Ever since the Great Recession of 2008, it seems like the number of people repowering their boats grows significantly each year. Why? The obvious answer is that when an older outboard engine reaches the end of its service life or the parts to fix it become difficult to find, it’s much cheaper to repower than to buy a new boat-and-engine package.
“Repowering helps boaters keep boating affordable, using the boats they love with confidence,” said Mercury Powertrain Category Director Mike Horak.
But saving money and extending their boat’s usable lifespan aren’t the only reasons more owners are investing in new outboard engines today. Twenty-first century engineering and manufacturing technology advances have made outboards faster, easier to handle, more durable, more reliable, lighter, lower-profile, quieter, and more fuel-efficient.
Should you care? Well, that depends on how you use your boat. If you fish competitively, a repower engine can get your boat to the fishing grounds faster than the other guys. If your favorite fishing hotspots are offshore, better fuel efficiency can give you range to get there. Lower-profile outboard engines also make it easier to reel in a catch from the back of the boat.
The new generation of outboard engines ─ particularly the four-strokes ─ not only are more compact, they also are a lot lighter, giving them a lower power-to-weight ratio, which improves their performance throughout the rpm range. Repowering can give your boat an awesome hole shot, quicker acceleration, higher top end, or possibly all three. If you have an older pontoon boat, a new outboard also might help it get up on plane faster.
The latest outboard engines and the accessories designed to go with them are more intuitive, which can make driving your boat easier. A great example is Mercury’s Active Trim system, which automatically trims your boat properly, increasing engine performance and saving on fuel. Even experienced boaters agree that Active Trim helps make boating hassle-free because they no longer have to constantly monitor and adjust the trim.
The GPS-enabled electronics now available to pair with some of the newer outboard engines also can make boating more enjoyable. Take Mercury’s Skyhook virtual anchoring system. With Skyhook, waiting around in the ICW for the next bridge opening is now a piece of cake! Effortlessly parking over a reef or other favorite fishing structure is a dream come true.
What’s more, the rugged, corrosion-resistant components and coatings developed for today’s outboard engines help them stand up to the harsh marine environment better, particularly in saltwater. Newer outboards also are easier to maintain, thanks to their optimized intake systems, more accessible ports, and longer service intervals.
Finally, the warranty protection that comes with a new outboard engine is a powerful incentive to repower. “Owners want to have continued factory warranty coverage to reduce hassle,” said Mike.
Will repowering improve your boat’s resale value? That depends on the boat and its condition.
“If a boat is undesirable or and/or not in good overall condition, then the value is limited regardless of the propulsion,” Mike says. “But if a boat is in good condition and the model is very desirable, then it definitely is worth more if it has reliable propulsion under warranty versus a broken propulsion system.”
If you’re thinking about repowering your boat, here are a few things to consider:
- Your first priority should be to choose a trusted service dealer who can help you find the right propulsion package for your boat.
- It’s important to have a clear budget in mind and to articulate your individual goals for the repower, so you get exactly what you want out of it.
- When you are shopping for outboard engines, make sure to compare their warranties and available extended coverage; not all manufacturers offer the same level of protection.
- Are you interested in making other upgrades, repairs, or changes to the boat at the same time it’s in the service shop for repowering? Check the state of the upholstery, radios, bilge pumps, wiring, batteries, glasswork, trailer, etc.
Mike advises boaters to “Look for quality options that save money over the long run. More often than not, what seem like cheap DYI internet deals go horribly wrong and not only cost more in the end, but they also could make you lose valuable time on the water with family and friends. This goes back to why it is very important to work with a trusted dealer who has the training to deliver a safe, durable, and proper repower.”
Your dealer is also the best person to consult with regarding proper engine operation, service needs, and valuable support throughout the boat ownership experience.