Outboard vs Inboard

Outboard vs. Inboard

by Conrad & Judy Kreuter

Q: Dear Boat Talk: The new boat I have been looking at is offered in outboard and I/O versions. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? JZ, Hicksville NY

A: Dear JZ: The outboard engine is a self-contained unit mounted on the transom of your boat. Because of it’s easy installation and removal it is often preferred by boaters who wish to keep the hull but repower using the latest technology.

Outboard motors can be found in an assortment of styles. While there are still many carburetor two stroke motors available, the new technology (because of EPA legislation) is moving toward electronic fuel injected motors and four stroke engines.

I/O engines have always been four stroke engines. Within the last few years, they have become available with electronic fuel injection.

Because I/O engines are an integral part of the boat they will usually take up more cockpit space than the outboard. Cosmetically they are out of sight and enclosed in an acoustically padded engine box which reduces the operating sounds.

Initially the I/O’s are less expensive than outboards. However the cost of repowering may be higher due to additional labor costs required when installing a different horsepower engine.

Routine maintenance is generally less expensive for the outboard motor than the I/O. This is because there are more tune-up parts required for the I/O. If a large horsepower I/O engine is shoe-horned into a boat, gaining access to perform routine maintenance may be difficult and more costly as well.

If you are shopping late in the season and don’t want to wait for your boat to be manufactured, an outboard style boat can be powered with any brand of motor you prefer. Your choice with the I/O will be limited to whatever the dealer has in stock.