Keeping your outboard engine in good working order begins with keeping an eye on it between service center visits. Routine maintenance and inspections, plus a little TLC before and after each trip, can help keep you safe on the water and keep repair costs down. Here are a few things you can do.
Before Each Trip
- Inspect the engine, especially under the engine cowling and around the propeller and gear case. Look for any oil leaks and check the prop for damage. Check the oil level; too much is just as harmful as not enough. Also, check the condition of your fuel lines and primer bulb. They shouldn’t be cracked, faded or leaking any fuel.
- Check your battery, making sure the connections are clean and tight. Turn your battery switch on and perform a boat systems check. Verify important safety features like the bilge pump, navigational lights and more are working right.
- Always use fresh fuel. (Ethanol-free is strongly recommended.) Also, only buy fuel you’ll use in the next 30 days, as it’s no longer a good idea to keep old fuel in your tank. Today’s fuels don’t last long, and water-separating filters are now large enough to collect condensation in your tank, so you don’t need to keep your tank full.
After each Trip
- Flush out the engine. If you’ve been on a saltwater trip, we suggest launching the boat into a freshwater lake and running the engine long enough to come up to operating temperature. This helps flush the trailer as well.
- While the engine is running, look at the telltale stream. It should be strong and warm, but not hot. If it’s weak, this could be a sign of a blockage in the cooling system or a weak water pump impeller.
- Once you’ve run the engine long enough to flush it, trim the motor up and be sure to turn off the key and the battery switch.
- Wash down the exterior of the engine while cleaning the boat. Remove the cowling and check for water, fuel or oil leaks, and apply your saltwater blocking agent.