What Is Considered High Hours For an Outboard Motors?

Like a motor vehicle, the lifespan of an outboard motor is not known by many people. Some boat owners claim that their engine lasted 10 or 20 years. Many factors determine the high hours of outboard motors. How long you use it and the kind of upkeep will evaluate the specific timeline. No matter all those facts, general guidelines will help you determine how long the outboard motor will last.

So what is considered high hours for an outboard motor? A two or four-stroke outboard engine should provide you with 1500hours of usage. It is deemed to be high hours for an outboard motor if used for 200 hours a year as that will mean the boat will last like seven to eight years.

Even though an outboard engine has been used for that long, there are steps you can take to add more years. Changing oil every 50 hours and regularly flush the engine will last from 10 to 20 years.

Just because your outboard motor has high hours, it does not mean it will die prematurely. There are a lot of factors that can make your outboard motor prematurely die. The main factors include how often you use it and how much you change the oils and maintain them. All that will affect how long the motor will last. Read through from end to end to learn more about the longevity of outboard motors.

How Long Should a Motor Last?

For different types of reasons, you cannot tell how long an outboard motor will last.

What Is Considered High Hours For an Outboard Motors?

According to the manufacturing industry, an outboard motor is supposed to last 1500 hours of use. If you use the boat for like 200 hours a year, it should last seven to eight years.

That does not mean an outboard motor cannot last several years. There are a lot of two-stroke motors that have lasted twenty to thirty years. That means today’s four-stroke motors should also last that long. If you don’t take care of the motor, it will last a lot fewer hours.

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Factors That Determine How Long An Outboard Motor Will Last

Below are some of the factors that will determine how long the outboard motor will last.

Four-Stroke vs. Two-Stroke

There is no significant difference between a two-stroke and four-stroke outboard motor in terms of hours. They both have a lifespan of 1500hrs, but two-stroke outboards are more likely to tear and wear, but they are easier to maintain.

Two strokes must have the correct oil to fuel mixture, and the operator is the one that controls that when fuelling up the boat. If the operator improperly mixes the oil and gas, the two-stroke will wear out faster than expected. You have to know the kind of mixture your tank needs so that you can accurately mix it.


Most people believe that using an outboard motor in saltwater will destroy it. However, outboard motors can last a very long time on saltwater when they are properly maintained. Ensure that there is no type of corrosion, and make sure you frequently flush with fresh water.

There are several products available in the market that will help you keep the motor corrosion-free. Some sprays prevent corrosions that you use to coat the engine. The spray will prevent the engine from being eroded in the first place, so you will never have to deal with such a problem.

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How You Use The Boat

You have to learn that an engine will not survive if left for a long time without being used. The longer the oil sits there without any circulation, the longer there will be corrosion. All the internal components that need oil to move around for cleaning and lubrication will start rusting. Outboard motors are much underused as they are used for a few hours in a year.

If you live in a climate that needs a whole season of layoff, the usage will be way lower. For the best performance, make sure the outboard motor goes out to the water at least weekly. Warm up the engine, run the boat at cruising power for a few minutes, and then you can take it back.

Type Of Trips Taken

When you start and stop, it can be very rough on the engine. Engine wants to be run on RMP, so you don’t want short idle trips as they are bad for your engine. Running the engine at maximum power will also put a lot of stress on the motor than running on a cruise setting.

Missed Maintenance

Not doing regular maintenance and missing the oil changes will decrease the hours the outboard motor will run. Since most people use their boats less often, it is easy to forget to maintain them. You will need to change your outboard monthly for it to last long.

If you are not sure how long you should keep the motor running, you should look at the manual. In the maintenance section, you will see a table that shows you the tasks you should complete in terms of hours and months. It will clearly show you if you have been lagging or you are right o track.

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Lifting The Outboard

If the boat is always on the water, then you should lift the outboard high. When left in water for a long time, primarily saltwater, the outboard will erode, ensuring you raise the outboard. Check the anodes to make sure they are in good condition and if corroded, make sure you replace them.

How Do High Hours Of An Outboard Motor Affect The Boat Value?

When buying a second-hand boat, you will always see lines like barely used and low hours. So does that mean the boat is in great condition? It is hard to find an excellent boat that has already been used. Because they are also very scarce, it means you cannot be very selective. An average used boat has been used for 5-200 hours per year which can be a good or bad thing.

Someone buying a second-hand boat will ask how many hours the outboard motor has. That is because they think that the lower the hours, the better the boat. Yes, that is true to an extent and has been an accepted truth for many years in the boating industry. Below are factors you should also consider apart from the number of hours:

All Hours Are Not Equal

Take an engine that has been used very gently for 400 hours and another used for 300 hours but in very harsh environments and run by an aggressive operator. The former boat is definitely in way better condition than the latter. The only issue you will find with the former boat is a few maintenance issues, but it will still last longer than the other. Therefore, no matter the hours, how the boat has been used through those hours will also affect the boat’s value.

Time Can Be Harder Than Usage

If a boat has sat idle for most of its life, no matter how low hours it has, a boat that has been used will be in much better condition. That is because a used boat will have been serviced regularly and undergone all the required maintenance compared to the left to sit idly. The idle boat will have problems like fuel degradation, corrosion, sun exposure, and even impellers taking shape.

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So What Is Considered High Hours For An Outboard Motor?

You will know that an outboard motor has high hours when the boat worked well enough for years and has excellent usage. If the seller has indicated high hours, they loved using the boat, and it worked well. That means they were satisfied with the boat, and you will most likely get the same type of satisfaction.

However, anything above 1000 hours is very high, but they loved it if it got used that long.

Most boats that are 15 years and older don’t have an hour meter, and if they do, it is hard to know if the hour meter is original. You have to know when the hour meter was installed and if it has been changed out. If the engine is an MPI or EFI model, then it has a computer that logs in the hours, and that means it is more accurate than the boats that have dash gauges.

If a seller has indicated that his boat has low hours, it can be a sign of import. You have to be careful about where the boat was imported from; if it was used on saltwater, then there is a chance that the outboard motor is highly stressed. It would help if you also were careful about boats imported from a sunny climate, those that sat around on auction houses and yards for long periods.


So, what are you supposed to do when buying a second-hand boat? High or low hours should not deter you from getting your dream boat. Ask for maintenance records, and make sure you ask where the boat is from and what it was used to do. Find a dealer you can trust and one that cares about finding the right boat for you. Just because an outboard motor is considered to have high hours does not mean it will die soon; if it was well maintained, it could go on for several years. Low hours do not represent the boat is in excellent condition; ensure it is well maintained before buying it.


Hi, I’m John who owns multiple different boats and i love all kinds of water activities. From boating to fishing, from scuba diving to windsurfing, from water tubing to snow tubing.

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