Boating Tips

Boating Tips: Get your motor running

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Maintaining your boat’s motor is one way of keeping the costs of your pleasurable pastime from skyrocketing out of control. Follow our tips and enjoy trouble-free boating that won’t drain your bank balance.


Inspect and change the water separator. In a saltwater environment, the water separator will corrode very quickly. Check and change it every few months. Wet the O-ring of the new separator with a light coating of oil and hand tighten the separator. Tightening it with a filter wrench can scratch the paint off the water separator filter and this will increase the onset of rust. Rust can quickly eat through the outer metal housing of the water separator.

Remember, water in your outboard engine is not combustible or compressible and can cause damage to the rings, pistons and even cause crankshaft failure. It’s much easier and obviously cheaper to replace the water separator filter timeously than to pay for an entire engine overhaul and have your boat out of commission for a while.


Changing the gear case lube on your outboard every 100 hours of usage, or once a year is very important. This will maintain the integrity and lubricity of the components housed in the gear case, stopping problems such as eroding gears. Gear case lube kits, which contain gear case pumps, can be purchased from your local marine dealer at minimal cost.

Gear case lube can be changed easily at home. By changing the gear case lubricants regularly, you will quickly pick up if seals are corroded and if water is getting into the gear case system. If water is left in there, catastrophic gear case failure can occur, which can be really expensive to repair.


It is vitally important to check and replace spark plugs if they are showing signs of wear. Over time the spark plug gaps widen through usage and this can cause fouling of the spark plugs and a reduction in fuel efficiency. The sooting caused by worn spark plugs also has a negative bearing on the motor as there is a buildup of more abrasive materials and this causes excessive wear on
other engine components.

Check the owner’s manual for the required spark plug gap for your motor and change out the spark plugs on your motor per the manufacturer’s specification.


Always check the oil in the motor. That means every time – before you hit the water. If the oil levels are low it can have a negative effect on bearings, rockers, valves and cranks. A motor can easily seize if there is no oil to lubricate it.

Top up low oil levels before every outing and if you find your motor is using more oil than it should, have you marine dealer check the oil seals for leaks or give the motor a full oil service, checking all the related components.

Replacing an engine that has blown, due to lack of oil, is obviously more costly than regular oil checks and top-ups.


Engine flushing is another very important maintenance aspect of an outboard motor. Regular flushing out of salt water will have your outboard motor running for 10 years. Neglecting to flush your outboard of the corrosive salts will dramatically reduce its lifespan.

What’s more, all it costs you is a little time and a few litres of water to stop the buildup of corrosive sediments and deposits.


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