PERFECT CHOICE: The Honda BF20 outboard 4-stroke engine
PERFECT CHOICE: The Honda BF20 outboard 4-stroke engine CONTRIBUTED

Keep outboard well serviced

YOU don't have to be certified master mechanic like Kerry to properly care for an outboard.

First and foremost become acquainted with your user manual, even if you have owned an outboard before.

Technology changes at an ever increasing pace, so read the book.

There is nothing worse than a breakdown, especially if weather is coming in, if you are offshore or in a shipping lane.

Familiarising yourself with the operation and nomenclature of your motor may save you some headaches later on.

Annual check

Everyone operating a boat should have their outboard serviced annually by a qualified mechanic.

Seals and impellers can degrade over time and new ethanol fuel blends can render an outboard useless in a matter of weeks.

Warning alarms, spark plugs and wires, upper and lower unit oil, and any other critical items your qualified mechanic and manufacturer recommend should be inspected yearly.

Don't wait until the last minute before you go boating either.

Chances are you're not the only one trying to get out on the water or trying to get your outboard serviced before the weekend.

Flushing out your outboard

Always flush your motor after using it even if it was only used in freshwater.

Flushing attachments are more and more frequently found on the new four-stroke-motors. We don't recommended using these as they don't allow for a full system flush.

The old school ear muffs or flushing attachment fits nearly all motors with or without built-in flushing systems and with the addition of a garden hose complete the package.

Allow 10 minutes on the ear muffs so that the engine gets hot enough to open up the thermostat and flush the full system.

You can tell when the thermostat opens as the water flow from the tell tale gets stronger if it's all working correctly.

This is a must after every outing.

Cooling discharge

Always check for cooling water discharge out of the tell tale when you start your motor.

If you don't see any water being discharged from under the cowling or "peeing", as I hear so often, shut down the motor and figure out the cause.

Sometimes it's debris or vegetation covering the intake, sand in the water passages; other times it's a bad impeller.

Today's modern impellers are manufactured to extremely tight tolerances out of space age neoprene derivatives, but they aren't indestructible.

An annual check will tell you whether or not you need to replace your impeller, or the rate of flow from the tell tale outflow pipe (or lack thereof).

Remember if the motor hasn't been run in several months the impeller can dry out and become brittle thus making it more apt to break apart when run.

Fresh fuel

Always use fresh fuel, every single time.

Fuel that is left in your tank can begin breaking down in days to weeks.

The new fuels available at your local service station are less efficient and leave unburned contaminants in your motor.

Always use ethanol-free fuel from a reputable supplier.

It's a good idea to disconnect the fuel line and run the motor out of fuel if it isn't going to be run for any period of time longer than a few days (carburetted motors only; never run a fuel injected motor dry).

If you don't intend to use the motor for more than a week or two, use a fuel stabilising additive such as Mercury Fuel stabiliser which we carry at Bay City Marine.

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