The various gauges, lights and screens on your motor yacht’s instrumental panel constantly monitor the health of your vessel. These marine gauges provide you with a vital window into what is going on in the engine and all the critical systems tucked away where you cannot see them. But, they can only do that if you know how to read them, and they are in proper calibration and working order.

The problem is, diagnostic systems rely on very sensitive components, and as any boater knows, the marine environment can be very harsh on electronics, which means that marine gauges can malfunction far more often than those on land bound equipment. Just a little corrosion, or a weak connection, can cause a gauge to give false information, or fail altogether.

However, if you have a good understanding of how they work, and what they are supposed to do, an observant yacht owner can spot any issues with a malfunctioning gauge before it can put you and your passengers at risk.

Types of Marine Gauges

Many of the gauges you will find on the dashboard of most boats, are not that different than those you would find on your car. The basics are: the tachometer, fuel, speedometer, trim, voltmeter, oil pressure, and water temperature gauges. The trim is a gauge you will not find on any car. The trim measures how high your engines are raised or lowered so you can adjust the tilt of your boat in the water.

Of course, the larger and more sophisticated your vessel, the more complex the dashboard, with the instrument panel of some luxury motor yachts resembling that of an aircraft!

Aircraft, Starship – or modern motor yacht?

However the most critical gauges to monitor are oil pressure, temperature, and fuel. A problem with any of the three areas that these gauges monitor are the most common causes for a boat to break down, or an engine to fail.

Your tachometer is another important gauge. It monitors RPMs or your engines speed. Monitoring this information enables you to make better decisions on fuel consumption and boat performance.

A gauge that is becoming increasingly more common is an exhaust gas temperature gauge. This marine gauge can help identify potential engine problems more accurately than with a temperature gauge and oil gauge alone.

Troubleshooting Marine Gauges

To trouble shoot, and if necessary repair marine gauges, you need to know how they work. Basic analog marine gauges are not that complicated. They are basically three operational components that could be the cause of a faulty gauge –  the gauge itself, the wiring, or the sender. The “sender” is whatever it is in the system, such as the “float” in a gauge that monitors liquid levels, such as your fuel gauge, that “sends” the information, via the wiring to the gauge. If you suspect that a gauge may be malfunctioning, your first step should be simply to check the terminals that connect to the back of the gauge and see if they are loose or dirty. If that does not do the trick, follow the guide in your owner’s manual on how to check for calibration using an ohm detector. If the gauge does not calibrate, the gauge is faulty, and needs to be replaced. If it does calibrate, and all your connections are good, then the problem is in the sender.

Is Your Motor Yacht Equipped with the Latest Diagnostics?

Now that you have a better idea of what all of your marine gauges and indicators mean, and how to troubleshoot them, you may want to consider upgrading to the very latest digital and integrated versions available.

Before considering an upgrade to more sophisticated gauges or electronics, it is important to have all of the wiring, connections, and other components of your electrical system inspected. These may also need to be upgraded to be compatible with any new marine electronics.

Did you know that routine inspection and maintenance of your electrical system is part of our On Demand yachting solution?

That is only one advantage of being part of On Demand yachting. Members can always be confident when they go out that all gauges are calibrated and functioning properly.

You will also always be aware of when upgrades to any system from hydraulics to your engines, may be necessary, and you can make an informed decision on any refits or planned maintenance.



Operating a motor yacht can be costly. You can reduce your expenses, and avoid costly repairs by keeping her well maintained. On Demand yachting from FYM can help. If you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Yacht Management specialists, or call us at (954) 900-9968.