Fuel tanks on a boat are a critical component for obvious reasons. Whether big or small, unfortunately, aluminum boat fuel tanks have a limited life span and require replacement. The process of swapping a leaking tank for a fresh one is a major project due to the confined locations in which they sit. What is a boat fuel tank replacement cost?

Why Do Boat Fuel Tanks Deteriorate

Saltwater environments are harsh and cause corrosion, which eats away at the aluminum tanks’ shell, particularly around welds. Over time, a hole is opened, allowing gasoline or diesel to spill into the bilge.

A bilge saturated in gasoline or diesel is not only an environmental hazard but a risk to the operator and passengers in the event of unintentional ignition. The problem requires immediate attention to be remedied.

Corrosion in areas with high levels of salt exposure is unavoidable. However, if tank access is available, rinse the tank with fresh water and allow the compartment to dry before closing in the tank. For the most part, the tank will not be accessible. 

How Long Does A Boat Fuel Tank Last

Considering that boats are constructed to last for decades, it is hard to imagine the tank becoming a point of failure. 

Most aluminum tanks have a life span of between ten and twelve years. That is a short time frame considering the effort and cost of replacement. 

Take all measures to extend the tank’s lifespan and avoid coming out of pocket because it will be painful on the wallet. 

How Long Does It Take To Replace A Fuel Tank

The answer to this question is highly dependent on the type of boat and the tank access or lack thereof.  

Gasoline is highly flammable, and as a result, the process of pulling tanks often requires utilizing tools that will not create a spark and, in turn, ignite into an explosion. 

Remember, a vessel is often equipped with two tanks as opposed to one. Therefore, considering replacing them in conjunction because of both cost savings and the second tank likely being on the brink of failure. 

More often than not, the deck must be cut and removed to gain access to the fuel tank or tanks. When the removal is more challenging and time-consuming, the higher the end cost. 

Keep in mind; the tanks are secured to the vessel in addition to being plumbed with a vent line, intake hose for filling, and a hose to feed the engine. The plumbing can be complex and must be completed with caution.

Once the deck is cut, the plumbing is removed, and the tank is pulled. The new gas or diesel tank is ready to be installed and the plumbing reconnected.

Lastly, the enormous hole in the deck requires re-fiber glassing, which is best left to highly trained professionals. As a result of the large cutout, the floor requires reinforcement to withstand passengers walking over the once gaping hole. 

The process is long and tedious, resulting in high labor costs when compared to the parts required to complete the installation.

So What Is A Boat Fuel Tank Replacement Cost

The cost to replace a boat’s fuel tanks is highly dependent on the deck access. The cost will increase significantly when deck cutouts are required.  

Replacing fuel tanks in boats ranging between 18 and 25 feet will cost between $4,000 and $10,000. Again the cost is subject to the labor in accessing the tanks.

Boats are expensive toys that require costly maintenance regularly. Be prepared to shell out money at a moment’s notice for unexpected repairs.

So When Your Boat Shows Signs Of A Leaking Tank Should You Fix It

The decision on whether or not to replace a leaking gas tank in a boat is challenging. Take into account the age of the vessel and its market value to make the decision. No sense in dumping money into a watercraft that will not recover the repair cost when sold. However, many are worth repairing for the years of enjoyment that lie ahead.