Boat Maintenance Tips July '11

Is there an outboard that can go three years without maintenance? The simple answer is, NO - not here on the Texas Gulf coast. With that said, I cannot think of a single outboard on the market that is anything less than awesome. Outboard motor manufacturers are currently offering the finest products I have ever seen. Still though, regular maintenance is the key to trouble-free boating. Why? Sand, salt, minerals, and ethanol are constants in the equation and must be dealt with on a regular basis.

Fuel additive should be used every time you fill the tank. The engine should be flushed following every trip in saltwater. Wash the entire exterior of the boat and engine after each use to remove salt and be sure to wash the hydraulic steering and jackplate area.

Fuel/water separating filters should be changed every 6 months minimum. Under-cowling engine filters should be changed annually. If you do your own work, the plastic filter holder might swell and will be hard or impossible to put back on. Put it in the freezer for thirty minutes and this should shrink it back to normal, (effect of ethanol). Battery cable connections need checked/cleaned monthly.

Every 100 hours: Lower unit should be removed and upper driveshaft splines lubricated, water pump inspected, lower-unit fluid changed, grease fittings lubricated. On the upper-end, spark plugs need changed along with under-cowling fuel filters, oil filter, and oil changed if a 4-stroke. Some spark plugs are pricey, but when owning a $10,000 - $20,000 outboard it is just good business. Also - remove oil from oil tank, clean tank and pick up tube, change internal filter. NEVER mix brands of 2-stroke oil repeatedly. Gelling in the tank will result. Cheap outboard lube is not cheap in the long run.

Every 200 hours: Engine should be de-carbonized, high-speed filter changed, and prop inspected for wear.

Every month (more often during season): Pull the prop and check for fishing line behind thrust washer. When reinstalling prop, lube the shaft and tighten the jam nut to manufacturers specs; if specs not available, tighten until nut is snug, then turn one to two full turns, install new stainless locking device. Never hold a prop with your hand while tightening or loosening jam nut. Instead, lodge a short piece of wood between prop and anti-ventilation plate.

Wet cell batteries should be replaced every two years; fuel line and primer bulb every three years.

As marine dealers we are here to help and we want you to have a positive experience every time you come through our door. The trust you place in us to keep you on the water is not taken lightly and we feel good information is as good as good service. Please remember that maintenance is the owner's responsibility, even during warranty. Failures due to lack of maintenance are not covered and can end in a bad experience at your dealer's service center.

Have a great and safe summer.

Chris Mapp
Coastal Bend Marine
Port O'Connor, Texas
361 983 4841