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Engine Hours – What’s a Good Number?

As a Yacht Broker, I get asked frequently, how many hours are on the boat? And based upon an arbitrary ceiling, we get one of the following responses:


Would this be considered high hours?

1. That’s a ton of hours!

2. Wow – that’s really low!


So, what’s the magic number? 1000 for gas engines? 2500 for diesel?


I was driving my 2017 pickup today with 21360 miles on it, and after a recent service, they exposed a digital dashboard that gave me my engine hours. I had a total of 627 hours on my truck, with 595 of it driving and 32 at idle.


Hours Chart

627 hours! On a boat, that would be considered a decent number to most audiences.

I am going to average out the running hours of my engine to mileage for the sake of developing a chart and use the values of 22,000 miles to 600 hours of run time. This will “normalize” the numbers a bit for an apples to apples comparison.


Each vehicle will be different, but after research, this seems to be the average of most vehicles.

Let’s put this in context. If you were shopping for a car by modern standards, and you found a 15-year-old car with 50,000 miles on it, you’d say it’s hardly used. So why is a boat with gas motors given the flag of death with 1400 hours on her? In fact, it may actually be easier on the motors as we don’t tend to run our boats as hard or varied as we do our cars. Diesel engines even have more longevity as there is not the internal combustion components that will break things down as easily. I’ve seen diesel engines run for 1,000,000 miles – this would translate to 167,000 hours. This is a bit of an aberration for an example, but I think you get the point.


My recommendation is not place the Scarlet Letter of “high hours” and educate our boating community. It really comes to maintenance and age. (I could say that I have high hours on me, or at least it feels that way!) Look at age of the engines, maintenance records, and oil changes. Get a mechanical survey, and send out the oil samples. Look at the wear and care of those engines.


It’s time to make our community more educated.

They might be looking at a great deal with 30,000 miles on her.

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