What It Costs to Maintain an Outboard Motor
Outboard motors operate in a hostile environment, since water isn’t friendly to many of the components. That means a lot of work goes into maintaining an outboard.
It’s of the utmost importance to stay on top of keeping the outboard healthy with engine and gearcase oil changes, cooling system maintenance and so on. Here are some things you’ll need to factor in when calculating the cost of maintaining an outboard engine.
NOTE: Cost estimates in this article are ballpark figures current as of 2021.
Outboard Maintenance Costs
This simple routine maintenance task is essential to keeping the engine clean and lubricated. The schedule for engine oil changes varies depending on the outboard manufacturer, but plan for it after every 50-100 hours of use.
For a typical 150HP outboard, you’ll likely pay a mechanic between $160-$190 for an oil change when you factor in supplies and labor. On the other hand, there’s the do-it-yourself option, and the oil filter runs between $8-$20 dollars, depending on the make. One quart of oil costs about $5-$10, so calculate how many quarts your motor takes plus the cost of the oil filter.
Gearcase Lube Change
A lower unit oil (or gearcase lube) change is considerably cheaper than an oil change, whether you pay someone to do it for you or you do it yourself.
Gearcase fluid should be changed after every 100 hours of use. At the dealership, gearcase lube costs about $30-$40. However, if you do it yourself, 1 quart of gearcase lube will cost you about $10-$12 and last for several lube jobs, since it doesn’t take much to refill the lower unit. There’s a startup cost, so to speak: many units require a model-specific pump that threads onto the fill opening to pump in the gearcase fluid, which on average costs about $10.
A water pump rebuild costs about $300-$400, but you can get a water pump repair kit for about $30-$60 and do it yourself. It’s not all that difficult: you just need to remove the lower unit and use some basic hand tools to replace the water pump on your outboard.
Those are some basic expenses you can expect to pay with routine maintenance, and these figures vary depending on where you are and what type of boat and outboard you run. You can count on every 100 hours changing the oil and gearcase lube, and the impeller replacement or water pump replacement at every 200 hours of use.
Doing these maintenance tasks yourself will save you a ton of money. You might also find it easier to keep up with the maintenance if you master these tasks and don’t have to pay someone else a lot more in parts and labor to do it for you every time.