Routine boat maintenance

Vessel maintenance doesn't have to be a chore: get into a routine and maintain your boat to prevent breakdown on the water.

This page has tips on the four main areas to check during routine maintenance of your vessel.

Check the motor

Manufacturers usually recommend a service by a specialised workshop at least once a year- even if the motor is hardly used. This ensures vital internal parts such as the water pump are checked. If your motor is used regularly, you should change your gear-box oil every three months.

  • Replace your pull cord if it is fraying
  • Check all wiring
  • Clean spark-plugs, check gaps and replace if required
  • Check compression
  • Lubricate all moving parts
  • Check and re-fill gear case oil
  • Clean cooling system passages
  • Check propeller and nut – sand or file any small cracks
  • Check and replace the sacrificial anode if required.

Check the fuel

  • Always replace old fuel - never go out with fuel which is more than six months old
  • Make sure you have enough fuel for the trip - 1/3 out, 1/3 back and 1/3 in reserve
  • Clean your fuel tank at least once a year with a suitable solvent and dispose of old fuel responsibly
  • Inspect the fuel tank for cracks or corrosion
  • Always replace old fuel after periods of inactivity
  • Inspect fuel lines, manual priming bulb and connections for cracks and leaks
  • Clean out or replace fuel filter
  • For fuel disposal please make contact with your local council for details.

Check the batteries

  • Top up battery cells with distilled water and check each cell with a hydrometer
  • The battery should be charged at a rate that is suitable to the battery and should never be over-charged
  • Batteries should be secured in brackets
  • Battery terminals, cables and casing should be kept clean
  • Grease terminals regularly
  • Test all equipment that uses the battery.

Check the structure

  • Clean and paint your boat regularly
  • Inspect boat for corrosion and cracks
  • Ensure all bungs are suitable and in good condition
  • Check for water and fuel leaks
  • Check and grease drain flaps
  • Ensure bilges are clean and dry
  • Test steering for stiffness - oil cables with the correct lubricant.

We also recommend keeping the following items on board:

  • Engine manual
  • Flywheel pull rope
  • Spare 'O' rings for fuel connector
  • New spark-plugs
  • Spark-plug spanner (or diesel injector spanner)
  • Ratchet with extender and shifting spanner
  • Spare fuses, bung and shackle
  • Sharp knife, pliers and screwdrivers
  • Spare propeller nut, washer, split pins and socket for propeller nut
  • Steel wool to clean battery terminals
  • De-watering spray (RP7 or similar)
  • Spare oil and funnel
  • Spare key and stop harness (kill switch lanyard).

Download our 'Boat structure checklist' as a PDF or accessible word document:

You should also follow our seasonal maintenance schedule and learn how to prevent fires.

If you'd like a professional to look over your vessel, you can find a provider list on the Boating Industry Association of Victoria (BIAV) website.

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