Frequently Asked Questions

Save Time – Check Here First

Outboard Storage

Question:

The oil I used to purchase is not available or has a different label. What should I do?

Answer:

Oil recommendations can be found in the Operation, Maintenance & Warranty manual.  If you have questions on the currently offered Mercury or Quicksilver oils and lubricants, consult with your authorized Mercury dealer or contact Mercury customer service to ensure maximum protection for your outboard.

Question:

Is an additive available that can prevent phase separation?

Answer:

There is no practical additive that can prevent phase separation from occurring. The only practical solution is to keep water from accumulating in the tank in the first place.

Question:

Should I add an additional fine-micron filter to the system to prevent debris from entering the engine?

Answer:

The addition of another filter to the system will create another possible flow restriction that can starve the engine of fuel. Mercury already provides the appropriate level of filtration to protect the engine from debris.

Question:

Are older fuel lines prone to failure from ethanol-based fuels? What about gaskets?

Answer:

During the 1980s, many rubber components for use in fuel systems were developed to withstand exposure to fuels containing ethanol. If rubber components in a fuel system are suspected to be of this vintage or older it may be advisable to replace them with newer ethanol-safe components before using fuels containing ethanol. Check with the manufacturer for advice or frequently inspect these fuel-system components for signs of swelling or deterioration and replace if problems are noted.

Question:

How can a marina prepare for the change from MTBE to ethanol as the fuel oxygenate?

Answer:

Check with the manufacturer to make certain the tank and lines won't experience problems with ethanol. Inspect the tank for water and, if present, pump out all water and thoroughly clean the tank. Install ethanol-compatible filters. The tank should be less than 20 percent full before adding the first load of fuel with ethanol.

This will help avoid difficulties of dealing with and selling fuel that is a mixture of two different fuel blends to a boater who may have a third blend in the tank. And the marina is dealing with larger stationary tanks that will not allow the two different blends to mix very easily. Ethanol and MTBE should be compatible with each other chemically, but different amounts are used for oxygenation and octane adjustment purposes, and having a tank with two different chemical compounds floating around trying to redistribute could produce unpredictable results. With a tank containing less than 20 percent fuel to begin with, there will be less potential for stratification or other unexpected behavior to enter into the picture. This is consistent with typical practice in the oil and fuel industry and is intended to minimize interaction between blends with different chemical content. It is critical that marinas know their tanks are free from water.

Question:

What should be done when storing boats with ethanol-blended fuels for extended periods?

Answer:

Follow the instructions for normal storage preparation found in the Operation, Maintenance & Warranty manual. When preparing to store a boat for extended periods of two months or more, it is best to completely remove all fuel from the tank. If it is difficult or not possible to remove the fuel, maintaining a full tank of fuel with a fuel stabilizer added to provide fuel stability and corrosion protection is recommended. It is best to add the stabilizer and fuel treatment to the tank at the recommended dosage, run the engine for 10 minutes to allow the system to be cleaned, shut off the fuel valve to interrupt the fuel supply and allow the engine to run until it stops, and top off the tank until it’s full to reduce the amount of exchange with the air that might bring in condensation. Do not cap the tank vent and do not fill with fuel to the point of overflowing. Some extra space should be maintained in the tank to allow for expansion and contraction of the fuel with temperature changes. A partially full tank is not recommended because the void space above the fuel allows air movement that can bring in water through condensation as the air temperature moves up and down. This condensation could potentially become a problem.

Mercury Marine Quickstor can help maintain fuel systems in storage. Quickstor contains oxidation inhibitors to reduce oxidation and gum formation, metal-chelating agents to protect metal components from corrosion, and water-absorbing agents to reduce the presence of free water. 

Question:

My dealer is recommending that I shrink wrap my boat before storage, are there any items affecting my engine that I should be concerned about?

Answer:

Shrink wrap is a very effective method of protecting the boat during periods of storage; however, it is very important to ventilate the hull. Even in the driest conditions, without ventilation, the plastic cover will trap moisture. This moisture can create rust on some metal components, corrosion on others and mold/mildew on the carpet and upholstery. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for ventilation.

Question:

Can ethanol-blended fuels affect the performance of traditional carbureted two-stroke outboards?

Answer:

Two-stroke outboards should experience little or no decrease in performance due to gasoline fuels containing up to 10-percent ethanol when operated according to Mercury's standard recommendations. When gasoline with ethanol is used for the first time after a fuel changeover from MTBE, the tank must be completely free of water prior to introduction of gasoline with ethanol. Otherwise, phase separation could occur that could cause filter plugging or damage to the engine. (It is probably better for a boat owner to fill the fuel tanks with ethanol fuel for the first time when the tank is low on fuel, but that is not critical. There should be no difficulties if the tank is clean and free from water. If the tank is not free from water, a partial load of fuel will more easily phase separate because with less ethanol in place it takes less water to cause phase separation. The important thing for boaters to concern themselves with is the presence of water in their tanks.)

If an engine is a 1990 or older model, frequent inspections of all fuel-system components are advised to identify any signs of leakage, softening, hardening, swelling or corrosion. If any sign of leakage or deterioration is observed, replacement of the affected components is required before further operation.

Question:

How does ethanol affect my fiberglass fuel tank?

Answer:

Fiberglass tanks manufactured prior to 1991 may not be compatible with gasoline containing ethanol. It has been reported that, in the presence of ethanol, some resins may be drawn out of fiberglass and carried into the engine where severe damage could occur. If an older fiberglass tank is used, check with the manufacturer to determine if gasoline with ethanol can be safely used.

Question:

What should I look for when draining my gear lube?

Answer:

Inspect gear lubricant for metal particles (lubricant will have a 'metal flake' appearance). Drain lube into a clean pan/container. The presence of fine metal particles (resembling powder) in the gear lube indicates normal wear. The presence of metal chips in the gear lube indicates the need for gear housing disassembly and component inspection by an authorized dealer.

Note color of gear lubricant when draining. If the color is white or cream it MAY indicate the presence of water in lubricant. Gear lubricant which has been drained from a gear case recently in operation will have a yellowish color due to lubricant agitation/aeration. Gear lube which is mixed with assembly lubricant (Special Lube 101 or 2-4-C) will also be creamy white in color. This is normal and should not be confused with the presence of water. If water is suspected to be present in the gearcase, a pressure check of the gearcase should be completed by an authorized dealer. Pouring a portion of the gear lubricant into a glass jar and allowing the lubricant to settle will allow any water in the lube to separate and settle to the bottom of the jar.

The presence of water in gear lubricant indicates the need for inspection by an authorized dealer. The dealer will disassemble the gear housing and inspect the oil seals, seal surfaces, O-rings, water pump gaskets, as well as the gear housing components for damage.

Question:

Ethanol is replacing MTBE in my region - what should I do?

Answer:

Before gasoline with ethanol is introduced to your fuel tank, ask your boat manufacturer if any special precautions should be considered with the use of fuel containing ethanol. Check for the presence of water in the fuel tank. If any is found, remove all water and dry the tank completely. As a precaution, it is advisable to carry a few extra filters in case filter plugging becomes a problem during boating.

Question:

What is the purpose of using Storage Seal in my outboard engine?

Answer:

Storage Seal Rust Inhibitor is a blend of corrosion-inhibiting additives designed to coat engine components during engine storage to reduce the formation of surface rust. Use Storage Seal Rust Inhibitor as directed in your Operation, Maintenance & Warranty manual, following the directions on the container.

Consult your Operation, Maintenance & Warranty manual for your specific engine. 

Question:

How can I prevent the propeller from sticking onto the shaft?

Answer:

We recommend a liberal coat of one of the following Mercury Precision or Quicksilver Marine Lubricants on the propeller shaft: Special Lubricant 101, 2-4-C Marine Lubricant, or Anti-Corrosion Grease. These lubricants are available from any authorized Mercury Marine dealer.

Note: Always use the correct mounting hardware and torque the propeller nut to the correct specifications. Verify the propeller tightness after 20 hours of operation. DO NOT operate the boat with a loose propeller.

Question:

Are there any additives that can allow the phase-separated mixture to remix when added to the fuel tank?

Answer:

No, the only way to avoid further problems is to remove the water, dispose of the depleted fuel, clean the tank and start with a fresh, dry load of fuel.

Question:

Is there a simple solution to water condensation in the tank as a result of ethanol?

Answer:

It is best to maintain a full tank of fuel when the engine is not in use. This will reduce the void space above the fuel and will reduce the flow of air in and out of the tank with changes in temperature. This will reduce condensation on the internal walls of the tank and will limit exposure of the ethanol in the fuel to humidity and condensation.

Question:

What should I do to prepare my outboard engine for out-of-season storage or prolonged storage?

Answer:

The major consideration in preparing your outboard for storage is to protect it from rust, corrosion, and damage caused by freezing water that may be trapped in the engine. We recommend taking your engine to an authorized Mercury dealer to perform the work. Damage from improper storage procedures is not covered under the Mercury Marine limited warranty policy. If you choose to perform the storage procedure, follow the storage procedures outlined in your Operation, Maintenance & Warranty manual.

Question:

Where do I find maintenance and lubrication information for my engine?

Answer:

The Operation, Maintenance & Warranty manual outlines the typical maintenance and lubrication items. If your manual is missing or damaged, please order online or through any authorized Mercury dealer. Please have your outboard or sterndrive serial number before placing the order.

For Mercury outboards, the serial number label is located on the transom bracket.

You can locate the MerCruiser serial number label on either the side of the engine or on top of the flame arrester cover.

Question:

Can I leave my lower unit empty of lubricant over the winter?

Answer:

We do not recommend leaving a lower unit empty during storage periods. An empty oil cavity may allow moisture to collect on the gears, bearings and shafts. Rust will form when the moisture reacts with the air, damaging the internal components.

Note: If water was present when draining the gear oil, the lower unit should be inspected by an authorized dealer.

Click here for tips on winterizing.

Question:

Can I start my engine momentarily out of the water?

Answer:

No. NEVER start or run your outboard without water circulating through the cooling water intake in the gear case. Cooling water prevents damage to the water pump (running dry) and overheating of the engine.

Question:

I accidentally reversed the battery connections when I reinstalled the battery. What potential damage could I have caused?

Answer:

We strongly recommend that you have an authorized dealer inspect the vessel before returning it into service. The potential damage will vary from model to model. Although we try to design in protection for each component, limitations do exist.

The first item to check is the fuse or fuseable link. Most models have some type of protection in the circuits. You can replace the fuse with the correct size and test the system. If the fuse fails again, dealer involvement is recommended.

Other items on the engine that may be damaged include, but are not limited to the following: voltage regulators, rectifiers, tachometers, Electronic Control Module, isolation diodes and melted wiring. Boat-related items may include the following: radios, radar, lights, wiring, etc.

Question:

What is phase separation, and how do I deal with it?

Answer:

If significant amounts of water are present in a fuel tank with gasoline that contains ethanol, the water will be drawn into the fuel until the saturation point is reached for the three-component mixture of water + gasoline + ethanol. Beyond this level of water, phase separation could cause most of the ethanol and water to separate from the bulk fuel and drop to the bottom of the tank, leaving gasoline with a significantly reduced level of ethanol in the upper phase. If the lower phase of water and ethanol is large enough to reach the fuel inlet, it could be pumped directly to the engine and cause significant problems. Even if the ethanol water phase at the bottom of the tank is not drawn into the fuel inlet, the reduced ethanol level of the fuel reduces the octane rating by as much as 3 octane numbers, which could result in engine problems.

The level at which phase separation can occur is determined by a number of variables, including the amount of ethanol, the composition of the fuel, the temperature of the environment and the presence of contaminants. It is very important (A) that the system is inspected for significant quantities of water in the tank before using gasoline with ethanol and (B) to limit exposure of the fuel tank to excess water. If phase separation has occurred, it is necessary to completely remove all free water from the system and replace the fuel before continuing operation. Otherwise, engine problems could occur.

Outboard Care

Question:

Can I start my engine momentarily out of the water?

Answer:

No. NEVER start or run your outboard without water circulating through the cooling water intake in the gear case. Cooling water prevents damage to the water pump (running dry) and overheating of the engine.

Question:

How often should spark plugs be changed?

Answer:

Every 300 hours or 3 years, whichever comes first.

Question:

Where can I get factory Service manuals, Parts manuals, or Operation, Maintenance & Warranty manuals?

Answer:

You can order all available literature online. You could also order all literature through any authorized Mercury dealer. Please have your outboard or sterndrive serial number before placing the order.  You can also order manuals through our Publications department by calling 920-929-5110.

Sign Up For Email

Enter your email address to receive the latest tips, promotions and news from Mercury.

error
http://www.mercurymarine.com/en/us/faq/?category%5B%5D=outboard-winterization-and-storage&category%5B%5D=outboard-care