Marine engines require routine maintenance to ensure their reliability and to run smoother for longer. Even though most marine engines will need to be repaired at some point, performing regular maintenance on them prolongs their overall lifespan and prevents major unexpected repairs.Below, Southern Power’s Service Manager, Dan Nelson, answers a few common questions asked by boat owners and provides helpful tips that will ensure your engine gives you the maximum time on the water.What are the most common marine engine problems?A lack of care, corrosion, and extended idle times can cause diesel engines to corrode due to salt water ingress and condensation.The number one cause of these engine problems is negligence. People buy a boat and enjoy it and look after it for a while, but then lose interest, and negligence sets in along with corrosion and oil that becomes acid in the engine. Parts in the engine above the oil start rusting and pistons seize in their sleeves. And the list goes on.Here’s how often you should:Do general maintenance?  Every engine is different. My advice for both inboard and outboard engine owners would be to start by reading the owners-manual carefully and to carry out maintenance according to the engine hours or yearly if the engine is not used that often.Do prop checks? For a vessel lying at a mooring in saltwater, I recommend cleaning, polishing, and anti-fouling every 6 months.Flush out your engine? I suggest flushing every time after use.Change the oil? As per the factory recommendation at recommended intervals, but at least once a year.

maintenance2TIP: Do these checks each time before you head out onto the water.I suggest checking your oil and water levels and for leaks under the engine. Start the engine and listen for any strange noises, then proceed slowly until the engine reaches operating temperature.What type of maintenance does a boat owner handle by him-/herself?Boat owners can handle the big three themselves: lubricant, cooling, and clean fuel. Keeping the coolant quality balanced in the system reduces corrosion. Engines perform better and cooler when running on clean fuel. Clean fuel is absolutely fantastic but is unfortunately not always available. My tip: buy enough fuel so that you can ignore outlets that sell poor quality fuel.What type of maintenance should be performed by a professional?Valve adjustments, retorquing cylinder heads, turbocharger repairs and fittings, ECM, and Common-Rail Diesels maintenance should only be performed by qualified technicians. Turbochargers especially, as they are specialized units that require specialists’ attention since they can be very dangerous. If fitment and assembly are done incorrectly, turbochargers can blow apart and cause severe damage.TIP: Contact professionals, like the Southern Power team, for help when…You notice something more serious than normal servicing that might require a specialist technician. If you are unsure whether the issue is serious, rather contact a team such as Southern Power, who will be able to advise you best.

maintenance3Which boat type requires the least maintenance?Sailing yacht engines are low maintenance due to their relatively small size and low usage.Diesel vs Petrol vs Electric: Which requires the most maintenance?Diesel engines require less maintenance than petrol engines but need to be monitored closely, especially for corrosion, due to the environmental conditions the engine works in. Electric motors are generally very low maintenance, but also need to be monitored for corrosion. Since electric motors don’t consume fuel or oil, they tend to have a cleaner and more controlled engine space.TIP: Expect the maintenance cost of your various marine engines to differ.The cost of various marine engines differs due to different filters and other engine parts used for specific engines.  TIP: You can find a maintenance manual for your engine online.As an owner, you will have received an owners-manual, however for further information on the proper maintenance of your engine, you can find a maintenance manual online.TIP: Learn how your cooling system/greywater system works.The glycol coolant in your system protects the metals inside your engine and it would be useful to know how to gauge the levels to ensure that there is always sufficient coolant in the system.TIP: How to take care of your marine batteries:Marine batteries are normally sealed and maintenance-free, but I would suggest keeping the batteries always fully charged to prolong battery life.To find out more on how to properly care for your boat and engine, or to book your recommended maintenance with Southern Power, contact our team by emailing or call 021 511 0653 to speak to one of our experts.