How to Clean Your Outboard Motor
Whether you use your outboard in saltwater, freshwater or both, it’s important to clean and maintain your outboard motor so that it will perform the way you want it to and provide you with many happy years of service.
Always Consult Your Owner’s Manual
Because there are many brands, types and sizes of outboard motors, be sure to consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions regarding your motor’s make and model.
Before cleaning your outboard motor, make sure that you:
- NEVER run your outboard motor in a garage or other enclosed space.
- ALWAYS give your engine time to cool and dry before you clean it.
- ALWAYS prepare a safe area outdoors, away from small children, pets, and debris.
- ALWAYS stay clear of the propeller
- NEVER touch anything you’re unsure of
- KNOW when to call in a professional mechanic when you are unable to do something safely and properly yourself
Flush the Engine
Saltwater build-up can cause damage to your outboard motor, so it’s vital that you flush the engine with freshwater after every saltwater use. If you only use your motor in freshwater, you still need to flush it several times a season, as sand and other impurities from lake and river water can also lead to build up of all sorts of unwanted materials.
Use a garden hose with running water and a good-fitting flushing adapter to flush your engine. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommended flushing process found in your owner’s manual. During the flush, allow the engine to run for at least five minutes.
After washing your motor’s exterior, apply a high-quality marine wax to protect against damage.
Also, several times each season, remove the engine cover and use a high-quality silicone spray – one that’s safe to use on rubber and plastic – to coat the power head. Also, use a grease gun to keep the components of your engine lubricated and help protect them from wear and corrosion.
Check the Water Pump
If there are any issues with water flow, the line may be obstructed.
With the engine turned OFF, use a wire-based cleaning instrument to try to loosen and remove any blockages.
Cleaning Before Off-Season Storage
To avoid excessive freezing and ice build up inside your motor, you’ll need to do additional maintenance to winterize it before storage.
Always use fuel that is two-weeks-old or less. When left standing for several months or more, fuel will become sticky and gum up your engine.
- Disconnect and drain your fuel line into an approved container and dispose of excess fuel in an environmentally appropriate manner according to the laws and regulations in your area.
- Burn off any fuel remaining in the carburetor.Run the engine until it stops on its own from lack of fuel. Again, do this outside in a well-ventilated area – never in a garage or other enclosed space – and always stay clear of the propeller. Also, always make sure that your outdoor space is free from small children, pets and debris.
- Do NOT to allow the engine to run without adequate cooling water!. Be sure to periodically check the cooling water tell tale coming from the discharge plug. There should be a steady stream of water coming from this plug when the motor is running.
- Check for any water in the fuel. This would indicate a possible leak.
- Once your engine is flushed and fuel-free, be sure that your engine is turned off.
- Disconnect the battery switch.
- Replace the engine cover.
Check/change the lower unit gear oil and inspect for water according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
Check/change the engine oil and filter, and inspect for water according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
Check/change fuel filter according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
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