When it comes to outboard maintenance to winterise your boat after the last hazy days of Autumn have faded, you have two choices. You can take the motor to a dealership and have it professionally readied, or you can do the job yourself in as little as two hours and with minimal equipment.
You will save significantly if you choose to perform outboard maintenance yourself, and when spring comes and your motor purrs to life again on the first try, you’ll be glad you took the time and effort to perform this seasonal ritual.
Before you start your outboard maintenance, check to see if you have all the necessary supplies and equipment on hand:
- Owner’s manual (Use only recommended products or you could void your warranty.)
- Garden hose
- Freshwater flushing unit or clean water container
- Screwdriver and adjustable spanner
- Coffee can or container
- Fuel conditioner and lower unit lubricant oil (available at marine store)
- Rust-prevention oil (fogging oil)
- Any replacement nuts or bolts you need
- Touch-up paint
- Car wax and soft rags
In lieu of the Owner’s Manual Instructions, the following steps will complete your outboard maintenance:
- Perform a freshwater flush by using a flushing attachment or running your outboard in a container filled with clean water at less than half throttle for several minutes.
- Before you run out all the fuel, spray fogging oil into the carburetor(s) to protect the internal surfaces against corrosion. Operate another five minutes for thorough circulation and coating. Turn off the motor, remove flushing gear or lift out of tank, and while it is upright, let all the water drain out. This may include opening any drain plugs. Water left in the engine or gear case in the winter can freeze and expand, cracking the block and/or the housing—an expensive repair job.
- Pull the spark plugs and spray fogging oil into holes. Rotate the flywheel for good coverage. Check condition of plugs, replacing or gapping if necessary, and re-install.
- Lubricate all pivots and visible gears including the electric starter drive equipment.
- Drain and refill oil tank with lubricant to prevent inside condensation build-up.
- Lightly spray anticorrosion protection on powerhead. Check for loose or missing nuts and bolts.
- Drain your fuel tank and supply lines. Transfer fuel to another vehicle or yard appliance to save waste. OR Store the tanks full to prevent condensation and add a recommended amount of petrol stabiliser.
- Consider this a great time to get your prop serviced, touch up any paint spots and apply a good wax and polish job.
- Your engine should always be stored in a safe, upright position, indoors if possible but definitely covered if kept outside.
- During the off-season months occasionally work the throttle and engage the gears by carefully pulling the starter cord. Check the water level in the battery from time to time, adding water if necessary.