Servicing Your Sterndrive/Drive Unit
often should it be done? Most manufacturers recommend sterndrive/drive
unit maintenance every 50 hours. To most boaters this equates to
once per season. Usually the best time to perform this service is
the same time that you winterize your boat. If you exceed 50 hours
a season then it is advisable to stick to the 50-hour recommendation
and additionally service your drive when you winterize at the end
of the season.
Servicing your drive not only performs a required
maintenance function but it also can give you insight into the condition
of your internal drive components. Water is a major enemy of drive
units. Water in a unit, that has been recently run, will cause the
oil to look milky. A unit that has set for a few days and had time
to separate will drain water first and then the oil. Remember oil
floats on water. Also check the tip of your magnetized drain plug
and the oil itself for metallic shavings. Its not abnormal to have
some very fine particles, demonstrating normal wear or break in,
but larger pieces are a sign of serious problems. Any indication
of water or excessive metallic fines should be brought to the attention
of a qualified marine mechanic immediately.
It also important to stress the absolute need
to follow drive service recommendations for new drive units. This
even applies to older boats that have had their drives rebuilt,
replaced or repaired. Manufacturers recommend a 20-hour break in
period at no more than 2/3 throttle and no extended high rpm runs.
At the end of the twenty hours, service your drive unit as suggested
in this bulletin. This time you can expect to see more metallic
fines. This is normal, as the gears are seating and rounding off
some of their square edges.
Drive servicing is very cost effective. Think
of it as an insurance policy. A few dollars worth of oil to protect
a unit that can sometimes cost thousands of dollars to replace.