How to Maintain Rental Boats in Excellent Condition

Boats are expensive, so they need proper care, especially when used in the rental business. Timely maintenance will not only extend their service life but also keep them in pristine condition to minimize customer complaints.

For example, if a boat breaks down away from a shore, customers may not be happy as it would ruin their leisure. As a result, your business gets a bad reputation. According to statistics, 50% of calls to CoastGuard are made seeking assistance with boat breakdowns.

That being said, let’s focus on the primary steps to maintain rental boats.

man spraying fresh water to a boat

1. Wash Your Boat Regularly with Fresh Water.

Experts recommend cleaning the boats occasionally to remove the salt buildup, which can lead to corrosion. You may use all-purpose cleaning solutions or particular brands like DeSalt and rinse it off the chemicals with fresh water.

Boat with corroded terminals

2. Prevent Marine Battery from Corrosion.

The corrosions are common in marine environments due to the humid weather. One of the victims is the boat batteries. According to statistics, one-third of total CoastGuard responses were related to dead batteries. To prevent boat batteries from corroding, take the following steps:

  • Make the connections tighter. Loose terminals are the number one reasons that batteries get corrosion.
  • Clean the terminals with wire brushes regularly to remove the debris and corrosion buildup and maintain the batteries’ good health.
  • Spray anti-corrosion solutions to terminals to create a barrier layer to prevent corrosion.
  • Use chargers recommended by manufacturers. Cheap chargers may cause harm to batteries by causing short circuits and overcharging issues.
  • Protect the batteries against the water. You can use exceptional water-proof cases and covers to protect the batteries in the lakes and oceans.
  • Store the batteries in dry, cool, and well-ventilated places at the end of the season.
a man changing the boat oil

3. Check the oil regularly. 

Yes, boat engines require as much care as car engines do. That means you need to check the oil levels and its color regularly. Low oil and dark color indicate it is time to change the oil. If the oil level drops more frequently than usual, you may need to get the outboard engine serviced.

Quick note: use only marine engine oils for your boats because regular motor oils do not have enough anti-corrosive additives. Marine oils are designated to withstand the harshest saltwater environment.

damaged hose on a boat engine

4. Do a visual test to replace corroded parts. 

Boat experts recommend visually inspecting leaks, broken parts, or wiring corrosion. For example, hoses that connect different parts of the motor get damaged by saltwater over time, so you need to ensure the hoses are intact. If you detect any issues, address them before they lead to more significant problems.

boat propeller tangled with fishing line

5. Inspect the propeller to ensure the rope or fishing line is not wrapped around.

You never know what the boats will encounter in the sea, and the propellers are the part that grabs things from the ocean and gets tangled up. For example, fishing lines, ropes, plastic, and other garbage can wrap around a propeller. These situations require quicker action because when the propeller functions under stress, it puts pressure on the engine, causing many costly issues.

a man washing a boat hull

6. Clean the hull for smother ride and stop marine pests.

You probably know that smoother surfaces slide better in the water. Any algae or mold growth on the dull can drag the speed of a boat and take away the smoothness from the boat ride. Statistics show that dirty hulls can increase total costs by about 30%. Also, molds and algae invite unwelcome pests onto the board, causing deterioration in the boat’s parts. The best way to avoid such problems is to take out the boat from the water, wash it off with a bucket or low-power hose to remove buildups, spray special hull cleaner as instructed on the label, and leave it until it loosens the molds and algae, and deep clean the whole dull with a soft bristle brush. Finish the cleaning by rinsing with fresh water and using a sponge soaked to remove the water and chemical residues. Clean boats also help to attract more customers.

a man changing a boat engine air filter

7. Change Air Filters and make sure the throttle body regulates the air properly.

The marine environment usually has minimal dust to clog up the boat’s air filters. But debris, mud, and dust carried with customers’ shoes can still clog up the air filters. Its inspection is relatively easy. Depending on the engine brand, you can remove the outer cover of the motor and pull out the air filter to inspect.

If everything is fine with the air filter, you can visually inspect the whole throttle body and the hoses that connect to it. In some cases, rusty clamps and cracked-up air rubber hoses leak air or allow the outside air to come inside the engine, causing the rpm to drop or shut down the engine as the air system does not correctly regulate the incoming air.

a man fixing a boat dents

8. Check for leaks and fix the scratches and dents while they are small. 

Every big problem starts with a small one. For example, if a boat has a small leak, it is more likely to get bigger. The same things can happen with minor dents and scratches. If you do not fix those damages quickly, they can get bigger until they cost you a new boat. The best remedy to avoid such negative instances, check the inside and outside of the boat for possible damages. This pattern would allow you to maintain your rental boats promptly and have renters pay for the damages if those happened while it was under their possession.

a small boat hit a rock near shoreline

9. Make sure renters know how to operate boats. 

Trusting your expensive boat to someone who does not know how to operate a boat adequately will be a recipe for disaster. It does not matter how well you maintain your boats; inexperienced boat renters will ruin your boat. So, to avoid such problems, you can do the following three things:

  • – Give special boat operation instructions to all renters
  • – Require renters to have at least some level of knowledge about the boats
  • – Have them sign liability and damage waiver forms to make them responsible for their mistakes.
a woman waxing boat hull

10. Wax the hull to avoid fiberglass oxidization. 

Most modern boats have fiberglass dulls, prone to oxidization and turning chalky over time. So, the manufacturers recommend waxing the hull to avoid saltwater and other weathering damages. Waxing also keeps the hulls shiny and attractive and protects the original gel coating. Not all waxes will be suitable for boat maintenance. Use marine waxes that can withstand harsh sun rays, saltwater, molds & algae. When properly waxed hulls, they make consequent cleaning easier and protect them from sticky grimes because the waxed layer is an extra barrier.

a black woman lubricating a boat engine

11. Lubricate the parts to reduce friction and wear. 

Boats that are constantly exposed to water collect corrosion and rust pretty quickly, so you need to lubricate the parts consistently to keep their parts functioning correctly. We all know rust and corrosion makes the joints get stuck. So, to avoid that, you need to use marine lubricants suitable for saltwater and humid environments.

A woman spraying sun protector to a boat's leather seats

12. Use UV inhibitors to protect the boat seats from the sun.

The Interior of the boat matters as much as it is exterior. So, leather seats need to be cleaned to protect against molds and mildew, disinfected to protect future renters from germs and bacteria, and finished with UV inhibitors to protect the leather seats from cracks and discoloration.

chipped boat propeller

13. Repair the chipped or damaged propeller. 

If you notice the propeller hit something and got chipped or damaged, you must fix it as soon as possible because a damaged propeller puts pressure on the outboard engine and burns fuel inefficiently. Even if the propeller seems ok on the visual inspection, you must ensure it is tight, and the shafts have enough grease.

water leak in a boat

14. Check the bilge pump.

A bilge pump is an important part of the boats. Without it, boats will be filled with water and sink. You may wonder how the earth the water can get to the bilge, the bottom part of the hull. There are several possible causes, some of which are rainwater, leakage, accumulation of water from washing, etc. Concisely, the bilge pump removes the water from the bottom of the hull to avoid sinking and other adverse effects of water leakage. Some boat owners even install two pumps to travel far from shore. That is something you may consider as well. 

a computer displaying a boat and calendar

15. Schedule timely maintenance work.

Changing oils, filters, greasing joints, and other maintenance needs to be scheduled systematically. Those actions protect the outboard engine from potential wear and extend its operational life. Use oils recommended by boat manufacturers, as each motor has a specific oil requirement. You may read it in the booklet that comes with a boat. If you have many boats in your inventory, tracking which boat is due for maintenance would be harder. Luckily, when you use Reservety’s Boat Rental Software, you can schedule the maintenance, which will send automated notifications when it is time. 

a boat standing in a repair shop

16. Let the professional handle the repairs.

Repairs are often needed in the boat rental business because boats are always on the move. The worst thing you can do to your boat is to try to fix your boat with adequate knowledge. If you do, you will spend more money trying to save some. We recommend getting the repairs done by professionals as they have a rich experience. For example, if a boat keeps breaking down, you may fix the symptom, not the cause. On the other hand, professionals are good at tracking down the root causes of the problem.

a man with a checklist standing next to a boat

17. Create a checklist to perform tests before and after an outing.

This method ensures that your customers are renting a safe boat and protects you from repair damages caused by customers. A checklist is a systematic way of tracking the condition of a boat, so create one to catch the damages or faulty parts before they can lead to more significant problems.

a boat covered with snow

18. Winterize boats properly.

It is essential to maintain your boats during the off-season as well. Because inactivity can also cause a wide range of issues. Here are the basic steps on how to winterize your rental boats:

–      Change oil before storage. Because acids present in the used oil can damage the engine parts if the boat stays inactive.

–      Remove the water from the engine. If the engine or other components hold water during cold winters, they may crack up as ice expands the parts.

–      Fog your engine. This method protects the engine from moisture and prevents them from collecting rust while inactive. There are particular coating solutions you may spray.

–      Add fuel stabilizer. Some boat experts recommend filling the tanks with fuel and adding a stabilizer to prevent fuel deterioration.

–      Cleaning and storing in a safe place. Cleaning is a must before the long storage because dirt, debris, and other things that stick to the boat can cause problems if not cleaned quickly, especially if the boat is about to sit for a prolonged period in a humid environment.

a customer signing a waiver form next to a boat

19. Have your customers sign waivers. 

One way to preserve the rental boats in good condition is to hold renters responsible for their damages. Waivers will protect you from losses and damage-related costs and increase the alertness and attention of your customers so they won’t use the boats recklessly. When you use Reservety, you can let customers sign waivers electronically during the online booking. 

a woman covering a boat

20. Use high-quality boat covers.

Leaving your boat under the sun and storm is the worst enemy for boats’ upholstery and canvas components. Use high-quality covers that can withstand harsh sun and rain to protect those and other plastic and electronic parts on board.  


We hope this article helped you to have some knowledge on maintaining your boats in good condition. You may have known some of these tips already, but it would make a real difference if you followed all those steps. Because doing one and ignoring others nullifies the benefits of others.

If you want to track your inventory usage, maintenance records and schedule regular checkups, Reservety makes it super convenient. Currently, it offers 14-day risk-free trials. You can sign up here without any long-term obligations or credit card.

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