Engine Check List - Pre Passage.

Posted on 30/09/2019 by John Martin

Engine Check List - Pre Passage.

Marine Engine Pre Passage Check.

To ensure a safe voyage and prevent problems before they arise it’s important to check your marine engine before leaving port. Consider this a minimum check, particularly if you’re heading off on an Ocean Passage.


Who knows how much motoring you’ll do on a long passage, if it’s been more than 150 hours since your last service consider another before departure. During your service you’ll likely check most of the following.

  • Water: Check water level in remote tank if you have one or remove cap on water tank and feel inside for water/coolant. Top up with distilled water and antifreeze, or your engine manufactures recommended additive, if necessary. 
  • Check oil level - Engine: remove oil dip-stick and wipe clean. Re-insert and pull out to ensure that oil is at the correct level. Smell the oil – if there’s any hint of fuel in the oil, involve a mechanic. Rub a sample between your fingers, it should feel smooth with not rough.
  • Oil in gearbox: note that this might need to be done after the engine has been run for a few minutes and then shut down. Check your manual. Replace if required. Check if your gearbox has a filter, replace if required.
  • Fuel Filter - Check for water in filter bowl. Check age of filter. To replace filter, check fuel supply valve is in the off position before removal, particularly if the engine is below the level of the fuel tank.
  • Heat exchanger - Check for leaks and corrosion, reseal if required.
  • Exhaust - Check water lock for leaks, check exhaust elbow is not blocked. 
  • Belt: check that the belt(s) around the engine are firm. (Look for excessive belt dust).
  • Battery: look at the batteries and ensure the connections are solid and there’s no corrosion. Check the charge level. If flooded lead acid, check level and top up with distilled water if needed. Check there is no distortion of the battery casing. Check the batteries are properly held down.
  • Leaks: look around the area below the engine. Ensure there are no liquids such as water, oil or fuel in the bilge. Always keep the engine bed clean so leaks show up easily. Use an oil mat under the sump if needed.
  • Electricity: make sure all the wires are secure and there are no loose connections.
  • Strainers: check the sea strainer or strainers. Ensure they’re free from debris. Close through hull before removing the lid.
  • Seacocks: make sure that your engine seacocks are open.
  • Fuel: check that you have adequate fuel for your travels.
  • Check all through hulls, ensure levers are easy to close.
  • Check engine mounts are secure.
  • Check drive train from gearbox through;- Flexible coupling, thrust plate and CV's if fitted, shaft seal and if you want to get wet, the propellor nut and any shaft or propellor anode.
  • Log: enter your engine hours and update maintenance logs.