Outboard Motors: Your Questions Answered

If you’re a keen boater, then you’ll know that outboard motors are one of the most popular boat propulsion systems in the world. However, the ins and outs of their functionality remains a source of confusion for some. 

If you’re brimming with questions, then you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to answer the most common questions about outboard motors, and show you why these incredible inventions are worth the investment.

Why outboard motors are so expensive? 

Outboard motors are so costly because they are extremely sophisticated bits of kit.

There are two kinds of outboard motor – those with an internal combustion engine and those with a battery-powered electric motor. The engines themselves can range from small 2 or 3 horsepower units up to larger 5, 6 and 7 horsepower models. Some even go as high as 10 horsepower!

If you were to buy a four-horsepower model, it would come with four of each component. This list is endless, but it includes parts such as ignition coils, gaskets, fuel cleaners, air filters, and more. If you add up all the parts, it’s a lot of stuff. So, the bigger your outboard motor, the more costly it will be. 

How does an outboard work? 

An outboard motor has three major parts: the engine, the transmission, and the propeller. When you turn the key, the ignition switch sends a signal to the starter motor, which starts the engine. The starter motor will then rotate the crankshaft until it turns the camshaft. 

The camshaft also works with the valve lifters to open the exhaust valves, warm the engine, and make it run faster. These self-contained units sit at the stern of a boat, and essentially, their engineering is very similar to most vehicles. 

How big an outboard do I need?

Small outboards are usually under 20 horsepower, while large ones can reach around 40. The size you select will depend on the sort of performance you’re after. 

If you prefer a smooth, calm sailing experience, you’ll need an outboard of around 6hp. If you want to go a bit faster or waterski, we recommend somewhere between 18-25hp. 

What outboard motor is the best?

There’s no hard and fast answer to this question. However, there are a few outboard motors that have made big names for themselves in recent years. Here are a few of the most popular, dependable outboard motors for sale that we’ve discovered:

  • Evinrude E-TEC G2 150
  • Suzuki DF350A
  • Honda 105 Jet
  • Yamaha F250
  • Evoy 150

However, we have to be biased and promote our very own CXO300, the pioneer of a new generation of diesel engines. If you’re interested in our outboard motor, ou can book a demonstration here.

How do you drive a boat with an outboard motor? 

If you’re used to a steering wheel, driving a boat with an outboard motor may be a huge change. Let’s run you through the key things you need to consider when driving a boat with an outboard motor: 

Prime and adjust

First off, you’ll need to push the primer button to start the motor. The number of times you have to press this will depend on the type of motor you have. Pressing your primer button too many times may flood the engine, so be careful. 

Now, pull the start cord a few times to spur your engine into action. If the engine doesn’t start, we recommend opening up the choke and pulling the cord a few more times. 

Set the motor in the right direction

If your motor has a lever to switch between directions, make sure it’s set in the right direction. Of course, this will always be facing away from the dock. 

Start accelerating

To start accelerating, you’ll need to twist the handle positioned at the end of the tiller. This will allow you to accelerate and decelerate. 


Now, it’s time to steer your boat. You can do this by using the tiller. On most outboard motors, you’ll have to push and pull the tiller to steer you in the right direction. 

How many hours will an outboard motor last?

The average outboard motor will last an estimated 1,500 hours. Depending on how often you use your outboard motor, this could last you anywhere between five and ten years!

Of course, the longevity of your outboard motor will also depend on how well you maintain it. Here are some general tips and tricks for maintaining your outboard motor: 

Fuel connections

You’ll need to inspect your fuel line regularly to assess for damage. Look out for things like faulty fuel connections and leaky lines. 

Hose clamps

Keep an eye on your hose clamps, and look out for things like corrosion and damage. 

Fuel tank

Assess your fuel tank regularly. Check things such as tank ventilation, water in your fuel, and other internal or external damage. 


Ensure you lubricate all of the moveable parts of your outboard motor, and all appropriate parts of your steering system. Ideally, this should be done every year or every 100 hours (whichever comes first). 

Water pump impeller

After 300 hours of use, you should be replacing your water pump impeller. If you use your outboard motor in sandy conditions, you may need to replace this more frequently. 

What RPM should you run your outboard? 

Most manufacturers will recommend a specific RPM for each outboard model. 

However, the average RPM for most outboards is between 3400 to 3800. This will often achieve the best speeds for cruising. If you’re unsure what RPM to run your outboard at, consult your manufacturer for advice.

Why are outboards so popular today?

The rising popularity of outboards can be attributed to several factors, including:

  • Improved Performance: Outboards can be trimmed. This improves performance, especially in shallower environments. 
  • More Features: Outboards also seem to have more features than other propulsion systems. These features can include joystick steering and even autopilot. 
  • Digital Throttles: Some outboards even feature digital throttles. Many of these can control up to four engines from one interface. 
Final thoughts

Outboard motors are lightweight, affordable, and pack a real punch. They also offer a better power to weight ratio than their inboard counterparts. If you’re considering adding an outboard motor to your boat, what are you waiting for? If you have any more questions, visit our FAQ page or get in touch with our experts