How Many Hours is a Lot for a Boat?

How Many Hours Is Alot for a Boat?

Written by Boatsetter Team
December 15, 2021

Last Updated on September 28, 2023 by Boatsetter Team

Both inboard and outboard marine motors are dependable for an average of 1500 hours. After that point, there is a risk of boating. While Sea Tow will gladly come to your rescue, a boat engine that has a fair number of hours is still likely to let you down at the worst possible moment. Keeping in mind recreational boats are used between 75 and 150 hours per year, how many hours is a lot for a boat? We have your answer here.

Post summary:

  • Where do I find how many hours are on a boat’s engine?
  • How many hours on a boat is considered high?
  • How many hours do boat engines last?
  • How to afford buying a boat

Read all the way through to catch all Pro tips.

Rent. Charter. Share—Only at Boatsetter

Where do I find how many hours are on a boat’s engine?

Inboard and outboard boats built before the 2000s generally had an hour meter in the instrument panel. Read from left to right, the hour meter indicates the number of hours and tenths of hours the engine has operated. Since then, the hours of outboard engines have been stored on the engine’s computer. So, unless the boat has a dash-mounted hour meter or the owner has kept a meticulous logbook, you will need a mechanic to tell you the number of hours on the motor.

This measurement of a boat’s usage is more like a tractor or airplane than a car, which measures its usage in miles. However, the one thing that is like a car is a boat that has been used less than average may have more problems than a boat that has seen more than average hours of usage.

A boat used more frequently will usually receive more maintenance than a lesser-used boat. So, even though a boat you consider buying may have more hours, you need to look at how well it is maintained and built.

How many hours on a boat is considered high?

If you are looking at a marine gasoline-powered boat to purchase that has reached 1500 hours, this is considered a lot. Unless it has been meticulously maintained, its dependability is very questionable.

Properly maintained diesel engines give boaters 5000 or more hours of dependable service. So, if you are looking at a diesel boat with low hours for its years, give it a good hard look. It may be a deal or a lemon that runs so badly it never leaves the dock, which can be true of all low hour boats. 

Pro tip: Here are a few boat manufacturer and brand names to look into: Yamaha , SundanceSanlorenzo… 

How many hours do boat engines last?

Well-maintained inboard engines, inboard outboard engines (unless diesel), and outboards have a serviceable average life of about 1500-2000 hours. If you’re looking at a gas-fueled marine engine close to or exceeding 1000 hours, inboard or outboard, proceed with caution. It may be a deal, or it may be a money pit.

On the other hand, if it has diesel engines with only 1000 hours, you have 6000 to 8000 hours of service before needing to rebuild.

How many hours is good for a used boat?

A used boat powered by an outboard motor or gas inboard with less than 1000 hours is a boat worth considering a purchase. A diesel-powered boat with 3000 to 5000 hours that has been maintained well is also a boat that may be worth owning. Like used cars, used boats need to be checked out carefully by yourself or a professional before you buy one.

Pro tip on buying a used boat

buying a used boat

Are their perfect boats on the used boat market? Unfortunately, no, however, some are better than others are. If you know what to look for, your chance of finding the perfect boat for yourself is pretty likely.

What size boat do you need?

A small skiff may suit your needs if you are going it alone. However, if you have family and friends that want sun and spray on their skin, too, you may need to look for a deck boat or pontoon boat. If you want to cruise the coast, a small cabin cruiser, sailboat, or houseboat may be more suitable for your use.

Pro tip: Keep in mind, no matter the boat you buy, it will need maintenance and operational costs.

One way for your boat to pay its way is with Boatsetter, where you can list your boat for rent and are paid by the hour, day, or days for its use. Then, take it out with paying guests as its captain, or let them go it alone, all while you are paid. Storage is another consideration when buying a boat, as not all of them can be kept on a trailer in your yard. 

How much does a boat cost?

A boat will cost you from purchase to operations and maintenance unless your boat of choice is a kayak or canoe. How much depends on the size of the boat, its cost to operate, insure, and pay for every month.

If your needs are modest, a small fishing boat may suit them. They are inexpensive to purchase and operate. However, suppose your teenage children have taken a fancy to wakeboarding. In that case, you are talking about real money for a boat and equipment to pursue the dream.

If you can afford that dream, then go for it. But, remember, it is not only the cost of the boat’s purchase you need to consider. Operating costs, maintenance, storage or dockage, and insurance are all added expenses to the initial investment in your boat.

What to look for when inspecting a boat (besides engine hours)

You may find a boat with excellent engine hours; however, you need to check the rest of the boat, from stem to stern and top to bottom.

Inspect the hull for cracks in the gel coat or gouges in the hull. Also, inspect the engine, the steering system, the fuel system, the electrical system, and the boat’s bilge. Inspect the decks (floors) for soft spots and any signs that water has sat inside or leaked into the boat. Make sure to take it for a spin to see if everything works properly like no funky noises coming from the motor. 

Hire a marine surveyor

If you don’t feel comfortable yet with your knowledge of boat engines, hire a Marine survey! Especially, if you buy a massive, complex, expensive boat. 

A marine surveyor is somewhat like a home inspector of boats. A marine surveyor will inspect the engines, the condition of the boat’s hull, the electrical, plumbing, and fuel systems. They will then compile a report that tells you whether the boat is in stellar condition or if you need to move on to the next one.

How to afford buying a boat?

Easy—List it with Boatsetter, and rent it out to vetted renters when you aren’t using it! The added income will help you pay to keep your boat shipshape and can make your boat into a moneymaking asset instead of a money pit. Check out the hottest boats in the market at Boat types, and make sure to scroll through Boat Guises to find your next boating destination.

About us 

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