How to Buy a Boat Engine on eBay

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How to Buy a Boat Engine on eBay

A boat's engine is one of its more important components. It provides the power needed to propel a boat, and a good engine can enhance a boater's experience. Whether fishing in the Irish Sea, water skiing in the Lake District, or just cruising a body of water, having the right engine can make a big difference. Finding the right boat engine can be challenging, though.

eBay is a good source from which one can buy a boat engine. The site has a broad selection of engines, and shoppers can find good bargains there. It is possible to buy a boat engine from a local seller listed on eBay, reducing shipping time and cost. While eBay is a good source for boat engines, buying one online requires consumers to be informed. Consumers can increase their chances of successful shopping for boat engines on eBay by properly educating themselves beforehand. Buyers should know a few basic points about boat engines and consider a couple of important factors regarding boat engine ownership.

Learning Boat Engine Basics

Consumers are more likely to be successful shopping for boat engines on eBay if they know a few basic points about boat engines. Learning boat engine basics, such as the options for engine types, fuel, fuel delivery systems, and power cycles, is therefore an important step to take before trying to use eBay to buy a boat engine.

Engine Type

The two basic types of engines are outboard and inboard. The former type is more common, but each type has its advantages and drawbacks. Determining which of these engine types a customer prefers is the first step in the buying process.

Outboard Engine

An outboard engine sits on the outside of the boat where it is clearly visible. A boat owner mounts this engine on the stern of a boat so that it propels the boat from behind. These engines are suitable for use in both freshwater and the sea. The important peripheral parts of an outboard engine are the pull cord, the stop switch, the tiller arm, the water intake, the skeg, and the propeller. The operator uses the pull cord to start the engine and the stop switch to turn it off. The tiller arm helps the operator steer the boat by changing the engine orientation. The water intake draws water to cool the engine. The skeg is a finned mount for the propeller, which rapidly rotates to propel the boat through water. The engine is the power source for the propeller.

Inboard Engine

An inboard engine sits inside the hull of a boat. It has a driveshaft running along the inside of the boat's bottom to a propeller outside the boat. Whereas an outboard engine has a steering device built into the unit, a boat with an inboard engine has a separate rudder for steering. Inboard engines have a transmission that delivers power from the engine to the propellers, and they also have a gearbox that enables operators to put the boat in forward or reverse. Outboard motors can easily release their exhaust since they are outside of the boat, but inboard motors are fitted with an exhaust system that sends exhaust out through the stern. Because they sit inside of a boat's hull instead of on the stern, inboard motors are ideal for boats towing water-skiers and wakeboarders who enter and exit the boat off the back.

Fuel Options

An individual who is interested in buying a boat engine on eBay should also decide between gas-powered or diesel-powered engines. Each has its benefits and drawbacks.


Gas-powered engines tend to have a lower upfront cost than diesel-powered engines do. They also run quieter, and their fumes are less noxious-smelling. Gas-powered engines do tend to provide less power than diesel-powered ones do. Furthermore, the ethanol in gas may react with the resin of fiberglass fuel tanks to create a sludge that can damage engines. Consumers should make sure that their fuel tanks are unlikely to react with the ethanol in gasoline if they plan to purchase gas-powered boat engines.


Diesel-powered engines may produce more noise and stronger-smelling fumes than gas-powered engines do, but they also provide more power. This makes diesel-powered engines better-suited for larger boats. Diesel engines also tend to last longer than gas-powered engines, thereby cancelling out the higher upfront cost. Diesel fuel also leads to fewer maintenance issues than gas does. Still, consumers with smaller boats that they use seasonally may be more inclined to purchase gas-powered boat engines.

Fuel Delivery System

A consumer who is interested in buying a boat engine on eBay should also decide on the preferred type of fuel delivery system. The table below lists the three options and the benefits of each.

System Type



Direct Fuel Injection

Jets directly inject fuel into engine's cylinders

good fuel economy; low emissions; good response

Electronic Fuel Injection

Has an electronic control unit to determine amounts of fuel and air to deliver

ideal air:fuel ratio; good fuel economy; low emissions


Fuel arm delivers fuel based on airflow into carburettor; unit delivers mixture to engine

low cost; simple design; easy to replace

Engines initially used carburetted fuel-delivery systems, so this system has been around longer than the other two types. Engines manufactured today tend to feature fuel injection systems. The electronic control unit on an electronic fuel injection system creates ideal ratios for fuel/air mixtures based on the boat engine's quickly-changing needs during use.

Two-Stroke Versus Four-Stroke

The power cycle of a boat engine's cylinders is another important feature. This is the movement of the engine-driven pistons to generate energy that the boat engine sends to the propeller. Boat engines typically have either two-stroke or four-stroke cylinders. The former completes its cycle with one upstroke and one downstroke. The upstroke intakes the air/fuel mixture and compresses it, and the downstroke generates power and expels combustion byproduct fumes. A four-stroke cylinder has an intake stroke, a compression stroke, a power stroke, and an exhaust stroke.

Two-stroke engines tend be lighter and less expensive than four-stroke engines. However, many manufacturers are trending towards four-stroke engines because of their lower emissions and generally better fuel economy. Two-stroke direct injection boat engines are the exception, as they do have relatively low emissions and good fuel economy.

Other Considerations in Buying a Boat Engine

A good understanding of the basic principles and features of boat engines should prepare consumers to purchase boat engines on eBay. Before searching the site, consumers should make a few other important considerations. These include the size of the boat the engine is to power and the maintenance requirements of boat engines in general.

Boat Size

The size of the boat that an engine is to power is an important aspect of buying the right boat engine. Consumers should learn what their boats' unladen weights are, and they should estimate how much their boats weigh with passengers, fuel, and gear. Consumers can also consult the owner's manuals for their boats to find out the recommended maximum horsepower so that the boat engine can match it. An engine with too little horsepower can cause the boat to underperform and the engine to overwork. This can lead to problems with the engine. On the other hand, too much horsepower can cause difficulty in operating the boat.


Consumers looking to purchase boat engines should be prepared to do routine maintenance on the engines. Individuals planning to use their boats in seawater should occasionally flush their engines with fresh water. Salt build-up can lead to corrosion, so neglecting to flush the engine can lead to problems later on. It is also recommended to treat a boat engine with a corrosion guard soon after purchasing it. This helps prevent corrosion on the engine. Boat owners should also apply fogging oil to the engine's cylinders to prevent rust during winter storage.

Using eBay to Buy a Boat Engine

eBay has a large selection of boat engines available, and it is easy to search the site to buy the boat engine that you are looking for. Successfully buying a boat engine on eBay also involves choosing the right sellers.

Searching for a Boat Engine

You can perform a search from an eBay page by using the search bar on the page. Enter a descriptive term for the boat engine you are looking for, such as "4 hp outboard engine", into the search bar. When the results appear, select the Boats Parts & Accessories category and then the Boat Engines & Motors subcategory. This should list the relevant outboard engines for sale on eBay.

Choosing Sellers

If you see an appealing listing, you should click on the seller's eBay username to see feedback the seller has received from other customers. This is an accumulation of the ratings and comments that past buyers have left for the seller, and it helps you gauge whether or not you are likely to be satisfied purchasing a boat engine from that seller.

You may also want to consider purchasing your boat engine from a local seller listed on eBay. To see sellers near you, specify the distance from your postcode within which sellers should be located. The closer the seller is to you, the less shipping is likely to cost.


eBay is a good source from which to buy a boat engine, but it helps to do some homework before shopping on the site. Individuals looking for boat engines on eBay should be well-informed about these components. This involves learning about the types of fuel options, fuel-delivery systems, and power cycles. Consumers can sort out their preferences by knowing the benefits and drawbacks of each. Boat engine buyers are also well advised to know how boat size influences the power of the engines they should purchase. Furthermore, they should be aware of the regular maintenance they should perform on the engines they buy.

The final aspect of successfully buying a boat engine on eBay is knowing how to utilise the website. Buyers should have a good grasp of how to perform a search and how to choose sellers. Using the right search terms enables consumers to find their preferred boat engines more efficiently, evaluating sellers helps them find reputable ones, and buying from local sellers helps consumers save money. eBay is a good place to shop for boat engines, and a little knowledge goes a long way to successful transactions on this website.

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