Quick Maintenance: Outboard Engine Oil Change

Oil is the lifeblood of every motor, and regularly changing it in an outboard motor protects its moving parts and extends the life of the engine.

Outboard motor oil change

Clean, fresh oil lubricates the hundreds of moving parts within the motor and ensures they all work freely with a minimum amount of friction. However, engine oil eventually breaks down and loses its ability to lubricate parts. When this happens, moving parts start to wear out faster. Increased mechanical stresses within the engine from lack of proper lubrication eventually result in part failures and costly repairs.

Outboard engine oil change dipstick

To avoid frequent breakdowns and premature engine failure, change the oil often. Outboard manufacturers recommend that most outboard motors have their oil changed after every 50-100 hours of use. Check your owner’s manual to see how often the oil should be replaced for your engine’s make and model.

Outboard engine maintenance oil change

To replace your outboard’s oil, simply remove the drain bolt and let the old oil drain out, then replace the drain bolt and refill the motor with new oil. Most outboards also have an oil filter that should be replaced at the same time as the oil, so make sure you change that out too.

Why Change Outboard Engine Oil

Oil absorbs heat from the engine and helps it dissipate, which in turn cools the motor. The longer the oil is used, the more it loses its ability to absorb heat effectively. Over time, oil becomes contaminated with thousands of tiny metal particles from the moving parts within the engine. These contaminants wear out the engine, so draining the used oil and replacing it with fresh oil removes these contaminants. 

Finally, draining old oil tells you whether there’s a leak in the outboard. So if the oil comes out milky, it’s an indication that water is mixing with the oil, which means a seal is leaking and needs to be replaced.


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