How To Care For Your Outboard Engine
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.