Inboard Boat Maintenance Checklist

Close up of tools with boats in the background

The key to your boat engine’s performance and longevity is ongoing preventative maintenance and immediate attention when things go wrong. Inboard boat maintenance ensures that your engine runs as it should while you are on the water. It also reduces repair and replacement costs by fixing issues early on. Whether you choose DIY maintenance or hire a boat repair expert, make boat maintenance a priority.

Below is an inboard boat maintenance checklist. If you have any further questions, please call Pensacola Shipyard. We are here to help you with all your boating needs.

Engine Flushing 

Flushing your boat engine is an essential part of maintenance. Flushing clears the saltwater & sand from your motor, preventing salt buildup and corrosion. Salt builds up inside your motor, causing various issues that can keep your boat from performing well. Most outboard manufacturers recommend a freshwater flush after every use in salt water to clear the cooling passages of salt residue and scale that can accumulate and impede the flow of vital cooling water through the engine.

Engine Cleaning 

Every time you pull your boat out of saltwater, wash and wax the exterior of the motor. In addition to keeping the inboard motor clean, regular washing and waxing makes it look great and protects it against harmful salt buildup. The engine may need grease, a deep cleaning and an inspection of your skeg and prop.

Oil Change 

When a marine engine has a problem, it may be related to dirty oil or a dirty oil filter. Changing your oil is a type of preventative maintenance that keeps your inboard engine in prime shape. Most engine manufacturers recommend that you change your oil every 50-100 hours. Check your owner’s manual for your engine’s exact interval requirements.

Check Power-Trim Fluid Levels  

Tilt and trim adjust the angle of the motor and the running surface of the boat. They determine the smoothness of the ride, the grip on the water, the ability to jump on plane and many other operations. You should perform standard maintenance on your power tilt and trim after the first 20 hours. Check the power-trim fluid levels during maintenance. 

Cooling System Check 

Run the engine on a hose adapter or at the dock to ensure proper cooling system operation before you go out on the water. When the engine is cool, check water hoses for age, brittleness and dry rot. Hoses should be pliant yet firm, not too soft.

Skeg Belt Damage 

The skeg of an outboard or sterndrive gear case provides directional stability and steering ease. Whether caused by running aground or another incident, a broken or damaged skeg affects handling. In most cases, a repair technician or welder can repair your skeg. Doing so will help you maintain your drive and props. 

Belt Check 

Correct tension and proper pulley alignment are essential for long belt life. Poor alignment and tension can destroy a belt within a few hours and cause equipment failure. To check the belts, press between the pulleys. The belts should be difficult to spring together and instantly spring back when you release them. Also, check for cracks, brittleness, dry rot, thin areas or any abnormal wear. 

Check Steering from Lock to Lock 

When a helm is specified as having a certain number of turns “lock to lock,” it means the number of steering wheel rotations necessary to fully extend the cable from a retracted state. While steering from lock to lock, check the cables for binding or stiffness. Clean any crud from the steering rams and check the hydraulic steering for any air pockets, sponginess or erratic operation.

Avoid Ethanol Fuel 

Avoid fueling up with ethanol fuel if possible. While using alternative fuel may be more expensive, fueling up at the Pensacola Shipyard, where non-ethanol fuels are readily available, may save money in the long run.

Check the Propeller 

Once you haul the boat out of the water, it’s a lot easier to inspect the propellers, prop shafts, seals and zincs. It’s also a good time to get any needed repairs or maintenance done, rather than waiting until the start of next season when everyone else is clamoring to get their boats fixed. 

Contact Pensacola Shipyard Today 

Conveniently located on the protected waters of Bayou Chico, Pensacola Shipyard is the Emerald Coast’s premier shipyard. We have everything that you need to take care of your vessel. Whether your boat needs in-water or out of the water service, we have the boatyard capabilities and resources to get the job done.

Contact Pensacola Shipyard at 850-780-8441 to schedule service or find out more about our facilities.