Keeping the SPARK in Your Boat Engine


Whether you have a speed boat, pontoon boat or fishing boat, there is nothing like a day on the water. The sun, the cool breeze off the water and the gentle rocking of the boat makes for a relaxing day.


You launch your boat and begin to cruise. Before you know it, your boat engine starts acting up and your day of fun is over. You get your boat off the water and begin to troubleshoot what could have gone wrong with the engine. Could it be the spark plugs?

What do spark plugs do in my boat’s engine?

A key component of your boat’s engine, marine spark plugs take in high voltage electricity at one end and ignite a spark at the other end. That spark fires the air and fuel mixture within the engine and creates the combustion that powers your boat.



Signs that your boat’s spark plugs are failing include:


To know for sure if a fouled or damaged spark plug is the cause of your boat’s engine issues, you’ll need to examine the spark plugs. Inspect the spark plugs for damage to the insulator tip, boot and upper and lower insulators.


Next, check the spark plugs for signs of fouling. A fouled spark plug occurs when the plug isn’t burning fuel normally, leaving damage to the plug which can cause the engine not to start. A normal spark plug will appear dry with a grayish color. A wet spark plug can indicate water in the fuel while a white residue on the plug can point to a plug that is too hot. If the plug is black with soot, it can mean that the fuel has too much oil while an eroded plug can indicate a too-hot plug.


When to change your spark plugs

If the spark plugs show signs of damage or fouling, new ones may be in order. An easy fix, for a few dollars you can get your boat engine running again.


The length of time between spark plug changes depends on variables such as how many hours you use your boat and how you are using it. For further recommendations, consult your owner’s manual or your trusted boat mechanic.


What happens if I don’t change my boat’s spark plugs?

If a bad spark plug remains in your engine for the long period of time, the effects can be devastating to your engine. Sooting can occur which can ruin your boat’s engine.



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