Running a Boat Fleet: 5 Ways to Spot Marine Diesel Engine Issues Before They Occur

Are you running a business which operational involves boats? If so, I’m sure you’re aware that maintenance is one of the issues you need to address when running a fleet of boats.

Boat sailing

One that often cripple businesses is marine diesel engine problems. The engines are known to cause quite a few headaches to boat owners if not kept in good shape. Fortunately, many of these issues are easy to prevent and fix even with little or no knowledge of how the engines work.

All you need is a small array of tools and spare parts. However, keeping an eye on these issues and making sure they never occur in the first place is an even more effective method.

In this article, we give you 5 methods to spot diesel engine issues before they get the chance to cause you a major headache.

Routine Maintenance & Checkups

Even though most boat owners know that diesel engines are delicate pieces of equipment necessary for their boat’s smooth operation, many still neglect routine checkups with reliable diesel engine repair companies.

During these checkups, a professional technician will scan through the engine and make sure all of its components are working properly. But more importantly, they can spot and fix a breakdown before it even occurs, often out in the open sea.

The maintenance should be conducted either per working hours or after a specific time period, although scheduling maintenance per working hours is a better choice as it factors in the frequency of usage, as suggested here:

This essentially means that if you schedule maintenance once every six months, the results may vary as you are more likely to use your boat during spring and summer and let it lie dormant during fall and winter.

Look for Issues Yourself

Nobody likes finding out that their diesel engine is broken, but it’s better to find the issue while your boat is docked. Even if you take your ship to a mechanic for a routine maintenance, actively checking for issues yourself once in a while won’t do any harm.

Quite the contrary. You can locate issues such as black dust buildup or chaffed belts and clean or replace them before they can cause even more trouble.

Listen for Issues

The sounds coming from the engine and the exhaust can reveal a lot about diesel engine issues. Listen to the cylinders in particular. When you turn the engine on do they start simultaneously or does one sound out of sync and starts thudding early compared to the rest? If so, there’s clearly an issue you need to address before it escalates.

The exhaust, on the other hand, can give you valuable insight into the state of your cooling system. A completely functional cooling system sounds different to a dry, hollow sound coming from a cooling system that has a trouble with the flow.

Try to Spot Distinctive Patterns

This might be tricky as problems with diesel engines tend to occur slowly and most often go unnoticed. For example, you may not notice that it’s harder to achieve a cold start with your three-cylinder diesel engine. If it happens way too often you might not perceive this as an issue but rather the way your engine works.

However, this issue can become progressively worse to the point where it can make the engine impossible to start. Therefore, try to keep a log of any issues you come across, no matter how minute they might seem at that moment.

Check the Voltage

An easy way to make sure everything is running smoothly with your engine is to connect a digital voltmeter to the battery terminals and then turn the engine on.

As the starter motor draws a lot of power the voltage should be around 9.5V and 10V. If it’s less your battery may be drained or there might be some corrosion on the electrical connection.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *