How to Get an Outboard Motor Ready for Spring

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You don't want to spend your first outing of the season stranded on the water because your engine has died. That leads to the embarrassment of requiring a tow back to the marina, a miserable experience that tells other boaters you didn't fit your boat out properly. A proper fitting out, a large part of which is knowing how to get your outboard motor ready for spring, helps you avoid this stigma. Fitting out your outboard is a fairly straightforward process that requires basic tools and materials.

Items you will need

  • Inline fuel filters

  • Fuel cartridges

  • Fresh fuel

  • Garden hose

  • Flushing attachment

Replace the impeller in the water pump, if you did not do this when you prepared your motor for winter storage. Most manufacturers' maintenance schedules require at least a yearly inspection. A pump rebuild kit will cost less than a towing service, which can amount to "the reasonable cost of salvage."

Inspect your boat for rodent feces, even if your boat was stored inside, before you inspect the wiring and all electrical connections. If you find them, look closely for damaged insulation on every wire. Rodents love insulation, whether as a snack or as insulation for their own nests.

Reconnect the oil line on two-stroke engines with a remote oil tank. Prime the motor lubrication system to ensure that the system will work correctly once you start the motor.

Replace inline fuel filters and change the fuel filter cartridges, if you did not do so before storing your motor for the winter. Fill the tank with fresh fuel if your motor has been unused for more than a single off-season. Even treated fuel breaks down over time, and stale fuel is one of the reasons engines won't start or perform properly, even if they are well-maintained otherwise. Pump the fuel priming bulb and check every line and connection for leaks. Replace leaky connections and lines before turning on the ignition.

Flush the motor, according to the specific instructions for your motor. Check the cooling and electrical systems while the motor is running during the flushing process.


  • If you didn't remove the motor's propeller before storage, take it off before you start it to test it. While you are testing, if your motor is in place, you -- or those near and dear to you -- run the risk of a propeller strike injury.


  • Whether you connect a garden hose directly to your motor or use a hose attached to a flushing attachment spread across your motor's cooling water intakes, allow the motor to come up to its normal operating temperature as you test its systems.