Off-season Outboard Care

Posted: October 1, 2013  |  Tag: Miscellaneous

By: John Temple

We keep our boat in salt water. I worry about our skiff’s outboard getting salt throughout the cooling system and crystallizing. What’s the best way deal with this issue? How often do we need to run the outboard? How do we care for it during the off-season?
Many boaters contend with these problems. An outboard needs to be run periodically, at least every couple of months. If the outboard can be removed easily, run it in a tub of fresh water. If that is not possible, take the skiff out for a run periodically.

You didn’t ask, but fuel is extremely important. Use only marine gas, as automotive fuel often contains ethanol, which will precipitate water in time, leading to rust on the internal parts of the carburetor.

If you run your outboard and know it will sit for a few weeks or more, you should flush it with fresh water. There are many flushing kits you can purchase. On our 15 hp Mercury outboard, we use a device that is yellow with black rubber cups. The instructions say to remove the propeller, but I have found that I can slide the device in front of the prop. Mercury used to make a better device, but it is no longer available. Whatever the make of your outboard, try to get a flushing device that is easy to use, because the more difficult it is — having to remove the prop, for example — the less likely you are to flush the outboard. That’s just human nature.

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