8 May

Boat Gauges: What You Need to Know

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

Gauges are an important feature of all waterborne vessels, including boats, ships, hovercraft and submarines. Boat gauges, or marine gauges, measure critical engineering parameters, such as clearance, depth and diameter, among others. They provide vital information about a machinery’s working condition.

Gauges can be categorized as follows:

  • Ammeter Gauges – record the output charge from a boat’s alternator
  • Battery Condition Gauges – return Empty of Full battery readings
  • Fuel Level Gauges – measure fuel tank level by assessing the resistance in the tank and converting the result to an empty or full level
  • Hourmeter Gauges – record the boat’s engine running time
  • Multifunction Gauges – Warning Gauges that provide visual warnings to indicate a temperature increase or low oil reservoir, for example
  • Oil Pressure Gauges – monitor oil pressure in the engine and transmission
  • Speedometers – various options available to record the boat’s speed
  • Tachometers – one of, if not, the most important gauge on a boat; record the boat’s engine revolutions depending on application
  • Trim Gauges – display the trim/tilt angle of the outdrive unit or the outboard motor
  • Voltmeters – assess electrical potential difference by comparing two points of an electric circuit
  • Water Pressure Gauges – provide information to ensure adequate cooling water in the powerhead
  • Water Temperature Gauges – measure the engine coolant water temperature

There are also the Combination Gauges, which can measure fuel level, oil pressure, water temperature and voltage using resistance senders. These are the recommended gauges for saving space on the dashboard.

Gauges should be included in the boat maintenance checklist. The easiest way to keep them in proper working condition is to keep them always clean. However, avoid using anything that contain harsh chemicals. Use of hose is also not advised. Instead, you can make use of soft microfiber cloth or sponge and dip it into a mild dish detergent.

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