $3,500 to fix from a discount dealer. Newer motors at a full-service dealer could cost $4,500 and higher, but choosing to rebuild your motor instead could range up to $2,500.
A lot of factors, such as motor age, hours of use, and the main issue of the motor might determine how much the repair costs are going to be. As you will see, these will vary from one situation to the next.
The True Cost to Restore an Outboard Motor
At some point, you may have to swap out your exhausted outboard engine, be it a powerful V6 or smaller one. If a brand new motor is not within your budget, you should consider fixing up your old engine or investing in a refurbished outboard as a practical substitute.
The expense to repair an outboard motor can fluctuate significantly, based on variables such as the level of harm that has been done, the motor's age, and the pricing of replacement components (and how difficult it is to retrieve them). However, it usually falls within a range of a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
Opting for a modern engine with similar specifications as your current one would cost you an additional $1,500 for a four-stroke or direct fuel injection two-stroke variant. This means that models within the 90 to 115 horsepower range could exceed a price point of $6,000.
If you prioritize decreasing emissions and pollution, improving fuel efficiency, and experiencing better performance, then a newer engine, specifically a direct fuel injection two-stroke or four-stroke engine made post-2000, could suit your needs. This is a reasonable alternative, especially if you are considering a new motor.
Outboard Motor Rebuild or Buy New?
While looking at some features previously mentioned, having an outboard motor rebuild project might be the most cost effective scenario, but arguably the most time consuming. Typically, the range for a new boat engine cost is from around $900 to over $25,000.
Outboard engine prices will also vary in cost due to horsepower, the vendor you buy it from, and the manufacturer. These costs combined can be startling, but you should educate yourself on what works best within your budget.
Can Age of Outboard Motor Affect Rebuild?
Outboard engines crafted post-2000 commonly fall under the categories of four strokes or direct-injected two strokes. Although pricier than their predecessors, these engines offer unparalleled performance and convenience, making them worth the investment. Despite having a higher rebuilding cost, their superior running quality and ease of use set them apart from traditional carburetor two-stroke engines.
When contemplating outboard engines, modern four-stroke and DFI two-stroke models have advantages over their older carbureted counterparts, including: significant fuel efficiency improvements by as much as 50 percent, reduced emissions by up to 50 percent, and enhanced performance features such as easier starting, smoother running, and lower noise levels similar to modern automobiles. In other words, you might want to upgrade your engine if these features are desired.
Rebuilding Outboard Motor Yourself or Hire Someone to do it?
The ideal solution for rebuilding or hiring out the work varies based on several components to save money. Of course, being handy with how a carbureted engine or an electronic fuel injection engine work can be a big time saver versus having to wait for it to be completed.
One of the many factors is how much money you currently have available, which may prevent you from purchasing a refurbished outboard motor outright. If this is the case, then restoring your current one may be your only course of action.
Location of Local Dealer
Take into account the service choices that you find available. It is probable that a local dealer who offers a rebuilt engine or ones with low hours will provide a quicker turnaround. However, if the local full service dealer is not quite local to you, you might spend more money and time having to bring it there for maintenance.
Saltwater Outboard Motors
If any boating experience has taken place in a saltwater setting, it is advisable to steer clear of any motor that has been in operation for more than ten years. The reason being, the destructive effects of saltwater corrosion are likely to have taken their toll or getting close to it, making it practically impossible to restore the boat engine performance after a decade of continuous exposure to the brine.
Warranties and Other Options
To ensure you get accurate cost projections and protection for your investment, inquire about the availability of a warranty for a new engine. If your outboard engine dates back to the early 80’s or earlier, it may not be feasible to consider rebuilding as parts for these older models may be scarce and the technology outdated. However, if your engine is from the 80’s and has some or all of the desired features, and purchasing a new engine is not an option, then rebuilding could be a viable solution to extend the life of your aging outboard.
How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Boat Motor with Minor Issues?
If you can pinpoint exactly what is wrong with your boat engine, you can have a better understanding of what the costs are going to be. The cost of a basic service, including parts and labor, at a reputable shop may range from $330 to $380, with labor accounting for the majority of the cost at $120 to $270 for two to three hours as ballpark figures.
Reasons Outboard Motors Get in Bad Shape
Outboard motors are prone to a variety of issues that can affect their performance and longevity. A boat’s engine might have issues due to the following:
- Inadequate maintenance
- Exposure to saltwater that can result in corrosion and shorten an outboard’s life
- Overheating that can harm internal components
- Collisions with underwater objects
- High-speed operation for prolonged periods
- Use of improper fuel or oil
- Aging and wear over time
Ways to Keep Your Boat Engine in Good Shape
In order to prolong the life of your outboard engine or even a new engine, it is crucial to have proper preventative maintenance. Furthermore, you can even slightly extend an old outboard’s life by making some changes on how you treat it.
Oil changes are a huge component to extending the life of an outboard engine, whether it is gas or a diesel engine. Most mechanics suggest to do an oil change every 100 hours or just before you put it in storage. With diesel engines, these can vary up from 50 to 200 hours different from gas engines.
Changing out spark plugs, having a working water pump, and the primer starting when it is supposed to make a huge impact on the longevity of boat engines. In general, these routine follow-ups can help avoid a total engine replacement.
About THE AUTHOR
I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.Read More About Brian Samson