6 Common Reasons Why Boats Break Down or Become Damaged

Published
10/19/2018

Most people who own boats love them even more than their cars, but that love is no guarantee she won’t break down on you. Professional maintenance on a regular basis is recommended and mandatory for those of us that do not have the time or knowledge to maintain our boats all by ourselves, but even then, at least knowing the basics is essential if you have a boat. On that note, here are six top reasons why boats break down and what you can do to handle the situation better.

Lack of Surface Protection

Every car needs paint protection to keep the paint job from becoming faded or chipping after a few months, so it isn’t hard to imagine how much more that same protection is needed for a boat, which basically spends all its time on the water! To prevent your boat from losing its aesthetic and resale value, use a customized vinyl finishing for boats to protect it against any natural surface damage. You will have plenty of choices in terms of design and color, so feel free to take this opportunity and add a bit of your own personality to your boat, to makes it stand out from the rest.

Filter Problems

If your engine is sputtering and you are losing power in spite of having enough fuel in the tank, the problem is probably related to the filter. To counter this situation, follow the steps mentioned below.

  • Replace the fuel filter with your spare (you should always bring at least one)
  • In case you don’t have a spare, clean out the filter as best you can
  • Vent the engine box if you have an I/O before you restart the engine

To prevent this from happening in the first place, be mindful of the following:

  • Don’t leave the tank nearly-empty/empty for long stretches of time
  • Fill the tank for long storage and add a fuel stabilizer to it

The Water has Stopped Cooling the Engine

Smaller boats do not generally have radiators. This is why the first sign which confirms that the water flow to the cooling loop has stopped happens to be an overheated engine. If you see the temperature of the engine is rising dangerously high, shut it down before it overheats and fails. After that, follow the steps below.

  • Check what’s obstructing the raw water intake and clean it out
  • Use soft wire or a rod a to clear intake clogs if needed
  • Check if a hose has split or a hose clamp has come loose and tend to it
  • If none of that works, call in help from a towing company

While the raw water intake is often obstructed by weeds or plastic bags, a split hose is a much more serious situation. To avoid such problems, always call in professionals to check and maintain your boat regularly, and especially before heading out for a cruise.

Dead Battery

Nothing is more frustrating than getting to your boat and finding out that it won’t start. More often than not, a dead battery is the culprit here, and if that is indeed the issue, you will need to recharge it, which is going to take a while.

Malfunctioning Propeller

When your boat begins to vibrate every time you try to ramp up the speed, it is almost certainly originating from a malfunctioning propeller. The blades are probably not in perfect symmetry anymore due to an underwater encounter with a fishing line or something big and solid. Very few people carry a spare propeller or can change one in the middle of the water, even when they have one, so the best thing to do at this time would be to head back to shore at a speed that doesn’t make the boat quiver too much.

Low Hydraulic Fluid

If you can’t turn the wheel of the boat, it should be fairly obvious that there’s not enough hydraulic fluid to allow that. This could be a simple case of the boat running low on fluid or in the worst-case scenario, you could have a leak. Nonetheless, you need to add the fluid with a small funnel and see if it starts leaking from somewhere. Head back to shore if there’s a leak and you can’t fix it for the time being.

Nobody wants to end up in a situation where you are miles from land and the boat just won’t start or has begun to show signs of shutting down. Neither does it feel great to call some friends over to your boat for a cruise and have them point out that your boat looks much older than it should! These six tips will not only keep you from facing some of the most common embarrassments, but they will also help you to manage some of them if you are ever unlucky enough to be caught in a bad situation. Also, invest in a complete toolkit for your boat and make sure it’s always onboard.