An engine is a vital part of any boat that typically lasts for several seasons without significant repairs if you maintain it well. Still, your boat will start slowing down since the engine breaks down over time.
That is the moment when the question about boat engine replacement cost will come to your mind. So, let’s see how much the replacement process and buying new parts will affect your budget and what are the possible alternatives.
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Boat Engine Life Expectancy
Besides the engine type, the period of using your boat before the motor fails primarily depends on the fuel type. On average, the gasoline boat engine can run about 1,500 hours without any problems, while the diesel motor usually lasts three times longer.
Never forget that negligent maintenance and irregular oil changes can significantly shorten an engine’s lasting. Plus, manufacturers design boat motors for long and continuous rides. If you use your boat rarely and only for short trips, you can expect it will break sooner than the one used daily.
Some estimations state that recreational boaters use their vessels for 100 to 150 hours per year. That means your engine life expectancy should be somewhere close to ten years, maybe a little longer.
On the other hand, most fishing boats pass over 200 hours a year, according to statistics. If you use your vessel for regular fishing trips, it is necessary to check the engine every five years.
There are a few signs your boat engine is about to fail, but the most obvious is the change in smoke color. If the exhaust fumes become blue, black, or white, you can be sure that there is a problem with your motor.
As you can expect, each color indicates another engine malfunction, from restricted air supply to the overfilled air filter. Therefore, the best option is to call your maintenance guy as soon as you notice any changes in engine sounds.
Replacement Cost Variations
Estimating boat engine costs in advance is a challenging task. Many factors affect replacement price, but the crucial ones include:
Boat and engine age
The older your boat and the engine are, the more you will pay for the replacement. Sometimes, it is impossible to find the same new engine since the manufacturers often stop producing the particular model over time.
Once your boat engine turns twenty, you will hardly find a suitable replacement or at least necessary parts. Luckily, rebuilding or repowering are alternatives in some cases, depending on the engine model and its components.
An inboard powerboat engine replacement costs approximately $15,000, while you should set aside about $5,000 to $10,000 to replace the motor for a sailboat.
If you have a sailboat with an outboard motor, you will pay significantly less, somewhere around $1,500, because this vessel uses wind as the first power source. So, its engine has a small horsepower, well under 100 HP. In fact, most sailboats with an inboard engine run on 15 to 30 HP.
Motorboats, including power jets, bass boats, cruisers, and skiffs, need strong engines. They start around 200 HP up to over 250 HP. Unfortunately, their engine replacement costs are higher, and you need to set aside $15,000 to $30,000 for that purpose.
There are several boat engine categories, and they all differ by price. Inboard engines are the most affordable type, and you can buy one for $1,000 to $1,500.
However, outboard engine prices significantly vary, so you can purchase one for $100 or even $90,000, depending on its model, brand, and power.
Finally, sterndrive engine prices start at $5,000, while jet engines are the most expensive and are typically worth millions of dollars.
There is also a difference between 2- and 4-stroke boat engines. Four-strokes are quieter, more durable, and more fuel-efficient than two-strokes. Needless to say, they are also more expensive.
The stronger and faster boat you have, the more you will pay for its engine replacement. Of course, the replacement and installation costs grow accordingly.
Average engine cost by boat HP
Generally, installation and labor costs start at a minimal $200, but they can reach ten times larger sum, depending on many factors. Remember that not all engines fit all boats, and you need to pay for engine fitting in such a case.
Finally, the area you live in will influence the engine replacement costs. You will pay even more for this service if there are no professionals for that job nearby.
Engine Components Obtainability
Besides complete engine replacement, you can also ask for a partial replacement. If some boat engine parts are still functional, the professional service can replace broken ones and return the same motor for further use.
This process is way more affordable than a complete replacement. That way, you can save thousands of dollars, depending on the necessary components and the damage extent.
Plus, you can replace several engine parts on your own, like:
- Fuel lift pump, injector pump, and fuel lines
- Oil seal
- Motor mounts
- Raw water pump
- Heat exchanger
You only need to be skillful and have adequate tools and spare parts. Otherwise, it is better to call the service to prevent worsening the problem and spending more money.
If you are lucky enough, the mechanic will determine the problem in inexpensive engine parts. For example, replacing some components have low prices, including:
- Pistons kits price is $100 to $200 on average
- Gasket kits cost around $75 to $250
- Rods and bearings are between $80 and $100
- Motor mounts are up to $60
- Cylinder sleeves will cost you around $100
- Crankshafts cost up to $800
Engine Replacement Alternatives
Once the engine begins to break down, you have several choices. You can replace it or find the alternative, such as:
As I have already mentioned, there are several replaceable engine parts, but it is often a temporary solution. The more hours you put on your meter, your engine will need more repairs.
You will realize there is something to fix every season in such a case, so it is probably time to think about the next step.
Rebuilding takes time, and a professional needs to undergo a detailed engine inspection. Then, they will disassemble it into vital parts and put it back together.
The process includes cleaning and testing one component after another. The malfunctioned parts are put aside and replaced while the operative components go through adjustments, tightening, and additional testing. Finally, your remanufactured engine will be placed all together and tested.
Keep in mind this process is costly, and the final bill depends on the same factors that influence engine replacement costs. Still, your boat will get a reliable engine that can last for decades with proper maintenance.
Rebuilding costs start at $3,000, but they can sometimes reach $10,000. Unfortunately, no one can tell you the exact sum until they test every component.
Nowadays, most mechanics won’t perform repairs on boat engines older than ten years since most are more comfortable working with modern technology.
Repowering is one of the alternatives to engine replacement. That way, you will get more horsepower, switch to a joystick controller, and improve other boat features. Still, that is also the most expensive choice you can make.
Repowering costs start well above $15,000. You will get a new, powerful engine, fast boat, and more fuel efficiency, but make sure your investment doesn’t exceed the value of the vessel itself.
Purchasing a New Engine
Once you decide boat engine repair is not a solution, you can pick out the modern replacement engine. Luckily, you can choose from several engine types, including:
- Outboard engines
- Inboard engines
- Sterndrive (both inboard and outboard)
- Jet power
- Surface drives
- Pod drives
- Electric engine
Each motor type has its pros and cons, so the best option is to well-research before making the final purchase. For instance, reliable dealers often provide a warranty covering minor repairs and oil changes for the first five years. Here are some things to keep in mind while browsing for a new engine:
- Fuel efficiency
- Maintenance cost
- Boat purpose
The modern market offers a wide selection of boat engines, and you can quickly find the one that suits both your boat and budget.
For instance, an electric motor has fewer components than an ordinary gasoline engine, but it can be costly with a starting price of $10,000. However, it is highly fuel-efficient and has only one moving part, meaning you will have problems with only a few components over the years.
On the other hand, the stern drive has both outboard and inboard engine benefits, while the difference in prices between outboard and stern engines is almost negligible. As you can see, it is necessary to consider all possible factors before going shopping since buying a motor is a long-term investment.
Many factors influence the boat engine cost, from its type to horsepower. Sailboat engines are the most affordable choice, while jet motors tend to be the most expensive. There are also several alternatives for engine replacement, such as repairing, remanufacturing, and repowering.