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Author Topic:   Oil Change on 4-Stroke Outboards
jimh posted 01-26-2004 01:04 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
Many owners of classic Boston Whaler boats have re-powered them with 4-stroke engines. I am curious how the oil change maintenace has been going with these engines.

How often do you change the oil? Every 50 hours? Every 100 hours?

How much oil is needed at each change and how much does it cost? Do you need to use special OEM branded oil?

Do you change the oil filter, too? How much does the OEM brand oil filter cost?

Do you do your own oil change?

If you do change your own oil, what is involved? Is it a messy job? Are special tools required?

If not, how much does it cost to have the oil changed, including labor, parts, new filter, etc.? How long does it take to schedule the work and have it done? Does your selling dealer offer this service on demand and in a timely fashion?

Many people are considering purchasing 4-stroke engines and I think it would be beneficial to hear of some real-world experiences with this part of the maintenance schedule on modern 4-stroke outboard engine.

NausetBoy posted 01-26-2004 07:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for NausetBoy  Send Email to NausetBoy     
I have let the dealer do mah oil changes until now. I plan to start changing my own oil and doin all other service to my Yamaha F100. My father purchased this motor and in 2001 and we put it on my Nauset. It sits kind of low in the back bu I contribute that to the 50 gallons of fuel it holds. Yea the previous owner put a 50 gallon gas tank on it. I plan on removing it and restoring it to original condition later. But back to oil. I think the capacity is somewhere around 2 or 4 quarts. I change the oil every 100 hours and that works out fine. I use YamaLube oil. When i took it to my dealer, Sportsmans Marine, I would ask em to change the oil, look over it, and replace the anodes etc. Just get it ready for summer. I would get it back home and notice the same anodes on it and the oil filter wasnt even changed. and they charged me for it!!! Thay don't listen, cause thay got better things to do like install a brand new set of 3 Mercury XS on a 32' Donzi. The boat doenst go there any more. I plan on changing my own oil nexy weekend and the manual gives a very good description of how to do it. It should'nt be hard and it will save me money. If you are slow and take your time it shouldnt be messy. The messiest part is probably draining it into the pan.


Moe posted 01-26-2004 08:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
I do my own changes. Merc calls for every 100 hours after break-in and that's probably what I'll follow.

At the local small Mom and Pop authorized Merc repair shop, the OEM filter is $9.10 and it takes 3 quarts of OEM oil at $4.75 each or $14.25. Total $23.35 plus tax. I'm sure I can find the supplies for less.

I bought one of those stamped oil filter wrenches that fits on the end for about $10 if I recall correctly.

My dealer recommended stuffing paper towels under the horizontally mounted oil filter before unscrewing it. I tilted the motor all the way up and cranked the steering wheel over to starboard to let the filter drain, a trick I learned on motorcycles. There was only a drip or two of oil when the filter was removed after turning the motor over to port.

I then turned the wheel hard to port to put the drain on the port side of the motor down and drained it. Not all the oil came out. The oil from the filter was still trapped up in the powerhead somewhere, but it came out when I lowered the motor to vertical. I now drop the motor to vertical between tilting to drain the filter and tilting to drain the crankcase.

This is the easiest, cleanest oil change I've ever done on any engine.


Clark Roberts posted 01-26-2004 08:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
My 02 Merc 114 EFI 4S has a capacity of 5 qts and calls for 10W-30 oil (any oil that meets spec in manual is fine) and I use Castrol brand because that's what I use in my x-90 and my Grand Cherokee. I change once a year on my birthday (that way I can keep track of the time) and It's due again in mid may. Easy, easy job, not messy- just follow manual instructions. New filter at each oil change makes good sense. I wouldn't think of haveing a shop do such a simple job... happy Whalin'... Clark.. SCN
bricknj posted 01-26-2004 09:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for bricknj    
Would you gents recommend against changing the oil while in the water?
Moe posted 01-26-2004 11:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
If you have to do it mid-season while the boat is in the slip, I'd try one of those through-the-dipstick-tube suction devices to remove the old oil. You'll do a complete drain when you pull it and winterize it at the end of the season.


Bigshot posted 01-26-2004 11:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot COULD change it in the water but I would not recommend it.

Jim it is REALLY simple and cheap. I do mine every 100 hours but unlike others here I run Synthetic. Being a modified Suzuki Samurai 1.3L engine the fram filter costs me under $4 at K-Mart. I remove the side cowling(3 or 4 screws) and remove the filter. Then I install filter and drain oil which is 1 little bolt, not messy at all but I would not use my Suede jacket as a drop cloth. I then stick 4+qts of Synthetic 10-40 oil at roughly $4/qt so all said and done she costs about $20 once a year. I also do the lower unit oil and fuel filters.

Synthetic oils mix with water better than petroleum based from what I understand.

15to17 posted 01-26-2004 09:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for 15to17  Send Email to 15to17     

Based largely on the advice from many members of this forum, I recently repowered my '86 Montauk with a 2003 Johnson 70 hp 4-stroke (manufactured by Suzuki).

Just two weeks ago I completed my initial fluid/filter change (after 10 hours of run time). I had planned to have the dealer do it, but based on his recommendation that I simply keep good records to maintain the warranty, and the fact that I could save myself some money, I elected to do it myself.

The owners manual for my motor indicates a crankcase capacity of 4.8 quarts of Bombardier (Johnson) four-stroke outboard oil, so you have to go with 5 quarts. The OEM filter was relatively steep, around $15. Throw in the lower unit gear fluid (and a one-time outlay of $5 for the "adapter" for Sukuki outboards to fill the gear case), and I was looking at $50 in materials for the job.

The entire fluid and filter change took me approximately 1.5 hours (probably took a lot longer than necessary, but given the fact that this was my first crack at it, I was a bit tedious in my execution!). No special tools required (other than the allen wrench that came with the motor for the drain plug). That, plus a few old rags to keep things tidy, and it was what I would consider a modest investment to keep things running in top shape.

weekendwarrior posted 01-27-2004 10:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for weekendwarrior  Send Email to weekendwarrior     
I've got a 50HP Honda on my 96' montauk and do the oil changes myself. It's a snap, much easier than a car. On the honda the oil drain is under the above-water exhaust outlet on the back of the motor. Definitely don't change the oil on this motor in the water unless you suck it out of the dipstick tube. If the motor sits for a week before I remove the filter then the filter is empty when I remove it and there is no mess. A strap wrench works nicely on the filter on this motor. I also use synthetic, 5-30 as called for in the manual. As for the change interval, my hour meter pooped out when it got wet so now I just change it as soon as it starts to turn color. I'm not sure how many hours this is but it's got to be before the recommended change time. It only holds 2.1 quarts so it's not that expensive to do it early. :)
dgp posted 01-27-2004 07:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for dgp  Send Email to dgp     
Let's see, $9.10 for an OEM Mercury oil filter and 3 x $1.77 for OEM 4-stroke oil = $14.41 + tax.
2001 Mercury / Mercury 50 Hp four stroke recommended oil drain interval 100 hours or once a year. There are 2 ways to remove engine oil: via threaded drain plug in lower cowling; vacuum-suction device tubing inserted into dipstick tube or attaching hose fitting to top of threaded dipstick tube.
AC posted 01-29-2004 04:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for AC  Send Email to AC     
My Honda called for oil changes @ 20 hours, and not again until 200 hours!
David Jenkins posted 01-30-2004 02:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Jenkins  Send Email to David Jenkins     
I think that it is the consensus of 4-stroke owners that they would rather change their oil once a year than go back to the 2-stroke days of adding oil to a tank every time they added fuel, or worrying whether or not the 2-stroke engine was pulling adequate oil from an external reservoir. And it does not sound like the added (?) expense of the oil and filter are factors to be considered.
Peter posted 01-30-2004 06:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Is it safe to follow the manufacturer's interval for oil changes if you do a lot of trolling where you are likely to be "making oil"? Do the owner's manuals say anything about this?
dgp posted 01-30-2004 07:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for dgp  Send Email to dgp     
I do alot of trolling and my 4-stoke does not have a fuel dilution problem.
"making oil" is an abnormal condition therefore no owner's manual will make reference to that.
Peter posted 01-30-2004 08:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Well I was wondering whether fuel dilution or "making oil" was abnormal and it seemed like there was a plausible reason why it might be normal. Most 4-stroke engines in applications other than outboards don't run at idle or near idle speed possibly for hours at a time. I can't think of any situation where I've left my car or 4-cycle lawn mower running at idle speeds for an hour or two or more at a time. Thus, under such conditions, it seemed plausible to me that the oil temperature may not rise to or remain at a sufficient level high enough to boil off any fuel that gets into the oil. There have been some incidents of this being reported and I seem to recall that it was linked to motors extensively trolled.

jstachowiak posted 01-31-2004 11:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for jstachowiak  Send Email to jstachowiak     
What Bigshot said.


jimh posted 01-31-2004 11:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Thanks to all who have contributed their first-hand experiences in changing the oil of their 4-stroke motors.

I encourage others to contribute their first-hand experience in changing the oil on their 4-stroke outboards, the costs involved, and tips or tricks learned in the process.

The topics of "making oil" and the relative merits of owning a 4-stroke versus a 2-stroke have been discussed in other threads.

Any more oil change experiences to report?

Dick posted 01-31-2004 11:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
Not long after I bought my Merc 50 4 stroke I checked the oil after a fishing trip. It was overfull and smelled like gas.
We contacted Merc tech services, they said it was one of two problems. The rings hadn't seated properly of the fuel pump was faulty. We ran their suggested diagnostics and found the fuel pump was the problem. Replaced the fuel pump and never a problem after that.
If a 4 stroke is making oil you have a problem other than trolling.


kglinz posted 01-31-2004 12:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for kglinz  Send Email to kglinz     
My Optimaxs used about $600 worth of DFI oil a season. I was buying it bulk at $17 a gallon which is a good price. DFI oil is not available in any marina I go to. This means to have oil for my annual trip I need to leave Bellingham,WA with 16, 2 1/2 gallon jugs on board. Thats 260 lbs of oil. Kind of eliminates the weight advantage of a 2 stroke. My 4 stroke oil change, using factory oil filters. (Yamaha, not Mercury)and synthetic oil costs around $85.
edfish posted 02-01-2004 01:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for edfish  Send Email to edfish     
Hello to all, and here is my procedure. A few years ago I purchased two Mercury 75hp. outboards and put them on my '72 21' Outrage. I have religously changed my oil every 80hrs. or sooner on one occasion. I have nearly 1900hrs. on each engine and counting. My boat is constantly in the water, coming out only for yearly bottom upkeep. As you might surmize, I change the oil while in my berth. I use one of the vacume oil changers that are available for about $56.00 online for the 8.8 litre model. They work very well and are very clean. The most problematic part of the oil change is changing the oil filter. It is mounted sideways on the engine so removing it without spilling is impossible. Why they did this is beyond me. Anyway, with the help of the oil absorbent cloths, that the Harbor gladly provides, I am able to make a very clean job of it. No oil in the water. Have plenty of the oil absorbent cloths on hand in case of emergencies. Warm the engine before oil removal because if you don't it will take a long time to suck the oil out.

My engines take 5 quarts of oil each. It costs about $80.00 to service the two engines including grease for the pivot and tilt tube. Then there is the lower unit that gets done as well. I do that in the water, as well. I change the oil at 80hrs. because oil is a lot cheaper than a new engine.

As far as having my dealer change the oil, I believe that with his busy schedual that he is happier having me do the minor things. He is a great mechanic and I believe his talent is wasted on my oil changes. Besides I fish for a living on my boat and need the boat ready at all possable times. Plus, I don't even own a trailer.

Hope this is of some help and I wish all the best to all for the New Year. Safe journies and Good Luck to all the fishermen. More to come. -ED

Moe posted 02-01-2004 12:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
edfish, tilt the engines all the way up. If the filters are on the port side of the engine, turn the helm all the way to starboard, and go have a cold one while the filters drain.

When you get back, tilt the motors back to vertical so oil that drained from the filters that got trapped in the powerhead can drain into the sump.

I didn't get more than a drop or two when unscrewing the filter on the 60HP. This is an old trick I learned on motorcycles. It's less convenient with them because you have to stay straddled on them with the bike leaning away from the kickstand. But it sure makes a difference on horizontally mounted oil filters.


Barney posted 02-01-2004 05:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Barney  Send Email to Barney     
When you unscrew the drain plug be ready for a stream of oil that shoots out a bit. There is some head pressure. Jim
Moe posted 02-01-2004 05:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
Sounds like the voice of experience, Jim ;-)
Barney posted 02-01-2004 06:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Barney  Send Email to Barney     
Yep, I was warned by a neighbor, but still wow! Jim
mnboater posted 02-01-2004 09:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for mnboater  Send Email to mnboater     
I have 3 - 4 stroke motors ... a 25, 50, and 100. I have installed hour meters on all. I change oil in the fall for layup and at mid season or 50 hours whichever comes first. I also use the hr. meters to monitor fuel consumption. The process of getting engine oil out by pump or sump drain is the easy part. I dreaded the filter change. Tired of the oil mess in the motor pan, I applied the filter drain process a car service tech showed me on inverted car filters ... punch a small hole at the upper most corner of the filter and it will drain into the sump. (I use a small nail set with a point ground on the end) No motor tilting or turning and it can be done when the engine is warm. I let it drain down for about 5 min. or so as I am draining the sump. With the hole punched in the filter, air bleeds in allowing the warm oil to drain out of the filter very quickly. Spin the filter off and a paper towel is all I need to wipe the few oil drips off the lip under my filters. Works great for me.

Fram has replacement filters for Yamaha outboards. They are the same as used on many of the motorcycles. If I buy a case of 12, they are $3.95 ea. I have been using Valvolene Durablend (synthetic blend) with my relatively short change interval ... If I went the 100 hrs. I would use Mobil 1. My oil changes depending on which motor, range from $13 - $20. I spend about $100 on oil and filters for 3 engines and $30 for lower unit lub changes.

Just my experiences.

Jim Grinde

Chris M posted 03-17-2005 11:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chris M  Send Email to Chris M     
I have one of the new V-6 Suzuki 200 HP. It holds 7.8 quarts of oil with the filter change. Even with the volume of oil and the filter, with the fuel savings and the price of injector oil the choice is obvious.
15ftlover posted 03-17-2005 09:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for 15ftlover  Send Email to 15ftlover     
I've gotten the oil change down to @ 10-15 minutes. 3 quarts are about $18 dollars. I use mercury filters, mercury brand 10W-30 and save the receipts and log the hours in my manual in case of any warranty claims. Most expensive upgrade was an hour meter at @ $50. Warranty runs through '09
fourdfish posted 03-17-2005 10:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
Kglinz---$600 for oil/season for your Optimax means you had an unreal amount of hrs per season or you paid an unreal amount for oil or the engine oiling system is set higher than it should be!???
kglinz posted 03-17-2005 11:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for kglinz  Send Email to kglinz     

That number was probably a little high , but not much. I never got quite 50 to 1 oil ratio and I ran just about 100 hrs in 2002. At cruise I burned 18 to 20 gallons an hour. I don't have the Logs at the house. Compared to the price of fuel this year the oil costs aren't much.

Casey Casebeer posted 03-19-2005 07:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for Casey Casebeer  Send Email to Casey Casebeer     
Check out:

Suzuki has a number of pretty good (but short) training clips online. ...can't beat the price (free).


seahorse posted 03-19-2005 08:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for seahorse  Send Email to seahorse     

The F200-225 Yamaha oil change is a bit more expensive and messy than the others.

Figure on 7 quarts of oil since capacity is around 6.5 qt.

The oil filters for the motor are around $25 apiece!!!

Yamaha maintenance schedule shows 2 changes a year, every 6 months or 100 hours, whichever comes first. Some owners manuals say to change the filter every other time. Some say at 200 hours.

The filter position on the V6 200-225 is a bit awkward and since the oil does not drain back like the in-line 115 and smaller engines, it makes a bit of a mess when replacing it. You have to pack rags underneath it and use a baggie to help catch the oil.

The new F250 manual says to change oil more often than recommended when doing a lot of trolling or low speed operation.

RWM posted 03-19-2005 10:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for RWM  Send Email to RWM     
I have tried to use the suzuki video site several times from 3 different computers. I am not able to get them to work. I get video from lots of sites with no problem, but not suzuki. Anyone else have a problem?

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