Every outboard motor needs maintenance.  As a bare minimum you should service your outboard engine at the start of the season. You can probably do this servicing yourself, but if you prefer it can be done by a marine mechanic.  Remember, there are no hard shoulders out at sea, so you will depend on the outboard to get you back in, safely.  So it is important you must service the outboard!

Once the outboard engine has had its annual service you can do some tasks throughout the season to keep it in tip top condition.  If you can get into the routine of flushing the outboard after every use with freshwater, to clean the internal water ways, it will help prevent corrosion and clogging.  An easy to use piece of kit, called a flushing kit, is used to connect to a water hose and also to the water intake of the outboard.  If you run the engine in neutral for a few minutes it will clear any salt water, sand or grit in the engine cooling system.  Also check that as you are pumping water into the engine, that water is leaving via the exhaust!  This should be a constant stream of warm, not hot, water.

If you are not getting a constant stream then the cooling channels may be blocked, slightly.  You can use some thin wire to insert into the exit pipe and try to clear it.  If that does not produce the required flow then you may need a new water pump. 

When you have finished flushing the outboard motor, disconnect the fuel pipe or switch off the fuel;  this is to allow the remaining fuel to be used by the engine. Check all round the engine with the cowling off and see if there are any fuel or water leaks. Repair if you can or take to your marine mechanic. If everything is OK then spray the whole engine with either WD40 or Quick-Lube.  Make sure all moving parts are sprayed and they move easily.  Close the fuel vent tap.

If you keep you outboard on the boat rail between trips then buy or make a cover to protect the engine from the weather.

 

Has your outboard gone under water?
 
What you should do if your outboard engine goes under the water?  As quickly as possible, wash the outboard with freshwater all over, to get rid of  any saltwater. Saltwater in the engine will corrode the internal parts very quickly.  Then empty all fuel from the tank and fuel lines etc.  Take out the spark plugs and either clean and dry or replace them.  Look over the engine to see if there has been any grit or sand ingested.  Try and remove it or get the engine serviced.  If there is no grit or sand then you can begin to turn the engine over, by hand.  Crank it slowly by hand, this allows water to be expelled.  Try cranking it at different angles, even upside down. To ensure all the water has drained out.

Once you are sure you have no water in the engine you can flush the cylinders and crankcase with pure alcohol, this will absorb any remaining water droplets in the engine.  If you wash all the parts in hot soapy water and allow them to dry or use a hair dryer then you will need to coat them with oil, to protect them from rusting.  Assemble the engine, add the fuel and turn over the engine.  Try starting it, if it fires up then allow it to run with some throttle in a container filled with freshwater to allow the engine to cool as it should.. The outboard motor is now ready for use.

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