How to Remove a Drive Shaft From a Lower Unit

by Will Charpentier

Your outboard motor has three distinct parts: a power head, which is the gasoline engine that powers the outboard motor; the exhaust housing that protrudes downward from the power head, wrapping around the exhaust system and the driveshaft; and the lower unit. You have to slide the lower unit from the motor to remove the driveshaft since the lower unit -- where the propeller, gear case and driveshaft are found -- is where the driveshaft is secured.

Take out the bolts that connect the lower unit to the exhaust housing with a socket wrench. Slide the lower unit straight down and off the outboard. Set the lower unit upright in a bench vise.

Remove the four bolts holding the water pump together from the water pump housing with a socket wrench. Slide the impeller from the lower unit and slide them up and off the driveshaft. Pull the impeller plate off the lower unit and slip it off the driveshaft.

Remove the bearing carrier retaining bolts. Insert two small pry bars under the lip of the bearing carrier, and gently pry the housing and propeller shaft out of the lower unit as an assembly.

Pull the shift rod retainer from the top of the lower unit and pull the shift rod out of the lower unit.

Locate the pry tabs where the housing meets the lower unit and use a small pry bar to loosen the fit between the housing and the lower unit. Pull the driveshaft upward, removing the bearing housing, driveshaft and retaining ring.

Items you will need

  • Bench vise
  • Socket wrench
  • 2 small pry bars


  • "Mercury/Mariner Outboards, 1990-2000 (Seloc Marine Manuals)"; Seloc; 2000
  • "Johnson/Evinrude Outboards, 1990-2001 (Seloc Marine Manuals)"; Seloc; 2005

About the Author

Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.