How Many Hours is a Lot for a Boat?

How Many Hours is a Lot for a Boat?

Written by Boatsetter Team
December 15, 2021

Both inboard and outboard marine motors are dependable for an average of 1500 hours. After that point, they become undependable, and you don’t want to be five miles out when they decide to break down.

Of course, Sea Tow will be glad to come to get you. Still, the point is, a boat with an engine that has reached its fair number of hours without a major overhaul is likely to let you down at the worst possible moment.

Recreational boats are used between 75 and 150 hours per year. Using 100 hours as an average, a ten-year-old boat with 1000 hours on the engines should have plenty of life left in it.

IF it has been appropriately maintained, and those hours weren’t accrued by going to the fishing grounds on Saturday morning at wide-open throttle.

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

Inboard and outboard boats built before about 2000 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 that time, 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, you may need to move on. Unless it has been so meticulously maintained, there is no question about its dependability.

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.

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 are 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, it can give an owner 6000 to 8000 hours of service before requiring a 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.

Tips for 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. However, 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. However, no matter the boat you buy, it will need maintenance and have 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. If the boat you buy requires storage at a boatyard or a dock, you also need to consider that expense.

How much boat can you afford?

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, fuel system, 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.

Take it for a spin to see if everything works properly, test the boat’s ride, and see if you like it. For example, if a boat seller doesn’t want you to hear the motor running for more than three minutes, it could signify a problem.

Hire a Marine Surveyor

Suppose you don’t feel comfortable with your knowledge of boat engines and systems. In that case, having a Marine survey may be in order. If you buy a massive, complex, expensive boat, this is especially so.

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 many hours a boat has on its engines matters

Now you know what you need to before you start looking at boats to buy. If you are unsure of what you need and can afford, find a professional, and they will guide you in the right direction.

As for how you will afford maintenance on your new boat, list it with Boatsetter, and rent it 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.


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