TLC For Your Outboard: Last but Not Least

by Sherry Popham

This is the final in our series on maintaining your outboard engine.Our focus is going to be on two areas that are frequently overlooked: the power trim and tilt and propellers. POWER TRIM & TILT Yamaha recommends that you service your trim and tilt system after the first 20 hours of operation and then every 100 hours. As important as a properly working system is to the optimal performance of your boat and engine, this should be the minimum standard of maintenance. The ability to trim your outboard up to navigate shallow water or down to get a smoother ride in rough seas can often be taken for granted until you need it and it doesn’t work. A little extra TLC will ensure a longer useful life for this important and expensive component. Proper lubrication of the trim and tilt assembly will help prevent the corrosive effects of our saltwater environment. A screeching sound when you operate the trim will often be your first clue that the metal ram is dry and in need of some marine grease. We recommend YAMALUBE MARINE GREASE and it comes in a handy tube you can keep on the boat for regular use.  Squeeze a little on your fingers and rub it on the tops of the trim rams and their contact points on the bracket pads. Since this grease gets rubbed or washed off with frequent use, this should be done on a regular basis to prevent the friction that occurs when the rams are dry. Over time you will experience corrosion on your trim and tilt unit. Storing the unit fully retracted will help prevent this but that is not always possible. Part of your standard maintenance should be to check the rams for signs of corrosion. When done on a regular basis it should be minimal and easily brushed off. Grease the ram following this to reduce future issues. When allowed to accumulate, corrosion can damage the  seals on the trim cylinders when they retract causing leaks. Occasionally, internal corrosion will cause the unit to lock up. When this happens, you may be able to temporarily alleviate the situation by tapping the motor with the head of a screwdriver in hopes of  knocking some of the corrosion loose however, a trip to your certified mechanic for some serious maintenance is in order. When it is time to change the hydraulic fluid, trim the motor all the way up and then put down the motor safety clip.  Having the transom of the boat as level as possible will ensure the fluid will be as well. The fluid fill screw is located near the top of the trim reservoir.  Remove this and fill with a high quality hydraulic fluid made to withstand the high temps and pressures of the  system. YAMALUBE PERFORMANCE POWER TILT AND TRIM FLUID has the added benefit of being non-foaming reducing the chance of trapping air in the system. Continue filling until it overflows and then trim the motor up and down several times adding fluid as necessary. This process will bleed the air out of the system. When done, replace the fill screw and clean up any excess fluid. Always be alert for leaks when servicing your trim and tilt observing for fluid which is generally burgundy or clear in color. If you are having issues with the proper performance of your unit and you find the fluid is low, then you definitely have a leak. The fluid in the power tilt and trim system is circulated by an electric pump.  If you can hear the pump but the trim is not working chances are good the fluid has leaked out and been replaced with air. Common areas to find evidence of a leak are around the base of the ram or the power tilt and trim motor itself.  Replacement of the leaked fluid is, at best, a temporary fix which may last for awhile if the leak is small. A visit to your certified mechanic is certainly warranted when this occurs as it will not remedy itself.  In the unfortunate event that your engine is stuck in the up or down position, remember that you can release the trim lock by turning the manual trim release screw on the port side of the engine mount and use the motor safety clip to lock it up. PROPS Just as important as maintenance for your engine is the care of your boat prop.  Problems with your prop may result in reduced efficiency and increased fuel consumption and may even cause damage to your engine. It is well worth the investment to have your propeller professionally serviced on an annual basis or anytime after damage has been incurred. Having a spare prop, like a spare tire in your car, is insurance against being stranded and also comes in handy when your prop needs to be serviced or repaired. Regularly inspect your boat propeller for bent blades, nicks and rolled tips. Just like the bottom of your boat, you want to keep your prop free of marine growth as this buildup can significantly reduce your engine’s performance. Grease the propeller shaft with a marine-quality waterproof product before installing the prop and as part of your routine maintenance. If you have an aluminum propeller you should grease the torsion rods inside the hub as well. Remember that ‘stainless’ is not ‘stain-free’ and use a spray on corrosion guard product to reduce discoloration and rust. Finally, worn boat prop blades should be replaced as they may cause damage to your engine by allowing acceleration beyond the manufacturer’s recommended range. TLC PAYOFF Performing these simple maintenance tasks can prevent expensive repairs and leave you with more time and money to enjoy the beautiful Keys by boat.

Sherry Popham
Sherry Popham


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