Outboard Motor Maintenance

QUICK GUIDE TO MAINTAINING YOUR OUTBOARD MOTOR

A little TLC goes a long way when it comes to outboard motors. At the very least, you should get your motor checked over at the beginning of every season by a professional mechanic. But there are other good maintenance habits that will save you money on repairs in the long run. Here is everything you need to know about maintaining your outboard motor to keep it going strong and keep you out on the water for years to come.

CHECKING THE COWL

The cowl is the watertight plastic covering that protects your motor components from the spray. You will find a rubber seal and compression latches to prevent water sneaking in. Check these periodically to ensure there is no water making its way in, also make sure nothing is building up and obstructing the grilled intakes that suck air in and help remove water droplets that might have got inside the cowl.

FLUSH OUT THE ENGINE AFTER EVERY TIME OUT ON THE WATER

A common misconception is that you only need to flush out your engine after saltwater excursions. In reality, you should flush it out after every trip. The good news is that it couldn’t be easier to do. Just start up your engine and the water pump will flush it out on its own. All you need to do is check the outflow. It should have good flow without obstruction, and be slightly warm. If the water coming out is boiling hot, it could be indicative of an issue.

Once you have flushed the engine (it should take around 10 minutes), disconnect the fuel line. Leave the engine running to burn off all the fuel already in the carburettor. Once you have burnt it off, wipe the cowl down and switch everything off.

MONITOR FUEL CONSUMPTION

One of the earliest indicators that you might need to change your spark plugs is a rapid increase in fuel consumption. If you notice a change, take your spark plugs out and put them into a spark plug tester.

When I replace a spark plug, I always replace the plug wire as well. These often have a shorter life than the plug itself and you don’t want any burning out while you are out on the water.

ENGINE OIL

TWO-STROKE

If you own a two-stroke engine, you will need to regularly fill the oil reservoir. This is a good opportunity to clean the filter screen to stop any debris from building up and clogging it.

FOUR-STROKE

With four-stroke engines, you will need to get regular valve adjustments done on the engine to keep it running with maximum efficiency. You will find the necessary information on how often your engine needs adjustments in the owner’s manual.

FUEL LINE

Every season, check the fuel line for cracks, worn areas, and abrasions. Also, make sure the fittings don’t leak and the fuel tank is not corroding.

THROTTLE CABLES

If you outboard uses a mechanical throttle cable connecting the helm to the powerhead, this should be regularly inspected and lubricated. You will soon notice the throttle becoming tacky and balky if it is not regularly maintained. Your owner’s manual should have all the relevant information on maintaining your throttle cable.

Your boat is like anything else, the more you look after it, the less expensive it is in the long run. If you spend a little time at the end of each trip, and carry out the necessary checks at the beginning of each season, your pocket will reap the rewards.


 

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John Steele
johnsteele@dinga.com.au

John loves cooking at home and outdoors, travelling, fishing and discovering a new life. He's got loads of experience he wants to share while he adventures through retirement.