Avoiding an outboard meltdown

Lubricants are the lifeblood of your outboard motor. Ask any mechanic and they’ll tell you, regular maintenance with the proper lubricants is essential to making them last. 

Regardless of brand — large or small — the engine that propels your boat requires lubrication to survive the rigors of prolonged use, particularly under adverse conditions. That includes extreme heat to subzero temperatures.

A commonly asked question: “Is it critical to use lubricants specifically formulated for marine use?” The answer, according to the mechanics and service techs I trust, is an emphatic, “Yes!” But there’s a qualifier: They advocate the use of marine-grade lubricants by brands such as Quicksilver, not those produced and branded for marine use by the automotive industry. 

They insist the engineers and chemists who work together to develop marine-grade lubricants do so under the strictest guidelines — to ensure optimal performance and prolonged life for the engines they are intended for. And that doesn’t happen arbitrarily. There’s an absolute science behind it, trust me. Better yet, trust what my friend Scotty Beattie says. He’s one of Mercury Marine’s national service techs, and he’s in constant contact with Mercury’s engineers, continually evaluating engine performance in the field. That includes the outboards we run on the Bassmaster Elite Series. 

Scotty says, “Manufacturer-prescribed lubricants are essential to the performance of the product. The reason being, all product is validated with those specific lubricants — meaning they go through severe endurance testing with radical heat cycles, etc., which are exhaustive, tedious processes.

“It’s of the upmost importance to find the perfect formula to keep our engines functioning at peak performance levels. And that’s why it’s imperative to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, as they dedicate the time and put all the research into it.”

From lab to lake 

Long known for their exploits in the racing world, Mercury engines have been setting speed records for decades. In dealing with such high-performance engines, finding the right balance of formulas is crucial. I’ve seen Mercury’s test facilities, including their state-of-the-art Noise Vibration and Harshness Center, and I can tell you it looks like something out of NASA. The amount of wear and tear they put on their test engines far exceeds anything you or I could ever inflict.