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Outboard Motor Care

It's easy to keep your outboard in tip-top shape, even if you're not a mechanic. A little TLC and preventive boat motor maintenance help you safe safely and can keep your motor running well so you can keep finding fish for years to come.

After Every Trip

  • After every outing, flush out the engine. This doesn't just apply to saltwater adventures, but to fresh water outings as well.
  • Buy a set of "rabbit ears" - two flexible rubber seals connected with a metal clamp. Slip the apparatus onto the lower unit where the water is picked up and attach a garden hose.
  • Start up the engine and let the water pump do the rest. (Remember to stay clear of the prop and make sure no one tries to shift the motor into gear.)
  • While you're flushing the motor, check the water pump to be sure it has good water flow. Carefully put your finger through the stream of water. It may be warm, but it shouldn't be hot. If the output is not strong, you may have some debris stuck in the outflow tube. Immediately shut down the engine to prevent overheating and damage.
  • Insert a small piece of wire into the flow tube and work it back and forth. Start the engine again and check the output. If that doesn't solve the problem, you may need a new water pump.
  • After flushing the engine, disconnect the fuel line and allow the engine to burn all the fuel in the carburetor.
  • Once you've finished the flushing and run the engine out of fuel, be sure to turn off the key and, if you have a battery switch, turn it off.
  • Take the engine cowling off and check for fuel or water leaks. If you find leaks, consult a boating mechanic.
  • Wipe everything down and spray with an anticorrosive like WD-40 or Quick-lube. Be sure to lubricate all the moving parts such as the shift and throttle cables, carburetor valves, etc.
  • Replace the cowling and wipe it down. Keep a canvas or plastic cover on the engine between trips.
  • Always use fresh fuel. At the end of the season, boat motor maintenance should include draining your tanks and taking the fuel to the proper recycling authority.

How to Prevent Fuel Separation in Your Boat Engine:

Most fuel that you put in your boat engine contains ethanol,which can cause fuel separation if it gets mixed with water and remains idle for a length of time. Fuel separation can be deadly toa boat engine, so make sure to follow the steps in this video to prevent it from happening to you.



Regular Maintenance

  • Periodically check the fuel line for cracks and worn spots.
  • Make sure the fuel primer bulb is not cracked and is pliable.
  • Make sure the fuel-line fittings seat properly and don't leak.
  • Check the clamps on the fuel line for rust or corrosion.
  • Check the fuel tanks for damage and corrosion.
  • Check the tank vent to make sure it aspirates properly.
  • Check regularly for water in the fuel.

Common Maintenance How-To

In addition to a checking your boat and engine after each trip,make sure you are routinely, or at a minimum, annually checking themotor to ensure everything is running properly. Boat repairs arenot tough, and many boat owners handle the repairs themselves. Hereare a few how-to's on routine maintenance you can handleyourself:

How to Change the Lower Unit Lubricant

Modern outboard lower units use gears with teeth-like bevels that are set on a spiral. This design provides smoother, quieter operation, but the gears produce more heat and friction, which means they need to be properly lubricated at all times. Check your owner's manual for recommended type of lubrication as well as how often to add.



How to Change the Water Pump Impellor

Most boat engines include a water pump that helps keep the engine cool while it runs.  Impellers can get damaged by debris that get sucked in, by chemicals, and especially by running dry. If this happens, or if the impeller is worn from use, it will need to be replaced. This is an easy repair that can be handled at home:



How to Change the Oil in Your Outboard Motor

Just like in your vehicle, the oil in your boat engine will need to be changed. Check your boat owner's manual, but most engines need an oil change once every 100 hours.  This is an easy task that can be done at home with these steps: 


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