Can You Run Your Outboard With Cover On?

Outboard motors often come with a protective cowling that protects the engine and gives it some flair. The cowls, or covers, are also vented and easy to remove. So can you run an outboard with the cover on it?

While covers envelop the top portion of the outboard, they are often ported. The ports allow extra airflow to enter the engine compartment and cool it down. Most outboards are air-cooled, and when the boat moves, the wind will keep the engine from getting too hot.

Working with engines can be overwhelming for those who are uncomfortable. Installing and removing something like an outboard cover could spread enough anxiety and keep them from enjoying the water. But, don’t give up on your dream so easily! Read on and learn all you need to know about running your outboard with a cover on it. 

What Happens If You Put Too Much Oil In An Outboard Motor

Benefits To An Outboard Motor Cover

Having an outboard cover is not just stylish but has some great benefits that could help to extend the life of your engine. Many benefits aren’t visible from the outside that can make or break your outboard.

A few benefits of an outboard motor cover are:

  • Theft – One of the worst things about an outboard is how easy it can be to steal. They are light, and all look the same. This gives thieves an upper hand when selling as it could have come from anywhere, and without checking serial numbers, there is no way to prove the outboard is stolen. Covers make the outboard unique and less likely to be taken.
  • Accidents – Another great thing that outboard covers protect against is accidents. We don’t just mean the vehicle-on-vehicle violence seen in boat ramps across the country, but protection from all kinds of impact.
  • Weather – The weather is another obstacle that your outboard cover protects you from. The high temps in the spring and summer can be brutal on mechanical pieces, while winter could be a nightmare for your hoses and wiring. An outboard cover provides a bit of protection year-round to keep the engine safe.

Using an outboard cover is a proven way to keep your engine protected from the elements and water. They are easy to install and add a bit of color to your engine. They are great for preserving the outboard and even could prevent theft.

Do You Need a Primer Bulb on Your Outboard?

Are Outboard Motor Covers Worth Buying?

Yes! An outboard motor cover isn’t just a striking piece for your boat; they provide all kinds of protections for your craft that you might not have known about. They are also very affordable and come in so many colors and patterns that make your head spin.

Installing Outboard Covers: How Hard Is It?

Installing an outboard cover is an easy job that anyone can tackle. The covers are often designed to fit over the exposed part of the engine like a sock or glove. It could be frustrating, but by following a few steps, you will have it on in no time!

The steps to install an outboard cover on your boat engine are:

  • Make it Clean – Do a comprehensive cleaning of the exposed areas of your engine before installation. Getting everything clean adds a layer of protection between the boat and the cover. This means that there will be fewer bug husks and debris on the surface of the outboard.
  • Go Back to Front – Open your shiny new outboard cover and place it by the outboard from behind. Then, stretch it over the top of the outboard housing with the opening moving forward. It is just like a sock and should go snugly around the engine.
  • Secure the Cover – Some covers could have a set of latches or a bit of elastic that clamps on the outboard. Secure whatever type you have and make absolutely sure that everything is safe before going out on the water.

A cover is an easy and inexpensive install that will do wonders for your outboard engine. They don’t look like much, but these bits of fabric can keep critters from getting jammed inside the delicate parts of the engine, which leads to more time on the water for you.

What To Look For When Buying An Outboard Cover

There aren’t many ways you can screw up buying an outboard motor cover. They come in so many colors and types that you could be more confused by shopping when you don’t know what to get for your boat.

A few things to look out for when buying an outboard motor cover are:

  • Size – Make sure you have the correct size needed for your engine. Often people will buy a cover that is too large and doesn’t have the same protection as the close-fitting models. So make sure you have the size you need before buying.
  • Attachments – How does it attach itself to the outboard? Knowing if there are snaps or a drawstring can be crucial information for some folks. Keep the attachment type in mind while shopping.

Outboard motor covers should be close fitting and protect the engine housing. If they aren’t properly fitted and secured, they could become a hazard in the water for fish as well as other boaters.

Best Outboard Motor Covers On Amazon

The Explore Land Store has one of the most durable and highly rated outboard covers on Amazon. In addition, they use a threaded piece of nylon strap through a clip for security, making it extremely easy to attach and cinch down.

The good folks at Primeshield make another great cover. It has a waterproof polyester cover that is cinched with a toggle and cord. The cord is easy to use and will provide some security in case the wind wants to drag your cover away.


Having a cover on your outboard will still allow you to operate the boat. The cover is a way to protect the top housing from accidents on the road or from the weather. It is easy to attach and can be a snap to clean.

There are all kinds of outboard motor covers out there. Be sure that you research and find out which type works best for your boat. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that you have the correct size and a secure way to attach it to the outboard. 

Learn More...