Boat Care and Maintenance: How to Keep Your Outboard Engine Looking Like New
Maintaining your outboard engine finish will not only keep it looking great, but will also increase your boat’s resale value.
We all want our boats to look great, including the outboard engines. But outboards have a finish that’s closer to a car’s paint job than it is to the gel coat on your boat’s hullsides. And maintaining it is important not just because a good-looking boat gives you pride, but also because ultimately it’ll help your boat retain resale value. Truth be told, looks count for a lot when you’re trying to sell your boat. So, how will you keep that shiny outboard looking like new? Check out this how-to video, and you’ll be on the right track.
One way to keep your engine looking great that we didn’t address in the video is simply by keeping it covered. As we mentioned, long-term exposure to UV radiation is just about the toughest thing on your engine’s finish (excepting impacts that cause chips, cracks, and scratches, of course). If it’s possible, keeping your boat and outboards in a garage or under a cover will go a long way to keeping its finish like new. Dedicated canvass engine covers can also be purchased to keep the sun off your outboards. But beware—poorly fitting covers can be worse than no cover at all. On windy days an ill-fitted cover can shift back and forth, rubbing against the outboard’s finish, slowly wearing it away. The danger is greatest when you cover your engines with a polypropylene tarp, which can actually do a lot more harm than good. The light polypropylene can whip back and forth in a breeze, and ruin an outboard’s finish in a matter of hours. If you cover your boat with one of these tarps, you need to first wrap the outboards in a cotton sheet or a non-abrasive blanket, to protect them.
Wait a sec—what if your engine looks great but your boat looks, well… let’s just say she ain’t a beauty queen. There may be some serious work in your future but rest assured, the appearance of just about any boat can be brought back into to good condition. Gel coat, clear vinyl curtains and canvass, and paint finishes can all get a facelift. If you want to get Mom’s Mink back into pristine-looking condition, the tips, tricks, and tactics you need to know can be found in:
- Topside Maintenance: Paints, Polishes, and Wraps
- Getting Tough Stains Out of Gelcoat
- How to Restore Slightly Faded Gel Coat on a Boat
- How to Fix Gelcoat Gouges
- How to Clean and Care for Isinglass and Canvass
- Teak Trimming Tips
We must remember, of course, that good looks are only half the battle—you also need to keep that engine running right. And outboards have a long list of maintenance chores that need to get done each and every year. Yes, we do have the know-how you need to get right here on boats.com. Here’s a run-down on some of the how-to outboard maintenance articles and videos you may want to check out:
- 2 Most Common Outboard Engine Issues: Fuel Systems and Flushing
- How to Change Engine Oil in a 4-Stroke Outboard
- How to Change the Thermostat on an Outboard Engine
- How to Winterize a Four-Stroke Outboard
- How to Change the Lower Unit Oil on a Boat
To get a good overview of maintaining your boat from stem to stern, also be sure to read our comprehensive maintenance guide, Basic Boat Maintenance: Gelcoat, Waxing, Marine Canvass, Upholstery, and Brightwork.