5 Tips for Outboard Owners

These days, your average fishing boat owner probably has an outboard. And today’s outboards, be they two or four stroke models, run smoother, quieter, and more efficiently than ever before. But in order to keep them running this way, you need to treat them right. Here are five tips that will keep your outboard humming along happily.

outboard engine

Show those outboard engines some love, and they’ll hum along for years.

1. Every now and again run a piece of 50 to 100 pound test monofilament up into the tell-tail hole, spinning it between your fingers as you go. This will dislodge any crud that gets stuck in the passage, and keep the water flowing strong.

2. Don’t shift into and out of gear while the engine is shut down. On many models, this can eventually damage the transmission.

3. If your propshaft wasn’t sufficiently lubricated and now your prop is stuck, DO NOT start hitting it with a hammer. Simply back your rig down the boat ramp (with the prop nut removed), start the engine up, shift into reverse for a moment, then shift into forward. The change in direction will almost always break the prop free. Note – don’t go from forward into reverse, or you could spin the prop right off.

4. Every time you remove the prop spin the shaft by hand. If it wobbles even a tiny bit, head for the shop; a bent propshaft will lead to bigger problems, down the road.

5. Always give the motor mount and steering bracket a thorough freshwater rinse when you flush the engine after a trip in saltwater. These are common point for corrosion to form over time.

Why didn’t we even mention ethanol issues? Because we talked about them here, in Duck Boat Blues and in Clogged Carb? This is How You Fix It.


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  1. David Doell

    Never start the engine if the lower unit is not in the water. It will destroy the impeller/water pump if not lubricated/cooled by water.

    • LRudow

      Hey David – that’s true, for sure! When on land, always use earmuffs with the hose running or have the lower unit completely submerged in a barrel.

  2. Bill Collins

    How do I run all the gas out of my outboard. Heard that was not good for injectors. Don’t have disconnect on fuel line. Should I install one? Thanks

    • LRudow

      Please note the tips started with “Carb Clogger”! Maybe I should have been more clear about it – this relates to carburated engines. You are correct, with EFI this step isn’t advisable.