Outboard Flushing,By John Tiger
The Right Way
Published: August/September 2013
It sounds simple, but hang on! There's a right and a wrong way to perform this essential task.
Back in the day, flushing an outboard with fresh water was done only one way. A set of "ear muffs" or "flush muffs" was fitted around the engine's gearcase to cover the water intakes, connected to a garden hose with a good water supply, and the engine was run for five to 10 minutes. But today's outboards can be flushed using other, sometimes easier methods, without even starting the engine.
Salt and brackish water is a corrosive killer of the aluminum from which outboards are made, so flushing every time after saltwater use is a must. Left unchecked inside the cooling passages, saltwater will quickly build up and may cause cooling blockages, leading to overheating and, over time, can corrode an engine from inside out. All outboard manufacturers recommend flushing (according to the procedures outlined in the engine owner's manual) after every use in salt, brackish, dirty, or polluted waters. Operating an engine in sandy, silty, or muddy fresh water also dictates the need for periodic flushing.
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