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How to Figure Hours on an Outboard Motor

by Corey Morris

Many boats are equipped with a hour meter that tracks of how many hours the motor has been used. While this knowledge may not seem useful, knowing the estimated usage of an outboard boat motor is important in determining if the motor needs maintenance. Wear and tear occurs inside the motor carriage when the motor is used for many hours without maintenance. Therefore, knowing how many hours an engine has been used is crucial in understanding more about your outboard motor.

Inspect the engine for an installed hour meter. The meter can usually be found above the engine or somewhere around the steering area of the boat. The numbers on the meter show how many hours the engine has been in use. If there is no hour meter, one should be installed by a marine mechanic.

Contact the previous owner of the boat if possible to see if the hour meter was installed after the boat was purchased or if it came with the boat. Sometimes the owner's manual has this information. If the meter has been on the boat since production, the reading is accurate.

Calculate a rough estimate of the hours. Use simple multiplication to determine the runtime. For example, if the boat is five years old and has been used primarily only once a month at five hours a day, the estimated usage would equal 300 hours.

Conduct a compression test on the engine. The test, which can be completed by a marine mechanic, determines the amount of wear the engine has endured. While the number of hours cannot be determined by a compression test, an estimate of the runtime can be calculated from the wear the engine has endured. A well-worn engine has seen more hours of use than a less stressed motor.

Tips

  • If the hour meter was ever disconnected during the boat's life, the number of hours will not be accurately reflected.
  • A compression test may also point out early signs of engine damage or pinpoint necessary repairs.

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About the Author

Corey Morris has been writing since 2009. He has been a reporter for his campus newspaper, "The Rotunda" and is the publication's news editor. His work focuses on topics in news, politics and community events. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in political science and mass media from Longwood University in Farmville, Va.

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