Maintenance: Infrequent Used Motors

from Yamaha On Board Magazine - October 2018 / Volume 8


We all know how important it is to care for an outboard motor after use to ensure a long, reliable, and enjoyable experience with a boat and motor package.  Regular Maintenance is part of properly caring for any outboard motor.

When purchasing a motor, a customer should be informed of the 20-hour service interval and subsequent maintenance at 100 hours or 12-month intervals, which come first.  For many customers, the important target will be 12 months, and preferably before putting their boat into offseason storage, even if it hasn't reached 100 hours.

Why is service needed every 12 months even though it might take several years to reach the specified 100 hours?  Annual service, even if a motor is used far less than 100 hours, reduces the harmful effects caused by the normal deterioration that occurs to motor oil, gear lube, water pump impellers, and other components once they are used.  It also provides an opportunity to find and correct issues caused by unusual events, such as overheating and impacts, before they cause major problems.

For example, motor oil becomes acidic during normal use as it becomes contaminated with the by-products of the combustion process.  Gear lube can be contaminated with water at any time if the prop shaft seals are damaged by fishing line.  While both Yamaha and other quality brands of motor oil and gear lube are designed to minimize the effects of acidity and water on internal components, postponing service past 12 months and increases the likelihood there will eventually be internal damage.  Oil and gear lube changes at the prescribed intervals will minimize the effects of the contamination.  Plus, if impending major issues are found and corrected during the offseason, the boat will be ready to go when the next boating season starts.

Low hours of use typically mean long periods between uses.  It's likely these same customers are not considering the harmful effects age is having on their gasoline and fuel systems.  Properly treating the gasoline deterioration and future fuel system issues the next time the boat is used.

The customers who are putting minimal hours on their boats each year often are the ones who have limited time available to use them.  Even a small problem caused by lack of regular maintenance can mean they will miss the few days or weeks they have to use their boats.  To avoid the disappointment of not having their boats ready and the expense of major repairs, educate your customers on the importance of following the maintenance schedule prescribed in the owner’s manual.   The free Yamaha Maintenance Matters booklet is a great resource to help with customer education.