Spring outboard maintenance
What to do before taking the boat out to launch
In the water
7. Secure the engine to the transom, ensuring the engine mounting clamps are tight. It’s a good idea to have a safety line, chain, or cable fastening the engine to the boat as well.
8. Install the freshly charged battery, if your engine uses one, making sure terminals are clean and the clamps are tight.
9. Open the vent on your fuel tank and hook up the fuel line, checking for leaks as you squeeze the bulb and prime the line.
10. Start the engine. Don’t be alarmed by white clouds of smoke at start-up; they’ll dissipate as the fogging oil burns off (you did spray that in last fall, didn’t you?).
11. With the engine running at a fast idle, check for a solid stream of cooling water outflow. Weak (dribbling) or absent discharge means the water intakes or outlets are blocked. Shut down and check. If the problem continues, it’s likely the impeller is damaged. The impeller, located in the lower unit, should be replaced at least every four to five seasons as it will crack and fail with age and use, leading to an overheated engine and catastrophic (i.e., expensive) results. This is a job for your dealer but make it a habit to glance back to check the telltale water flow from your engine on a regular (every use) basis.
12. Test drive. Check for smooth steering, shifting, and acceleration. Rough running or overheating requires a review of your work. If you stuck to the plan but still have problems, make an appointment with the pros.
This article was originally published on May 15, 2007