How Do Boat Engines Stay Cool?

Cooling systems in car and truck engines are all the same. Coolant is cycled through the engine block, heater core, water pump, and radiator, removing excess heat from the engine and preventing overheating.   

On the other hand, boats utilize two distinct types of cooling systems. In this article, we will go over how boat engines stay cool when you are out on the water!  

What Does the Cooling System Do?  

Internal combustion engines generate power with thousands of tiny explosions per minute, and all that combustion puts off lots of heat.   

With no place to go, all that heat would quickly lead to lots of issues, from a blown head gasket to catastrophic engine damage. Cooling systems solve this problem by cycling a liquid (antifreeze or water) through the engine block with a pump. The coolant absorbs heat from the motor, and then passes through a heat exchanger, allowing it to dissipate.  

While variations of this system are used across all internal combustion engines, there are some differences in the way boat motors are cooled.   

Raw Water Cooling  

Most small boats use a cooling system called raw water cooling. Unlike cars and trucks, boats operate in an unlimited supply of cold liquid, a lake or river! Raw water systems take advantage of this by continuously drawing water from the lake, pumping it through the engine, and expelling the hot water back out.   

A big advantage of raw water systems is simplicity. A rubber impeller pulls water from the lake or river, and expels it out through the exhaust. Raw water cooling is used on all outboard motors and many inboard/sterndrive systems.  

Without coolant on board, there is no risk of antifreeze leaking into the body of water a boat is on. This added benefit is a significant reduction in environmental risk, as coolant is extremely toxic to wildlife.  

Enclosed Cooling System  

In marine applications, an enclosed cooling system uses a combination of internally circulating coolant and raw water to keep the engine cool. Much like a car or truck, an engine with enclosed cooling has a reservoir of antifreeze that circulates through the engine. Unlike a car or truck, however, the coolant passes through a heat exchanger which is cooled by a separate raw water system instead of a radiator cooled by air.   

Enclosed cooling systems are more complicated than raw water but offer performance advantages. Enclosed cooling systems are more effective at cooling the engine, allowing it to operate at higher temperatures safely.   

Additionally, enclosed cooling is beneficial for boats operating in salt water. Keeping saltwater separate from the engine prevents corrosion and extends the life of the motor.   

Marine Engine Cooling Maintenance  

No matter what cooling system your boat has, regular maintenance is essential. If something goes wrong and your engine overheats, the repair bill can get expensive quickly. Raw water systems will require periodic impeller replacements and proper winterization every year to prevent cold weather damage.   

For boats with enclosed cooling, it is important to check and replace the raw water impeller if needed and make sure there is no buildup or corrosion preventing water flow in the heat exchangers. This is especially important for boats that operate in salt water, whether it is the ocean or the Great Salt Lake.   

Marine Service and Repair at Matson Point S  

Matson Point S is your go-to boat repair shop in the Salt Lake Valley. Our facility in Riverton is staffed with some of the most skilled marine technicians in Utah. You can trust our team to handle all your marine services, from general maintenance to diagnoses and parts replacement. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today! 


Best Lakes for Boating in Utah

Utah is best known for its winter activities and national parks. After all, we have the “greatest snow on earth” in the Wasatch Range and world-famous parks like Arches and Canyon Lands in the south. These attractions bring in lots of visitors and keep locals from leaving.

Outdoor activities in Utah aren’t just limited to wintertime and national parks. Our state has some great lakes that provide ample space to get out on your boat and explore. Whether you like water sports, fishing, or just cruising on the water, Utah’s lakes provide ample water space for all activities. In this article, we’re going over some of the best lakes in Utah to go boating!

Lake Powell

Lake Powell is a reservoir in southern Utah, right on the border with Arizona. A series of narrow channels cut through the desert, Lake Powell offers stunning views of high red stone cliffs and arches.

Lake Powell is a man-made reservoir located in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It has an average depth of 132 feet and is home to fish including bass, crappie, catfish, carp, brown trout, and more. Being in southern Utah, you can expect warm water temperatures of around 70-80 degrees in the summer.

Lake Powell has several large marinas. Wahweap Marina is the largest on the lake and is located in Page Arizona. Bullfrog Marina, the second largest, can be found on the Utah side, located in Hanksville.  

White boat docked at Lake Powell

Depending on where you live, it can be a bit of a drive to get to Lake Powell. The closest major cities are St. George and Cedar City, both of which are 150 miles away. If you live in the Salt Lake or Utah County area, expect a drive of over 350 miles. While Lake Powell may not be ideal for a weekend trip, a long vacation here can be perfect.  

Bear Lake

You can find Bear Lake on Utah’s Northern border with Idaho. Sometimes called the “Caribbean of the Rockies” due to its turquoise-colored waters, Bear Lake offers incredible views to visitors, whether you are sitting on the shore or out on the water. The lake has an average depth of 94 feet and over 69,000 acres of surface area. Services can be found at State Marina, Marina Rentals, and North Beach Rentals.

Bear Lake’s location in northern Utah means the water temperature is colder. In the summer, you can expect the water to be around 55-65 degrees. For fishermen, the lake houses cutthroat trout, lake trout, Bonneville whitefish, Bonneville cisco, and Bear Lake whitefish. The latter three species are endemic to Bear Lake, meaning it’s the only place in the world they can be caught!

orange sunset over Bear Lake

Northern Utah cities like Ogden and Logan are closest to Bear Lake, with 40-mile and 87-mile drives respectively. If you live in Salt Lake City or Utah Country, the drive to Bear Lake is well over 100 miles.

Flaming Gorge

Located in the Uintah’s in eastern Utah near the border with Wyoming, Flaming Gorge is nestled in the Ashley National Forest. This man-made reservoir is named for the orange and red rock colors surrounding the water.

Flaming Gorge shoreline with trees

The water in Flaming Gorge ranges from 60-68 degrees in the summer. The reservoir has an average depth of 212 feet and is home to 9 species of fish, including Kokanee salmon, brown trout, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, and burbot.

This reservoir is pretty far from most major cities in Utah (203 miles from Salt Lake City, 194 miles from Ogden, 183 miles from Park City) but its remoteness is part of the draw. If you live in Vernal or Naples, the drive is much shorter, only around 40 miles.

Once you are at Flaming Gorge, services can be found at Cedar Springs and Lucerne Valley marinas. The lake offers 42,000 acres of surface area and camping in the surrounding forest.

Jordanelle Reservoir 

So far, the lakes on this list have been a significant distance away from the Salt Lake Valley, meaning for a large portion of Utahans, a planned multi-day trip is often required to visit them. Jordanelle Reservoir is located in Wasatch County, only 10 miles from Park City and less than 40 miles from Salt Lake City.

Jordanelle Reservior with snow-capped mountains

The reservoir is home to yellow perch, smallmouth, and largemouth bass, as well as rainbow and brown trout. It has an average depth of 109 feet. Due to its elevation and water supply coming from snow melt, the water can be colder, usually below 70 degrees.

Jordanelle Rentals and Marina offers boat, kayak, and jet ski rentals. The reservoir is located in Jordanelle State Park, which offers camping and hiking in addition to lake activities.

Utah Lake

Located in Utah County, Utah Lake is a shallow body of water only a few miles from Provo and Orem. Despite having a maximum depth of 14 feet, its proximity to the surrounding cities makes it a popular destination.

You can catch Bullhead and Channel catfish, Common carp, walleye, and more in Utah Lake.

Several marinas around the lake offer rental services, boat launches, and picnic areas.

Utah Lake in the distance with city


This is far from an exhaustive list. Utah has many more lakes to explore, but these are some of the most popular, and for good reason. No matter where you live in the state, you aren’t too far from great boating.

Marine Service at Matson Point S

Matson Point S is the Salt Lake Valley’s best marine service shop. Our experienced boat technicians can handle everything from general maintenance to in-depth repairs. Need some work done before you head out for a weekend on one of Utah’s lakes? Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!

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