Today's outboards seem to run forever; just hang ‘em on the back and go, right? Not exactly. Technological advances – computerized engine management systems, fuel injection, and such – make current outboards more reliable than ever before.
However, you still need to take an active interest in the health and well being of your outboard, regardless of the outboard brand, in order to make sure it runs efficiently for an extended period of time.
Properly maintaining your outboard is not a difficult task. Your outboard owner’s manual spells out the maintenance and service necessary to ensure that your outboard lives a long, productive life.
Maintenance simply entails showing your outboard a little attention on a regular basis and your owner’s manual explains everything you need to know step-by-step.
You can do most of the upkeep on a Yamaha outboard yourself. Things like flushing the engine with fresh water after using it; changing the engine oil and gearcase lube; inspecting and replacing fuel filters and anodes; applying grease in all the required places; removing the propeller, cleaning and lubricating the propshaft, then reinstalling the prop; all of these and more are well within the capabilities of the do-it-yourself boater.
Obviously some of the more complex jobs are best left to the certified technicians at your local Yamaha dealer, but you can really save money by working on the outboard at home.
Over time, some items on any outboard will wear out or be used up. You’ll need to purchase consumables (filters, spark plugs, lubricants, etc). Try to avoid the temptation of bargain-basement parts from discounters. It’s highly recommended to stick with the engine manufacturer’s recommended brand of lubes, treatments and parts to prevent issues with products from questionable third-party suppliers. For instance, if you’re running a Yamaha, use genuine Yamalube® oils, lubricants, care products and Yamaha accessories.
Remember, you get what you pay for. This isn’t the place to try to save a few dollars and your outboard deserves the best parts available. It will cost more for a tow in the middle of the night than the few extra bucks you pay for the name-brand products.
Speaking of Money…
Whether an outboard’s service is performed at home or at the dealership, the financial responsibility for periodic checkups, parts and labor rests squarely on your shoulders – not on the dealer or outboard manufacturer.
If your boat/outboard needs work, it’s up to you to get it to an authorized service center – even in warranty situations. This is where owning a trailer can come in very handy; most dealerships don’t have extra trailers lying around, or the spare manpower to come pick up your boat for repairs.
Your outboard works hard and doesn’t ask for much in return, except a small amount of maintenance and a bit of service to deliver thousands of hours of fun on the water. Take the initiative and commit to a long-term relationship with your outboard. Y
Maintenance schedules for marine outboards are established using hours of operation to determine when various types of service are due (10 hours, 50 hours, 100 hours, etc), based on the assumption that the “average” boater uses an outboard about 200 hours each year.
How can you tell how many hours you’ve used your outboard? Many of the higher-horsepower outboards are available with digital instruments that tap into the outboards’s computer to display hours. However, if you don’t have digital gauges, a basic hour meter will work just fine.
Install the hour meter in an inconspicuous place in the boat (under the dash is a good spot), and wire it into the “run” side of the ignition switch. The hour meter will count the time when the outboard is running and is an inexpensive way to solve a potentially perplexing situation.
Have you misplaced your owner’s manual? Or are you a hardcore gearhead in need of a service manual? Where do you go for more information? Resources are readily available online at yamaha-motor.com; help is just a click away.