Steer The Right Course

Photo of a couple at the wheel of a powerboatPhoto: Yamaha

Wheelin' And Dealin'

A spongy wheel indicates you have a leak in your hydraulic steering system. Oil doesn't evaporate, so if the reservoir is low, it's time to find and fix that leak. In an emergency, 5W motor oil will work well enough in your system to get you home.

Replacing Steering Cable

Push/pull-type steering cables are easy to replace. The cable must be measured for the proper length before ordering a new one. Check with a local dealer before doing this because some are measured differently from others. The cable must be disconnected from the helm and the engine before removal is possible. When installing the new cable, ensure it's not pulled too tight around corners at the dash and the transom. Also ensure that the engine's connector link arm is properly torqued. When installation is complete, check for steering through the complete engine range.

Bleeding And Checking Hydraulic Steering Systems

  • Filling hydraulic sterring system illustration
    Bleeding hydraulic steering system illustration
    Click images to enlarge

Two people are usually necessary to properly add fluid and bleed a hydraulic steering system — one at the helm, holding the fluid supply bottle in place as it fills the helm reservoir and steering the engine back and forth; and the other at the transom, opening the bleed fittings and catching the excess fluid with a clear hose and suitable catch reservoir. All air must be purged from the system, or it will "skip" and steer erratically — especially critical on high-performance boats. Some systems have reservoirs that will accomplish the bleeding without the second person aft at the ram and the fluid leaking out back there. 

— Published: Fall 2014


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