How to save money on your boat service!

How to save money or your next boat service


Many ask why does it cost so much to get my boat serviced or repaired. We thought we could shed some light on this for you but want to share some tips as to how to save money when getting service done.

First, make sure when you bring your boat for service that the battery is charged, there is fuel in the tank, keys are in the ignition or in the boat and remove all your gear out of the cockpit area. When the Technician starts on your boat these kinds of things slow them down and therefore cost you money. Having the keys available saves the time of having to source out a shop key or by-pass the ignition  switch to allow the work to begin, having to move life jackets, fishing gear, lawn chairs etc. to get in the boat also burns up time, this time you are paying for. Of course if you bring in your boat for a battery problem, broken ignition key then this is irrelevant but most repairs are not focused on these items. No fuel in the boat causes you to have to pay for the time to add fuel and the surcharge on the fuel added.

Your cover. Boats have many different types of covers, some tie on, snap on, or clip. Covers that have many knots and very creative tie jobs, these take time to undo and again you’re paying for it.

Marine engines are not unlike your vehicle, they have many complex systems that may need special tools and diagnostic equipment, that all costs a pile of money for the facility not to mention the training to go along with them so the tech can use them. Manufacturers offer training but they don’t offer it for free to the dealer and some even charge a monthly subscription fee to use  their software  ( does not make sense to us either) these kinds of things get considered when choosing the hourly labor rate charge. Boats unlike vehicles don’t move themselves in and out of the shop so again it’s time to tow them around with equipment needed. Marine dealers buy time from their technicians either in wage or flat rate then add overheads and these types of items and you get the labor rate charge.

Best time to get repairs is when you’re not using your boat, dealers often offer a reduction in labor charge in the off season so if you can postpone a fix or need service the fall/winter time is the best. Towing the boat in the winter may be unacceptable to you as storage has gotten full of snow or in many cases no access to some storage facilities in the winter will prevent this, check with the dealer as you may be able to get storage from the dealer for that winter. Often payment plans can be done over the off season to spread out the fees, paying monthly for repairs over the winter might help affordability.

When the boat is down in the season, it’s a big deal, we understand this fully! We have a short window to use our toys and are not happy when they don’t work. Spring & Summer repairs will happen but usually good service in the fall and a thorough spring run up can prevent this. Nothing is worse than heading out to the lake with your family and friends to find out the boat won’t start or something is wrong. Now the trip is shot and the embarrassment that may come with it in front of your friends may be worse than the loss of use itself, we get this, we can fix your problem but can’t get that time back.

Marine technicians are few in our country as people choose other careers so the wait time to get repairs can be long, add the fact that unlike automotive suppliers, parts are not as easy and fast to get and as many of us may have a 30 year old or older boat that’s like new, parts for that ride may not be as available or at all anymore. This slows the process down and burns up time finding the parts to get the job done.

In summary, the best way to beat the high cost of boat repairs is regular service and upkeep and when you do need service and repair, make sure your tarp is not “knitted” on to your boat and your battery is charged and keys and fuel are in it. Ask for any specials or get on the list for specials as they come out, no point missing out on the deal if you did not know about it. Don’t be shy to see if the service department can give you a break by using good parts alternatives such as used or aftermarket.


If you’re unsure if you want to bring in your boat for regular service or you like to do it yourself, please ask for advice about options for parts and maintenance items or some hints as to how to do the job, we are here to help