Advice on Narrowboat Engine Maintenance
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Mon Sep 10, 2018 at 10:03am

Repairs to a narrowboat engine can be expensive. In this article we will give advice on how to maintain your engine to help prevent breakdown later on.

Keep it Clean

A clean engine will be a lot easier to maintain than a dirty one. This is because you'll be more likely to spot water or oil leaks and potential issues, which left unattended for any length of time could end up costing a lot more to repair. If you paint the engine bay in a white or very light colour it will reflect the light and make it much easier to work on.

Inspect Regularly

Make a habit of regularly checking your engine for any signs of leaks, loose wires or other issues. The quicker you find a problem the easier, and often the less expensive it is to fix. It could potentially save you breaking down when you least want to too!


Check oil Regularly

Firstly, check the colour of the old oil. It should look clean: if it’s black you may have an overheating problem, if it’s a milky colour water may be getting into it. In either case, you need to fix the problem before changing the oil.Assuming all is well, remove the dipstick and use a pump to extract the oil. Replace with the oil recommended in the manual, usually either a standard engine oil or automatic transmission fluid, and check the level with the dipstick. Gearbox dipsticks often screw in place – if yours is of this type, don’t screw it in to take the reading as the stick measures from the bottom of the thread.

Change the Oil and filters

You should change the oil and oil filters at least once a year.This is best done at the end of your cruising season so that acidic dust caused by the engine is not left sitting in the engine throughout winter causing corrosion. The engine oil anf filter should ideally be changed every 250 running hours, so how often a year you do this will depend on how much you use your boat.

Read our blog on how to change the engine oil on your narrowboat.

Protect from Frosts

Keep your boats engine cooling systems and any closed gas or solid fuel heating systems from freezing during the winter by putting in enough antifreeze to protect against severe frosts. This will protect the boat against the cost of having to repair a cracked block due to freezing temperatures.