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Outboard Motor Tuning Tips

Keeping an outboard motor tuned up can enhance the boating experience. A well-tuned engine can provide easy cranking, a smooth idle and optimal power and acceleration. Modern technology has made tuning an outboard motor a simpler process, so the majority of the tuning work can be performed by a boater with moderate mechanical skills.

Battery Maintenance

A starting battery with low voltage can result in slow cranking. Boats that sit idle for a period of weeks or months should be periodically charged to provide ample voltage for starting; battery replacement is recommended for batteries that are more than three to four years old and have not been maintained during that time frame. You should also clean the battery posts of corrosion that can pull down voltage with battery cleaner and a brush that can be purchased at an auto parts store. A coat of grease can be applied to the battery posts to minimize the buildup of corrosion, The top of the battery should be periodically washed to support ample voltage. In keeping a battery maintained it is also important to make sure the battery is full of water. Most batteries, unless nonmaintenance, have tabs on top of them that can be pried off with a screwdriver to access the water.

Carburetor Maintenance

In tuning an outboards motor carburetor, maintenance should be performed to ensure airflow into the carburetor is unrestricted. Spray the metal filter component of the carburetor with a profuse stream of carburetor cleaning solution. Work from the inside out to move debris away from the engine. Using a cleaning solution removes contaminants such as oil and varnish and any other contaminating substance. After spraying the metal filter on a carburetor, the inside of the carburetor and other components should be sprayed with the solution as well to take off gum and varnish buildup. In finishing, relubricate moving parts on the carburetor after cleaning.


Carbon buildup can hamper the performance of an outboard engine. Carbon buildup is caused primarily by two main factors: cheap fuel and inferior two-stroke oil. Both can be easily fixed. The quickest solution is to let the outboard run until warm and at that point shoot an internal engine cleaning solution into the intake. Closely follow the directions that come with the solution. To prevent carbon buildup, never use 87 octane gas, or you can use a carbon-fighting fuel additive and TCW-III oil for engines lubrication.