What Is an Outboard Powerhead?

by Melissa McCormick; Updated October 25, 2017

A powerhead can be found on the outboard motor of a boat; it is more common on small boat than a large one. The outboard motor is a system that propels the boat and helps to guide steering and direction. The powerhead is an integral part of the outboard motor, as it helps to hold all of the parts together.


The job of the powerhead on an outboard motor is to keep all of the pieces of the outboard motor intact. The powerhead is also the central piece that helps to protect the engine from damage. The piece contains parts such as gaskets, nuts and bolts.


Powerheads need to be cleaned due to salt water and debris buildup. They usually need to be repaired or replaced at least once during the lifetime of the boat. Failing to clean, repair or replacing the powerhead can lead to engine problems or failure. Removing the powerhead yourself can be very difficult. The powerhead is very heavy, making it difficult to move and easily broken.


Outboard Powerhead repairs can be costly. "Florida Sport Fishing" suggests having a replacement powerhead put on your boat, rather than repairing the existing one; repairs can cost nearly as much as replacement. Replacing an outboard powerhead costs approximately $3250 -- plus installation -- as of December 2010. Repairs can vary based on shop and location.

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