Changing Oil in Your Boat
Revised by BoatUS editors in June 2012
As with your car, the more frequently you change your oil the better. Oil is your engine's life blood, and neglecting it can cause irreversible damage. This is particularly true when you're laying up for the winter. Residual acids and moisture left in the crankcase over the winter can pit bearings and other vital engine parts. For this reason we recommend that you change your oil immediately before laying up for the winter, or whenever your boat is likely to be idle for a prolonged period of time.
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). This applies to both gasoline and diesel engines. If your engine is brand new, we recommend that you change the oil once every 20 hours for the first 100 hours of operation. As your motor gets older, it requires less frequent changes as the internal parts bed themselves. For your engine's exact requirements, consult your owner's manual.
You probably already know that if you use your boat a lot, regular oil changing is a must. Did you know that if you use your boat infrequently, oil changing is even more important? This is because oil can change its makeup over time, becoming acidic and destructive to internal engine parts. Either way, oil changing is important, and your engine will always run better with fresh oil in it.
Oil changing is a simple operation, but there are a few things to bear in mind if you want to get the best results
- Before changing, run your engine for a few minutes. This will lower the oil's viscosity and suspend the contaminants.
- Shut off your engine and change the oil and filter.
- Prepare in advance to collect oil from sump and filter without spilling it, and for proper disposal.
- A good tip is to rub some oil on the filter's gasket, as this helps it seat better.
- Restart your engine and allow it to run for about a minute to allow the oil to circulate.
- Check for leaks while it's running.
Your engine's livelihood is not to be taken lightly. Simply changing your oil regularly will pay dividends in the long run. It will run smoother, have a longer working life, and be more reliable.