Maintenance / POSTED 11-Sep-2023

Boat Ownership Requires Active Participation

Follow these tips to make sure your outboard always delivers top-notch performance

Buying a boat is exciting, fun and, just like any other investment, requires owner attention to deliver great experiences on the water. Outboard power plays a major role in every trip. As a boat owner there are several things you need to do to ensure you get the best performance every time. Yamaha Marine Technical Support Manager John Wilkinson shares his top eight tips for keeping your outboard in great shape.

1. Build a relationship with your local dealer. Your boat’s maintenance needs to have a direct relationship with the region and areas in which you plan to boat. Maintenance for an outboard used in saltwater can look a lot different than maintenance for a boat used in freshwater. Local marine dealerships have a deep understanding of the regional maintenance needs and can be your best resource when it comes to specific actions you need to take to maintain optimal outboard performance. Get to know the team at your local dealership and rely on them to guide you – it’s an important relationship to cultivate.

2. Refer to 
The Yamaha outboard website,, features pages exclusively dedicated to outboard maintenance. The Maintenance Matters section serves as a guide for increasing
the longevity of your outboard. The tips featured in this section compliment the Yamaha Owner’s Manual and serves as a quick-reference general guidelines for simple maintenance protocols. Remember, the information here applies to a broader outboard scope. It’s still very important to consider regional and environmental effects on your outboard.  

3. Keep it clean. So many issues can be avoided by simply keeping your outboard clean. If your outboard is clean, it’s much easier to identify issues from corrosion to battery connections. Make sure to keep your wax where it belongs and double check to make sure your covers are doing their job. Defective covers offer great places for critters to nest. If you see traces of animal life, address it immediately before you have a larger problem. Another way to keep an eye on a possible animal aboard is to install Siren Pro 3 which has a motion sensor to help you detect suspicious movement. Critters can definitely cause major issues. Read more about this owner’s experience with muskrats on his pontoon.  

It’s also critical that your outboard and boat get dry. This is a step that is often overlooked. When you cover areas that are wet, you invite mold and mildew which can quickly cause issues. 

Finally, always remember to perform a freshwater flush on your outboard if you have been boating in a saltwater environment. This Yamaha Boater’s Log details the steps you should take to successfully perform this simple maintenance task. 

4. Maintain fuel integrity. When milk goes bad, you don’t expect to add good milk to the spoiled milk and expect it to be ok, right? The same rule applies to fuel in your outboard.  You can’t put high-test fuel on top of old fuel - it must stay fresh. It’s also important for boaters to learn to change a fuel filter on the fly if necessary. If you are on the water and you feel like the motor misses, the difference between the time when the motor misses and when the motor shuts down can be just a few miles. However, if you know how to change the filter on the water, you can save yourself a great deal of trouble. Ask your dealer if you can watch as they change your fuel filter next time so you can learn to do it yourself if you needed. Be prepared and make sure you have a filter and fuel-proof container for drainage on board. In many cases, a new filter installed on the water can save
the day. 

5. Run the boat wide open. This is a basic “finding things quickly” tip. If you’re comfortable, you should run your boat at wide open throttle every time you take it out on the water. Why? It’s a great indicator of any issue the outboard may have. If you take your boat out 10 times and it turns 6,000 rpm with no problem and on the 11th trip it is down on power, that’s an indicator you need to take it to your trusted Yamaha Marine dealership to get it checked. So, remember, if you feel comfortable and safe, push your outboard up at least one time during each trip to make sure all systems are functioning well.

6. Choose the right fluids. If you are running a Yamaha outboard, do not use an off-brand fluid. Stick with Yamalube products for engine oil, your lower unit and trim and tilt. Yamaha’s fluids exceed recommendations and are designed to give the motor the longest life it can have. If you skimp on these products, you are really asking for potential issues in
the future.  

7. Talk to other boaters. Boating is a culture. Ask others what works and doesn’t work for them. Meet the other boaters in your area and you will be surprised how much you can learn. Just remember, always verify maintenance procedures with your trusted Yamaha Marine dealer. 

8. Use your boat. That’s why you bought it! Boats that sit for too long tend to acquire issues. Take your boat out on the water, take your friends out. Learn the ins and outs about your boat and outboard by becoming an active owner. Use your boat frequently and you will get the most out of it every time.

For more maintenance tips, visit the Yamaha Maintenance Matters page.

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