How to Start a Boat Engine After a Long Storage

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At the beginning of boating season, your boat's engine has not run since the end of the previous season. Like any other mechanical device that has remained unused for an extended period of time, it will not reawaken without a bit of extra effort. You must inspect and, if need be, repair the engine's electrical, lubrication and fuel systems to make certain they will perform as expected when you call upon them. Doing so will ensure proper performance and a long service life.

Items you will need

  • Fuel filters

  • Fresh fuel

Re-install and reconnect the boat's batteries. Inspect all of the boat's wiring for evidence of damage or fraying. Inspect the connections to ensure they are tight and undamaged.

Replace all fuel filters.

Fill the fuel tank with freshly purchased fuel. Prime the fuel system by pumping the priming bulb. Inspect the fuel system for evidence of leaks.

Start the motor, let the temperature rise to the normal operating range and inspect the engine for proper operation.


  • Whether you work on your outboard motor on the boat or on a storage stand, remove the propeller nut with a wrench. Slide the thrust hub, propeller and washers from the propeller shaft. Failure to remove a propeller before operating an outboard out of the water during maintenance or long-term storage is an invitation to a propeller-strike injury, which can maim or kill.
  • Never operate your outboard out of the water unless you provide a source of cooling water. Use the motor's flushing port or connect a flushing attachment to a garden hose, placing the attachment over the cooling water inlets. You may also immerse the motor in a motor test tub filled with water so that the cooling water inlets are submerged.