The Importance of Annual Maintenance

The Importance of Annual Maintenance
Regular maintenance is the key to longevity and performance of all equipment and machinery–especially so on boats and outboard engines used in the saltwater environment. The customer that comes in requesting a water pump replacement only because, "it might be time for one," is of special concern to a boat service technician. All too often this customer fails to understand the importance of the comprehensive annual service procedures. Sure, a water pump impeller might last for years depending how much the boat is used, but neglecting thorough, periodic servicing of the outboard and the rest of the boat can prove very costly in the long run.

In general, the annual service interval is based on 100 hours of operation in recreational use. The annual service visit at our shop includes (but is not limited to) spark and compression tests, referencing the engine history report, replacing spark plugs, and also all fuel and engine oil filters, both in-line and those in the oil tank itself. The high speed fuel filter and certain spark plugs are usually replaced after 200 hours.

Especially important are removing the oil tank for cleaning and inspection and also the fuel vapor separator tank for inspection and cleaning the filter. We also recommend servicing the water pump, changing lower unit lube, lubing the upper drive shaft, pulling prop to check for fish line wrapped on the shaft, cleaning and lubing all components. Any sign of moisture or milky lower unit lube indicates that a pressure test to verify seal integrity is in order.

Visual inspections include all mounting hardware, lubrication of all fittings, flip every switch on boat to test circuits, clean battery terminals, and inspecting age of batteries and condition. The final steps are test-running, flushing the engine and washing the boat.

Sounds like a lot, and it is, but neglecting any of these steps can prove terribly expensive. Check the photos and note the things that happen over time that you never see and could have been avoided. This incident ended in gear case replacement because the owner said, "It always ran fine, so why should I bring it in?"

Happy New Year!
Chris Mapp

Coastal Bend Marine
Port O'Connor, TX