The Ultimate Guide to Outboard Motor Care

Posted by Bixpy on May 10th 2022

The Ultimate Guide to Outboard Motor Care

The dependability of your outboard motor may have you take it for granted. However, it's imperative to grasp how these contemporary wonders work to give them the proper care. You can use this as the ultimate guide to outboard motor care, so you never have a day wasted because of a stalled engine.


The hood or cowl of the outboard motor shields the powerhead and its parts from excessive moisture. A rubbery seal keeps water out from the bottom of the hood and compression latches. As a result, it's crucial to periodically inspect the seal and its locks to ensure they're in great shape and functioning correctly. Furthermore, cowls contain baffled intakes that enable airflow while swiftly dispersing any water infiltration.


The bread and butter of an outboard motor is the powerhead. The powerhead contains the alternator, starter, electronic control module, fuel-injection system, and cable ports. On a two-stroke engine, the powerhead will also inhabit an oil-injection system.

You can find the powerhead beneath the cowl, and your level of care will depend on what stroke engine you have. Maintaining a two-stroke outboard engine requires frequently filling the oil and cleaning the filter screen. Oil and oil filter replacements are necessary for a four-stroke outboard engine, but they don't require you to do them as frequently as a two-stroke engine.

It would help to tweak the values regularly for four-stroke engines to guarantee optimum efficiency. Consult your owner's handbook for the timetable for this service. When the time comes, have an outboard motor professional do the service for you.

After each trip, the maintenance you can do can be flushing the engine with clean water. Numerous engines include specific fittings that allow for the attachment of a garden hose to clean the internal cooling-water passageways without operating the engine.

Throttle & Shift

If you have an older outboard motor, the throttle and shift systems have cables that connect to the powerhead. These cables require frequent lubrication and maintenance, particularly the cables' link and control box.

Cables can deteriorate with time, and it may be worth replacing them. Consult your owner's handbook for specified maintenance procedures and follow them if the performance becomes erratic. Have the throttle-and-shift system inspected by a skilled outboard specialist if the problem persists.

Fuel System

Almost all outboard motors run on gasoline, and the majority use electronic fuel injection (EFI), which is far greater than carburetors of the past. EFI outboard motors are simple to start, take less warm-up time, and have better fuel economy.

Concerns about ethanol-laced gas have increased the need to upkeep its fuel systems. Modern outboard motors aren't designed to run on gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol. Anything that contains large amounts of ethanol may ruin the motor and cause complications. Even the smallest amount can mix with water to produce gunk that may cause the engine to shut down.


It's nice to have more room in the cockpit because the motor is outside the boat, especially if you are an avid angler. It can open things up in the bilge for additional gear that you wouldn't have room for. 

Because outboards do not require huge holes in the boat as other options do, there is no need to cram oneself into the bilge to inspect the oil or replace the valves. Compared to other motors like the inboard option, the ease of inspection makes the outboard motor more popular.

Tilt & Trim

The motorized tilt-and-trim feature enables you to drop or elevate the drive with the press of a button. You can put the drive in three different trims: negative trim is when you have the drive bent forward slightly, neutral trim is when the outboard is when you raise it vertically, and positive trim is when you move the lower unit outward. Trim permits you to control the direction of the boat's bow to get the most convenient and comfortable ride.

You may raise the outboard to reduce your draft by several inches by tilting it up. Lastly, you may raise the drive out of the water when docking the boat with the tilt feature. This distinct feature contributes to the reduction of outboard corrosion. Similarly, it might be beneficial while fishing in shallow water. 


One significant benefit of steering is that directed thrust provides excellent control while turning, especially at low speeds. Most boats use hydraulic and power-assisted hydraulic steering, with regular hydraulic being the preferred choice. 

While all types of hydraulic-steering systems have shown to be dependable, you must monitor the fluid levels regularly. If the steering becomes clumsy, a hydraulic leak may be the culprit, and you should contact a service technician immediately. 


The shaft length is determined by the height of the transom, with the goal being to have the lower unit beneath the running surface provide fresh water to the propeller for the boat to operate. The four shaft lengths range from 15 inches to 30 inches.

Lower Unit

Another vital component of an outboard motor is the lower unit. Although its name seems generic, it houses the propeller, skeg, and anti-ventilation plate. Without the lower unit working properly, you won't be going anywhere with your outboard motor. 

Scheduled service of the lower unit guarantees effective power transmission to the water. General service of the lower unit includes extracting the propeller after a few rides to inspect the prop shaft for errant fishing line. The line can burn and slice through the prop-shaft seal, enabling water to enter the gearcase if you don't.

If this occurs, get the outboard to a service facility as soon as possible to restore the seal since water may quickly destroy the inner workings. Apply a liberal application of new marine oil before reinstalling the propeller.


If you want to move, you need to have a properly proportioned propeller in excellent condition. The classification of the propellers is according to their diameter, pitch, material, and the number of blades.

An essential parameter is pitch, a value that specifies the potential distance of movement. Your prop selection will depend on the type of motor and boat you have, but the idea is to have it reach maximum rpm with wide-open throttle.

Any imperfections on the prop may lead to less than superior results. Thus, look for any missing pieces, dings, or potential bends of the prop. Taking it to a prop shop for repair is your best course of action. 

The knowledge of the ultimate guide of outboard motor care assists you in getting the best return on your investment. Bixby has a wide selection of outboard motors, including a battery-operated outboard motor for your smaller watercraft. Contact us today with any questions you may have, and we'll be happy to help.

The Ultimate Guide to Outboard Motor Care