What to Ask About the Motor Buying Your First Boat on a Budget: PART IV

What questions to ask about a motor before you buy a boat

This is Part IV in our guide to Buying a Boat on a Budget. In Part I we talked about size and cost when buying. In Part II we covered hull condition and wear and tear.  In Part III is was about the trailer.

In this Part we are going to talk about the Motor specifically.  There are some key aspects I forgot to cover and they are very important before you load up with cash in hand and go look at the boat.

I know this has been a detailed series but if I don’t cover it and look out for you, then you are going to get burned and lose thousands of dollars and then I will be a failure. Failure is not an option so bare with me and read this part about your boat motor. And most of all heed my warnings

What to Ask The Seller About the Motor

Ask the seller if there are there any issues with the engine?

Does it need a tune up or does it need the carb rebuilt is it hard starting is there poor performance?

And the most important is there any milk shake in the oil?

Milk shake, what is Milk shake you ask?

I thought that was a drink?

Milk shake is the byproduct of water entering the engine block.

From either a bad head gasket or by not having the engine winterized. What happens is the water is not drained from the block and manifolds and freezes and expands in the block and manifolds and cracks the block, heads and exhaust manifolds from the ice expanding.

Also not properly flushing salt water out of your engine after use will also eat the inside of the block and heads. Especially on an aluminum block and heads. Not too many inboard engines are aluminum blocks so we won’t go into it that far but

I want to bring it up to your attention.

Salt is very corrosive and will eat the inside of an engine block and heads and manifolds in a very short time. When cracks develop in the block and heads and you start the engine the water pump pumps up the water to the engine from the lake into the thermostat housing then the thermostat opens up when the engine gets to running temp and allows the fresh water to go into the block and heads and manifolds.

This is why we always recommending using our De-Salt to remove Salt from your Boat

If there are cracks, the water will leak out the cracks internally and fill the engine crank case up with water this mixes with the engine oil and separates and turns milky. This is why they call it milk shake.

If you have milk shake in the oil then you are going to have to replace the engine. It’s toast. At this point you need to tell the seller you are no longer interested in the boat and thank him for his time. There is no need to go out and look at the boat.

It’s not cost effective to buy it unless you can buy it dirt cheap and do all the work yourself.

Just walk away...

Hydrolocking or Hydrostatic Lock

While we are on cracked blocks and heads and cracked exhaust manifolds we need to go over hydro locking. What is hydro locking you ask?

In order to answer that question we need to go through the cooling process on the exhaust manifolds.

When the water is circulating through the engine it also circulates through the manifolds there is an internal wall on the manifolds and external being the outside of the manifold.

This passage allows water to circulate through the manifolds to cool them. Without this process the manifolds would get red hot and cause a fire inside the engine compartment and we don’t want that.

If water is left in the manifolds and it freezes up, the expansion of the ice inside the cooling passages causes the inner and outer walls to crack.

When you fire up the engine and are under way, the water leaks out the cracks internally into the exhaust valve when it opens up to expel the gases out of the combustion chamber and pours water into the cylinder while the engine is running in turn, this fills the cylinder up with water and when both valves close on the compression cycle the water hits the valves as the piston comes up and locks up the engine.

This will cause severe engine damage bent connecting rods etc and engine is junk and will have to be replaced.

I can’t over emphasis the importance of winterizing your boat before winter hits. Flushing your engine right after a trip to the Ocean will save you $1000s in repair bills and prolong the life of your engine and your boat.

Show Me Your Boats Paper Work Please

The most important thing I forgot to mention before you load up and go out to look at the boat. 


I cannot over empathize the importance of paper work. Each state has different guidelines regarding titles on boats and trailers and properly registering them.

Some states don’t require licensing for trailers or titles under certain sizes or any at all. But some states do. My state, Nevada does require titles on trailers.

If you go to another state that doesn’t require titles nor registration for boats you have to stop by DMV here in Nevada and they will give you the paper work for a bill of sale for the owner of the boat .

You go there and you have to take the trailer down to their DMV have it inspected and a registration and plates issued for the seller of the boat.

When you get back to Nevada you have to take the trailer down and have it inspected if there is no vin on the trailer the state will issue you a state issued vin number and then you take the paper work in into DMV office and they will issue plates and registration for the trailer and in about a month you will receive a Nevada Title for the trailer.

The boat is covered under Nevada Fish and Game. Again you have to have either the title issued for the boat from the state you brought it from in the sellers name or you have to have current registration for the boat in the sellers name and a bill of sale.

You bring the boat to N.D.O.W and they do an inspection of the boat and verify the hull number matches the title or registration, Once they do the inspection and it passes they will issue you a with a hull number issued by the state for your registration.

You apply the numbered stickers on the side of the bow and the new registration sticker and you are good to go. You will receive your title from them in about a month. This is just Nevada you need to go to your local DMV and get the regs on registration for the boat and trailer. Lots of states DMV handle’s both.

So ask the seller if he has any paper work on the boat or trailer?

If he says no and is not willing to get any paper work or work with you. Then you need to inform him that you will not buy his boat without them and thank him for his time.

Beware of the Missing Boat Title

There is also something I need to cover here and it’s very important .This happens all the time with cars, boats and travel trailers. If you see an ad the seller says I'm working on paper work for the title or "I got the title coming after you buy the boat. I will send you the title in a month when I get it !"



Once the seller has your money and you leave the yard that is it he, is done with you. This is the oldest story in the book you will be out thousands of dollars and have a boat and trailer you cannot put in the water.

I see these ads all the time working on the title. I will have a title in a week or lost title. I always leave a message. Well if you have a lost title go to DMV and get a duplicate in my state its only $25.00 or if you are waiting for a title why don’t you wait until you have it then try and sell your boat or car?

They never reply because it’s all BULL! THERE IS NOT TITLE!

So people do your home work be informed and educated yourself on paper work take notes and be prepared. Don’t get burned! Paper work, Paper work Paper work! I can’t say it enough cover your butt!


It’s a lie until proven otherwise.

Next chapter we will finally be there and inspect and lake or ocean test the boat but in the meantime check out our boat cleaning products.

Roger Hockemier