Water removed from outboard fuel system

Water in your outboard motor can be costly

Last month I ended up with some water in my outboard motor.

It was a costly exercise as the fuel system had to be stripped down, the water removed and all filters replaced.

Check your water trap!

In 30 years of charters I had never encountered this issue before because I am usually very diligent checking the water trap and replacing the filters regularly.

This time however, I dropped the ball for a little bit longer than I should have; And the end result was water in the outboard motor.

As a consequence, I thought it timely to do a blog on the topic. Especially with all the bad weather about and anglers leaving their boats sitting for longer periods unused during extended wet periods.

Water in outboard motors can have detrimental effects on injectors, fuel pumps and can eventually destroy your pistons.

corroded injector resulting from water in outboard motor

Corroded/tarnished injector resulting from water in outboard motor. In this example there is also internal damage = $$$


Check your fuel filter monthly.

I typically check my fuel filter every month, especially if the boat has been in the rain (watch the o-ring on your fuel cap as an entry point). Unfortunately, now that I’m no longer doing charters and focusing on our online fishing courses, my maintenance schedule is a bit out of whack and I paid the price!

Also in some boats the fuel filter can be hidden in a compartment and it’s a case of “out of sight out of mind”. So please be diligent and check your water trap every couple of outings.

fuel filter with water trap to remove water in outboard fuel

Typical fuel filter with water trap to remove water in outboard fuel. Once this is full of water, additional water will ingress into the engine. When there is no water in the trap the liquid will be all the one colour. If you see a line, you need to empty the water.

Water in outboard fuel sinks to the bottom

Water in outboard motor fuel sinks to the bottom

Watch troubleshooting video below and avoid water in your outboard fuel.

In order to get a good handle on the issue, I spoke to outboard mechanic Ian Walters. Ian provided some great tips on troubleshooting the issue before it can do any harm and how to avoid the issue altogether!


Dirty fuel

Also beware (speaking from experience again!) modern engines do not like dirty fuel.

I once blew two injectors on a trip to Cooktown while creating our Sounder Skills 2 online fishing course.

We pulled in right after the refueling truck and the refill must have stirred up the tank. So... be very wary about what you add to your tank!

It's also advisable to add a stabilizing additive if you are planning on storing your boat for any period of time.

Or better still, don't fill up before doing so and go get some fresh fuel when you head out on your next adventure. Which one? Ask your local outboard mechanic or a dealership relevant to your outboard brand and model.

Ethanol shield to stabilise fuel for outboard motors

Stabilising additives can be useful to avoid stale fuel when storing your boat.


Downloadable cheat sheets

Have you got all our relevant cheat sheets? Click the links to get your copy.

What do threadfin look like on your sounder?

How to identify Fingermark (Golden Snapper)

Gear and tackle to catch barramundi in northern Australia.


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About The Author

Ryan Moody

Ryan Moody started his fishing career on the reef boats before catching bucket list marlin for the likes of champion heavy tackle angler Johnno Johnson, INXS and the King of Sweden. Branching out in the late 80's to guided barramundi fishing, Ryan has made a name for himself as a Big Barramundi specialist and to date has put clients onto over 2000 metre plus barra. That is over 2 kilometres of metre plus barra! With attitudes changing from 'keep all you can' towards catch and release, Ryan has decided to share his extensive knowledge and hopefully inspire people of all ages to get out from behind the computer screen/TV and into the fishing outdoors lifestyle he has spent his life perfecting.

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