If you fish a lot, following your outboard motor’s manufacturer guidelines for scheduled outboard maintenance can get expensive. I find it funny that most owner’s manuals use the terms “100-hour service” and “yearly service” interchangeably assuming that that’s how many hours most motors run in a year. If you’re only putting 100 hours or less on your motor each year you probably don’t mind paying a shop $300 or more to service your motor. But if you’re like me and put hundreds of hours on your motor each year, you’re going to save a lot of money by doing the outboard maintenance service yourself.
Servicing your motor is easier than changing the oil in your car or truck and contrary to the rumors floating around “authorized” service centers, doing it yourself will not void your warranty. Before you get started you’re going to need to pick up a few inexpensive tools.
Each time you service your boat you’re going to need to buy an oil filter, a fuel filter and oil. For my outboard, which takes six quarts of oil, this costs about $70. Since I run my boat a lot, I only change the lower unit oil as needed and change my water pump impeller on a yearly basis, so I will be covering how to do that next time.
Before changing the oil you’re going to want to run your motor for a few minutes to get the oil warmed up so it’s easier to drain. I haven’t found an earmuff type motor flusher that works well with my motor so I simply re-purposed my Pelican cooler into a motor flush tank. If you’re using a tank you want to make sure that the water level stays high enough to keep the motor fed. I keep the hose running into mine while the motor is on. Once the motor has run a bit you can get started. I’ve made a video showing what you’ll need to do.
If you’re unsure of which filters you need or how much oil your motor holds, you can usually find all of that information on the manufacturer’s website. In the next article I’ll be covering how to service your lower unit and change out your water pump impeller.