So after searching and researching you figured out which outboard is best for you and there she sits on the transom of your boat gleaming in the sunlight. She has been quite an investment and she will serve you well, but only if you take good care of her.
Today’s new four-stroke outboards are complex engines that have been designed for hours of trouble-free use but they still require maintenance and care to keep them going. There are a few things you can do that will keep you out on the water, your new motor out of the repair shop and can save your wallet from costly repairs.
The first and most important step in maintaining your new motor is to read the owner’s manual
By doing so, following the maintenance schedule and adhering to recommended fluids, parts and schedules you will ensure a long life for your motor. Adherence to the outboard motor maintenance recommendations will also help should you need to file a warranty claim. Failure to complete the required maintenance will give manufacturers the ability to back out of a warranty claim and leave you holding a costly repair bill. The fact is that new four-stroke motors are not the same motors of yesteryear and they all have very specific maintenance requirements and suggestions from the manufacturer.
Do you have to “Break In” a New Outboard Motor?
Each engine manufacturer has, for example, specific break-in periods in which it tells you what RPM range to run the motors and for what lengths of time, in order to avoid damage to the internal components of a new motor. It also will recommend the first change of fluids (usually after a few hours of initial operation). You don’t want to get on the water on the first day and run flat out all day because serious damage to the motor may result. The fact is you shouldn’t throttle up until you have followed the break-in time frame recommended by the manufacturer.
Maintenance service such as post break-in fluid changes and required valve adjustments should always be followed. The motor may not appear to need this work but if you were to have a failure that would be covered in a warranty situation you may not be able to file a claim because the maintenance schedule required by the manufacturer was not followed. Besides, this work will improve the engine’s performance and aid in its longevity.
One of the most debated outboard motor maintenance issues for new four-strokes is what kind of oil to run in them.
Again, referring to the engine manual would be the safest bet. It will clearly state which oil is recommended and what viscosity to use. If you decide not to go with the manufacturer’s brand oil (which might not be a good idea until the warranty expires) then oil should be selected that has the same viscosity and the same ratings as the recommended oil.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) has developed a rating for acceptable oil to be used in marine four-stroke engines. Known as FC-W this rating assures that the oil is certified by independent testers for the NMMA and has passed a series of tests. These include tests for corrosion, viscosity, filter plugging, foaming, aeration and a 100-hour general performance engine test. Some manufacturers might even recommend using mineral-based oil as opposed to synthetic oil, so again it’s imperative to check manufacturer’s recommendations. It is also important not to mix synthetic and mineral-based oil as slugging can occur with catastrophic results. If changing between oil types it is always a good idea to fully drain and then refill with the new oil.
In order to keep you motor humming it is critical to follow manufacturer’s recommendations. Reading the manual and following fluid recommendations will prolong your motor’s life and assure your warranty remains intact. After all, who knows their motors better than the folks who designed and built them?