Figuring Out the Outboard

Posted: March 1, 2013  |  Tag: 

By: John Temple

My outboard runs, but after a few minutes it slows down and stops. It restarts right away and idles fine, but as soon as I crank it up, it again runs for a few minutes and then dies. What is the problem?
Depending on your engine, there could be a lot of reasons for a loss of power. Most engines have a shutdown mechanism if the engine overheats. Then, once it cools down, it restarts fine. The first task is to look at the water coming out of the engine. Is the water cooling system working? If there is a little water going through, the engine will run fine, but once you power up there is not enough cooling water, and it shuts down. So just because some water is getting through, don’t be lulled into thinking that all is fine with the water cooling system.

Unfortunately, the rest of the solution — checking the thermostat — isn’t easy. On many outboards, especially smaller ones, thermostats are in the lower unit. Unless you have the tools and know-how to disassemble, diagnose and reassemble the lower unit, it is time to take your outboard to a professional.

The pro will diagnose whether your problem is being caused by the water cooling system. Then, he will take the unit apart and replace the thermostat, inspect everything, clean it out and reassemble it. He will also put in new gear oil (and replace the plugs and flush out any salt water, if you request it). The good news is that you will get your outboard back fully serviced.

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