Keys to Lowering Fuel Costs
Perform annual engine maintenance per manufacturers recommendations
- Replace spark plugs and inspect wires replace if necessary.
- Replace fuel filters or if not equipped; install water separating fuel filter.
- Replace as needed or at least twice a year if running ethanol based fuels.
- Change the lower unit gear lubricant and inspect regularly.
- Change oil and filter on inboard and outboard 4-cycle applications
- Install tune-up kits on older point/condenser style ignitions or upgrade to pointless ignition kit.
- Add fuel stabilizer year-round to slow down the evaporation process of ethanol-based fuels.
- Replace air filters and keep flame arrestors free from dirt and grime.
Maintain your Bottom!
Keep your boat clean inside and out.
- Have your hull cleaned and keep it clean with wax or bottom anti-fouling paint.
- Keep the inside of your boat clean and clutter free. All that extra "stuff" in the cockpit compartments adds up to a lot of weight and reduces fuel economy.
- Replace worn or stiff steering, throttle or shift cables, and check adjustments. Improperly adjusted or tight, sticky throttle cables can cause the engine to run at higher rpm's wasting fuel.
Watch your speed!
Find optimum cruising speed to stretch your fuel and go the distance.
- Check with the boat manufacturer to find the optimum cruising speed for the boat and engine package.
- Optimum cruising speeds can many times be found online viewing boat test results or visiting boat manufacturer web sites.
- Install a fuel flow meter to monitor fuel consumption and economy.
Choose the right prop
Operating with the correct prop can save fuel and your engine
- Stainless steel propellers are more efficient than aluminum but are less forgiving if you strike an object in the water, potentially causing more damage.
- Under normal load conditions (passengers, fuel, and gear) at Wide Open Throttle (W.O.T.) the engine rpm's should be close too, but not exceed the maximum recommended RPM's for the engine. This way the engine operated at its most efficient level at all RPM ranges.
- Check with engine manufacturer to find the correct WOT rpm range for your engine. Over-revving (WOT rpm's higher than recommended) and lugging (WOT rpm's lower than recommended) can both cause poor fuel efficiency and more importantly severe engine damage!
- Keep your propeller repaired and balanced. Propeller efficiency is greatly reduced by even just a few "nicks" in the blade. Also, whatever caused the "nick" could have thrown the balance off on the propeller, so have it balanced while it is being repaired.
- Remember this rule of thumb; Increasing prop pitch reduces engine rpm's and decreasing pitch raises rpm's. Usually about 500 rpm for each increase/decrease of 2" in pitch.
The shortest distance from A to B is still a straight line!
Be familiar with where you plan to boat and invest in a chart or other navigation aid to help find where you are going.
- Plan your trip in advance and chart the shortest SAFE distance to you destination. You can waste time and fuel by not being familiar with your surroundings.
- In tidal regions, plan for the tides if possible and use them to your advantage to save fuel.
The Bottom Line
It is always less expensive to be preventative about your boat and engine maintenance than to wait for a problem to occur. Take care of your boat and engine and it will take care of you and your family.