Common Boat Engine Problems


If you’re a marine enthusiast, it’s important to have basic knowledge and understanding of some problems you might experience with your boat. In particular, the engine or motor of a boat can experience difficulties or issues from time to time.

A lot of responsibilities come with owning a boat, so being aware of these can help you identify problems and have conversations with your local marine mechanic. Being prepared and knowing some of the things to watch for is important so you can get your boat to a repair shop right away.

You can also learn to service a boat yourself, whether it be professionally as a career or as a hobby that will benefit you as a boat owner. The best part is that you can do this in less than a year through the Marine Technology program at Marine Mechanics Institute (MMI).1

Keep on reading to learn more about some of the boat issues that marine mechanics routinely fix.

Customary Boat Repairs

There are a number of things that could come up when you’re ready to launch a boat or even when you’re out on the water. It’s important that you take your boat to a dealer or service center to get it looked at if you’re experiencing any of these problems.

Poor Battery Connection

If a boat’s engine gets power from a battery bank, sometimes the connections shake loose. This happens from vibrations created when the boat is out on the water.

Another possible issue with the engine and battery connection is corrosion.  It’s recommended to take your boat to a service center periodically to ensure corrosion isn’t building up.

Twisted Fuel Line

Something else that can prevent your boat’s engine from working properly is damage to the fuel line. Checking the line that runs from the tank to the engine is a good first step to make sure it’s not twisted or damaged in any way.

A twisted or crimped fuel line can’t supply fuel to your engine, which will result in it not starting. A marine mechanic will be able to fix a twist or replace it if necessary.

An Overheating Engine

Just like in a motor vehicle, the engine on a boat is something that needs to be kept cool. For this to happen, the engine pulls in coolant through the water pump. A number of things can contribute to inadequate cooling of the engine.

You might need an entirely new water pump, or you could just be low on oil or coolant. You should check these levels on a routine basis to maintain the system.

Another issue that could be causing an overheating engine is exhaust blockage.

The exhaust manifold can corrode or wear down over time, which can cause complete engine failure if not addressed. Corrosion or faults should be taken care of by a marine mechanic.

Propeller Damage

Propellers have the potential to hit rocks or get tangled in fishing lines or weeds. While you might not associate propeller issues with a boat’s engine, problems with the propeller can cause your engine to vibrate excessively.

This could mean your propeller is loose or damaged. Fixing a propeller is something best left to marine technicians, so if you suspect anything is wrong with yours, take it to a shop right away.

A Marine student adjusts a propeller in an MMI lab.

Ignition Switch Failure

If a boat motor stops suddenly, checking to see if someone accidently hit the emergency stop switch is a good place to start. If this isn’t the case and you have plenty of fuel, the problem could stem from an ignition system issue or a loose electrical connection.

Another cause might be corrosion or an ignition system malfunction. It’s important to have any electrical issues checked by a marine mechanic. They can inspect the ignition system and all electrical connections, then repair as necessary to get you back on the water.

Maintain and Fix Watercraft for a Living

If you can see yourself working near the water and you love boats, pursuing a career in the marine industry could be for you.

There are a number of career options out there for those who have a passion for watercraft, including a future as a marine technician. Marine technicians are trained to work on boats of all shapes and sizes, learning how to repair and maintain important systems.

Attending a trade school like MMI can help give you a foundational education that can be applied to a career in the industry. The Marine Technology program combines hands-on training with classroom instruction that is valuable in the workforce.2

As a marine technician, some of the duties you can expect to perform include anything from the routine maintenance highlighted above to observing and testing boating equipment and communicating with customers. You can work on a range of watercraft, such as sailboats or sport-fishing boats.

Having education and experience with marine technology will help you when seeking a job in the industry. It’s possible to take your passion and turn it into a career doing what you love.

Graduate MMI in Less Than a Year

Does pursuing a career as a marine technician sound like the right fit for you? You can graduate the Marine Technology program at MMI in less than a year, with the program running 51 weeks from start to finish.7

Request more information hereto be connected with an Admissions Representative today!

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1.3 )  MMI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
2 ) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit
7 ) Some programs may require longer than one year to complete.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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