Summer Outboard Blues

Now it’s just sitting there; You drained the fuel from the outboard to store your boat over the winter, and it started like a champ and ran strong first trip out …for 30 minutes, but on the way back it started acting up, and it’s just getting to the start of the summer. What’s wrong with your motor and is there anything you can do about it?

First of all, you’re not the only one. This happens to a lot of boaters, and there could be several factors at cause for this but let’s start where you can. I spoke with my boat mechanic Chris at SunCoast Marine in LaMarque, Texas about the issue, what causes it, and if there is anything you can do on your own to get you back on the water.

“Tobin, there are a couple of culprits that are typically the source for this. No. 1 would be condensation in the fuel. If the motor was stored over the winter correctly, there probably won’t be any corrosion issues in the motor but that condensation in the fuel is going to make the outboard not perform well. It could cause corrosion if its not dealt with immediately and someone gets frustrated or mad and just lets the boat and motor sit the rest of the summer because they think something major is wrong. First, immediately empty the fuel tank, flush the fuel lines, and replace the water separator filter. Unhook the fuel line off the fuel filter on the outboard; Fill up with fresh fuel in the tank and pump the fresh fuel, unrestricted, until it reaches the the end of the hose and fresh fuel comes out. Make sure to properly capture and dispose of old fuel. This will get fresh fuel right to the motor.”

I asked Chris what else could someone do if that doesn’t solve the issue, here’s what he said. “…the next step is to change out the filters on the motor. Fuel filters are inexpensive and typically easy to replace. If ethanol sits in fuel lines that aren’t ethanol resistant for several months then it can extract impurities in the rubber and break down the line. All those contaminates and particles can foul the fuel filter and if it gets bad enough can foul ports, plugs, pumps, and injectors. The second step is replacing the filters that you can. Re-connect the line to the new fuel filter and push some fresh fuel until the bulb gets tight and tun the motor over to see if you can get back on the water”.

If that doesn’t solve the issues, you may be looking at cleaning ports, replacing the fuel pumps, and injectors. The main thing to do is to get the bad fuel and moisture out of the motor so it doesn’t cause a bigger issue, then go from there in short order.

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