TLC For Your Outboard

by Sherry Popham

100 Hour Service

Last month we talked about daily checks that improve your outboard engine’s performance and longevity.  This month we are going to focus on the importance of the “100 Hour Service” which is one of the ‘usage triggered’ maintenance intervals. The maintenance schedule for most 4-stroke outboards is 100 hours or 1 year, whichever comes first. You should always refer to the operation and maintenance manual for your 4-stroke for the recommended service interval specific to your engine. Keep in mind that any of these time frames are based upon “typical” or “average” use. If your normal operating conditions are unusual (idling or operating at wide open throttle  for long periods or carrying a heavy load like tanks and people for example) you should consider that more frequent servicing may be appropriate, particularly the changing of your engine oil and gear lube. It’s easy, especially if you use your boat frequently, to let this important maintenance slide. However, this is one of the key factors you control which can increase the life of your outboard. Those boaters that take the approach “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” eventually pay with ruined plans for a day on the water or even worse, a large repair bill. Probably half of the outboard repairs we perform have to do with the owner’s failure to perform preventative maintenance on their engine. So let’s talk about what needs to be done and whether you should consider doing it yourself or having your certified mechanic perform the task. To begin with, use original manufacturer’s parts for all of your service needs.  More than likely you did a lot of research before buying your engine and you feel good about your purchase.  Why would you then use an aftermarket part to take care of your investment? As with Yamaha, most warranties are predicated on your use of their parts even if aftermarkets are available and fit. The designers and engineers of your outboard have played a key role in the development of all of your engine brand care products. They have proprietary knowledge that is incorporated in the design and content of all parts and lubes. Thus, nothing will work as effectively to enhance your outboards performance and extend its life span. The following chart, showing the tasks that need to be performed at 100 hours/1year intervals, has been compiled from Yamaha’s current four-stroke owner’s manuals. wc-FM17 As you see, many of the items can be performed by the consumer without voiding your Yamaha warranty.  However, remember that, like new cars, late model outboards are not designed with owner maintenance in mind.  Trained technicians can often spot problems before they are apparent to the ‘do it yourself’ consumer. New technologies allow for better performance, fuel economy and reduced emissions but they don’t lend themselves to backyard maintenance like the older models did. Previously I mentioned that about half of the outboard service work we see is from failure to perform maintenance. In contrast, other owners generate more business for our service department by way of their efforts to perform their own service and repairs. Even if you do complete the more straightforward tasks shown above, asking the service department to have the tech look everything over when carrying out the dealer tasks can provide you with some peace of mind. In closing, last month we talked about the importance of installing an inexpensive hour meter to insure that maintenance intervals are conducted in a timely fashion.  Routine 100 hour services are key but you should be aware that most engine manufacturers cite additional action items when the engine reaches the 300, 500 and 1000 hour marks on your hour meter. Advise your Service Department of the total hours on the engine when you make an appointment for service as this will allow for the key additional checks to be estimated and performed.  Next month we will wrap up our TLC for your outboard series with tips on caring for your trim and tilt, electrical systems, props and storage. Meanwhile, enjoy boating in paradise!

Sherry Popham
Sherry Popham


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