Always use the ear muff style outboard flusher, rather than a garden hose adapter. Garden hose adapters are convenient, but do not offer the same level of cleaning compared to ear muff flusher.
IGNORING WARNING SIGNALS
DO NOT IGNORE THE WARNING SIGNS - As obvious as it sounds, many new and seasoned boaties continue to ignore the warning signals. These systems are in place to stop motor failure. There are two common signaling systems that all boaties should be aware of:
1 - The Buzzer. Most outboard motors are equipped with a warning buzzer, either in the throttle control unit or mounted separately in the vicinity of the helm. When you hear a high pitched annoying beep, or a series of beeps, stop the motor and have a look around for anything abnormal. The buzzer is the first line of defence against overheating. Restart the motor if there are no immediate signs of fault and make sure the motor is pumping water. All outboards will have a stream of water coming out the back to indicate that there is sufficient water flowing.
If the buzzer continues to sound, avoid starting the motor to prevent damage. A overheated motor can lead to catastrophic failure, resulting in very expensive repairs. Where possible, signal to nearby boaties, marine rescue or Police and ask for assistance to tow back to the nearest boat ramp.
2 - Warning Lights. All modern gauges and motors will have an illuminated warning system, either a standalone or commonly found in the tachometer gauge. When the motor is running, it would pay to take an occasional glance at the warning lights. Just one glance could save you thousands.
Proactive inspections and preventative maintenance will reduce the chances of having a motor failure on the water greatly.
Another common cause of motor failure is allowing the motor oil (4 stroke models) to drop too low. Always check the oil level prior to leaving on your trip. For 2 stroke motors, always ensure that the right oil-fuel ratio is mixed. Always carry spare oil in the boat, just in case.
Low oil levels could lead to the motor not being properly lubricated and can result in total failure. Most failures due to the lack of oil, is not worth repairing. Most of the time in these cases, it would be more economical to purchase a new or replacement motor.
These, often unappreciated documents contain vital information about your motor. Small pieces of information can save you thousands when you're aware of it.
The biggest killer of outboard motors is due to improper use. While we all want to blast out to the open waters or to our favourite spots as fast as we can, everything has its limitations. Knowing the recommended operating ranges for your particular outboard is vital to keeping it in good operating condition.
Owner's Manuals have small but vital pieces of information such as the recommended RPM operating range and warning systems. Knowing this will help prevent motor failure due to improper use and voiding any warranty.
Most, if not all modern 4 stroke motors will record the motor operating data, which includes total hours and hours operating at certain RPM ranges. This can show if a motor has been operating beyond its recommended RPM range and potentially void any warranty.
If your outboard motor did not come with the Owner's Manual, they are not hard to find online, a quick Google search is a good place to start.