Engine Maintenance Tips
May 29, 2011 6:50 PM | Tagged as Engine

Engine Maintenance
An internal combustion engine needs four basic ingredients to run efficiently and last a long time. They are: clean Oil (lubrication), clean Fuel, clean Air and a Cooling system to remove excess heat.

Oil: Let's start with the oil. You should check your oil level with the dipstick on a regular basis, say every time you get fuel. If, however, you are on a trip, you should check it at least once a day. You must change both the oil and the filter at regular intervals recommended by the engine manufacturer. If that information is not available, then every 100-engine hours is the next best thing. Engine hours, on most boats, are recorded on the tachometer. Good oil does not wear out, but it does get dirty, so use the right oil for your engine and change it often.

Fuel: There are two things that can mess up the fuel supply on a boat: Water and Dirt.

Invest in a good filter/water separator and make sure that you always carry a spare replacement cartridge. On marine engines, many problems are fuel related. If you store your fuel for an extended period of time (3 months or more), you should consider adding some type of fuel stabilizer to it.

Air: Your engine requires lots of air. Check your flame arrester located on top of the throttle body or carburetor, if you have a gasoline engine, for oil grease or dirt. Remove the flame arrestor if it is dirty. Clean it with a non-explosive cleaning solution. DO NOT run your gasoline engine without the flame arrestor!

Cooling: Engines use the water that they are sitting in to remove excess heat created by the burning of fuel during operation. You should find out what type of cooling system your engine uses (Direct or Closed). However, no matter which system you have, both use the water around them for cooling. Each engine has a water pump that pulls water from the lake, river or sea and sends it through the cooling system. Knowing where the pump is located and how to install a new impeller is a necessity. The pump is usually installed on the outside of the engine and is belt driven. Carrying a spare impeller can save much time and money when you really need it.

While your engine is doing its job by pushing you through the water, check your engine monitoring gages regularly and learn what they read when everything is normal. If your oil pressure starts to fluctuate or go down, SHUT your engine down, check the oil level and look for signs of oil where it doesn't belong. If your temperature gauge starts to climb, STOP your engine Immediately and look for the problem, most probably a broken hose or the water pump. DO NOT try to coax an engine, that has little or no oil pressure, or one that is overheated, back to the dock or the launch ramp. If you do, you can plan on probably buying a new engine! Listen for a change in the sound of your engine. This is generally a sign of engine trouble.

The days when you could tune-up your own engine are mostly gone. Today's engines with their black box computers require a trained technician, with his own computer, to fix them. Develop a good relationship with your marina and/or boat dealer. Let them do this imprtant work unless you really have a good handle on it yourself.

My experience shows that when boats that break down they are just getting even for the neglect that they've received. Take care of your boat and it will return the favor.

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