How To Maintain A Boat Outboard Motor

Performing at home maintenance on outboard motors can save money and time.

Outboard engines make the difference between an enjoyable day on the water and a long stretch of rowing your boat back to dock. For this reason, outboard motor maintenance is a key part of owning a boat. In this boat motor repair guide, we will go through how to maintain your outboard boat motor.

What Is an Outboard Motor?

In short, an outboard motor is a self-contained propulsion system. These are motors plus a gearbox and either a propeller (prop) or a jet drive.

When Should You Clean Outboard Engines?

You should clean an outboard boat motor after every use. It should also be cleaned and tested if it has been stored for more than two months. The engine needs a tune-up at the beginning of boating season.

Boat Motor Repair — How Often?

If you use your boat year-round, plan on a tune-up at least twice per year and preferably once every two to three months if you use your motor more often. The more you use the motor, the more maintenance it will need.

Outboard Motor Parts — What Are Some Things You Should Always Check?

  • After every outing, check all of the moving parts. First, make sure the motor is turned off and then remove the outer covering. Look for water infiltration or leaks around hoses. Spray moving external parts with a hydrophobic solution — such as STA-BIL Rust Stopper.
  • Check the fuel and fuel lines for signs of water, cracks or leaks. Water in the gas not only causes internal motor damage, but it can prevent the engine from running. Water can get into fuel tanks by condensation.
  • After every use, check the spark plug for corrosion. It is always a good idea to carry a spare spark plug in your tackle box or engine repair kit, especially for small outboard motors.

What Type of Fuel or Fuel Treatment Should You Use?

The type of fuel you use for your motor depends on the type of motor you have, its size and the manufacturer. Two-stroke engines, for example, require a mixture of oil and gas. Additives, such as STA-BIL 360°® Marine™, should be part of every boat owner’s maintenance prevention plan. This product offers a vapor coating that seals and protects the engine from corrosion. It also keeps your fuel fresh for up to 12 months.

If you consider that outboard motor parts work in water and that the risk of getting water inside of the engine is common, then it just makes sense to use a product that helps protect your engine from corrosion. In fact, water is not the only source of corrosion — sometimes it is the fuel itself. Condensation and sediments in the fuel can also cause damage. A good fuel additive helps protect your engine, including small outboard motors, from premature wear caused by water and fuel sediments.

Outboard Motor Maintenance — Should You Use Anti-Corrosives?

Each time you use the motor, it needs to be cleaned. STA-BIL Rust Stopper is perfect for spraying on external moving parts. This formula is a hydrophobic chemical that repels water and moisture.

As equally important is the protection of internal engine parts from water and moisture, and again, a product like STA-BIL 360° Marine does the job perfectly.

What Do the Pros Use to Keep up With Motor Maintenance?

For engine maintenance, the pros use top-shelf products that offer cutting-edge technology. Key areas to focus on include boosts to power and fuel efficiency, fuel stabilization and improved performance. A top fuel additive is a must, especially for motors that sit for a week or two between uses. Fuel settles and it begins to separate. A good fuel product keeps gas and boat fuel mixed so that it is cleaner, burns better, and produces more power with better efficiency. The go-to product, in this case, is STA-BIL 360° Marine.

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  • Thanks for sharing this great tips on outboard maintenance one thing I would definitely mention is changing your lower unit oil every 100 hours with marine full synthetic lower unit oil. I also change my engine oil with Full Synthetic Mobil 1 Oil every 3 months or so depending how often I use the boat. One thing I will definitely start doing is using STA-BIL Rust Stopper and spray the external parts of the engine. I use Honda Corrosion Inhibitor for the internal parts.