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How Salt Affects Boat Engines and What You Can Do to Protect Yours

Last updated 5 years ago

Taking your boat for a ride out on the ocean can be a lot of fun. But after each sea outing, you should always perform basic maintenance on your boat’s engine to keep it running at peak performance. Salt water can be hard on a boat’s engine and can cause it to stop functioning properly, which is something that no boat owner wants to deal with. To learn more about salt and its effects on boat engines, keep on reading. For engine repairs, stop by your local boat service facility.

Salt and Rust

The main reason why salt is bad for a boat’s engine is that salt aids in corrosion, or rusting. Rust forms when metals are exposed to environments that are typically wet and contain a lot of oxygen. When a boat goes into the ocean, its engine comes into contact with oxygen-rich water and salt; the oxygen causes rust to develop and the salt accelerates the rate of corrosion. This process can continue even after the boat is removed from the ocean water.


A number of issues ordinarily occur after salt begins rusting a boat engine. The engine may start running poorly and overheat due to an increase in friction. Since corrosion breaks metal down, various parts of the engine can also disintegrate. While many of these negative effects can be halted if the corrosion is addressed in time, an engine severely damaged by corrosion will have to be replaced.

Preventative Treatments

The best way to avoid engine problems caused by corrosion is to stop them before they start. Along with replacing your zinc anodes regularly, you should also do a complete engine flush each time your boat’s engine is exposed to ocean water. To do an engine flush, simply place a motor flusher over the engine’s left and right air intakes. Afterwards, connect a garden hose to the flusher, turn the engine on, and let the water run through the engine for five to ten minutes.

To learn more about caring for your boat, stop by Moose Landing Marina. We specialize in boat maintenance and sales. Call us today at (207) 693-6264.



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