5 Signs of Outboard Lower Unit Damage

by | Jul 28, 2022 | Blog

Looking for signs of outboard lower unit damage? Precision Marine provides 5 major signs that you need a new Suzuki lower unit.

Damages to any part of your boat can be frustrating, but when it’s the lower unit of your outboard motor, it can be a real pain. The lower unit houses the gearbox, propeller shaft, and propeller, so any damage to it can cause major problems that might also affect your upper unit in the long run.

If you think your lower unit might be damaged, there are five signs you can look for. But before we get into that, let’s first talk about what can cause damage to the parts of the lower unit.

What Is an Outboard Lower Unit?

The portion of an outboard motor that is submerged in water is called the lower unit. The gearbox, propeller shaft, and propeller are all located inside.

The propeller shaft receives power from the engine through a forward gear in the gearbox bearing. The boat is propelled across the water by the propeller once it is turned by the propeller shift shaft.

What Can Cause Outboard Lower Unit Damage?

There are a number of things that can damage the lower unit of an outboard motor, but the most common causes are:

  • Hitting Underwater Obstacles

Rocks, reefs, and other underwater obstacles can cause shift linkage and even major damage to the lower unit. Even hitting a small rock can dent or crack the gearcase, which can lead to serious problems, especially to the water pump housing.

  • Running Aground

Running your boat aground can also damage the lower unit. Hitting a sandbar, for example, can bend or break the propeller shaft and can cause the water pump fails.

  • Hitting Floating Objects

Colliding with a floating log or another object can also damage the lower units. Even hitting a small object at a high speed can cause serious damage, including to the shaft splines, shift cables, and water pump impeller.

5 Signs of Outboard Lower Unit Damage

If you think your lower unit might be damaged, there are five signs you can look for:

  • Leaking Gear Oil

If you notice gear oil leaking from your outboard motor, it’s a sign that the lower unit oil contained might be damaged. Gear lube leaks can be caused by a number of things, including damaged seals or gaskets, a cracked case, or stripped pinion gear and some reverse gears.

  • Grinding Noises

Another indication that the lower portion of your outboard motor may be damaged is the sound of grinding. Many different things, such as stripped gears or a bent propeller shaft, might result in grinding noises.

  • Locked-up Motor

If your outboard motor locks up and won’t turn, it’s a sure sign that the lower unit is damaged. This sign is mainly caused by a damaged shift shaft, but it can also be caused by a number of other things, such as a broken propeller shaft or a failed water pump.

  • Leaking Oil From the Propeller Shaft

If you notice oil leaking from the propeller shaft, it’s a sign that the seals in the lower unit are damaged. Oil leaks can also be caused by a cracked case or a bent propeller shaft.

  • Bent or Damaged Propeller

If you notice that the propeller is bent or damaged, it’s a sign that the lower unit is probably damaged. A bent or damaged propeller can be caused by hitting underwater obstacles, running aground, or hitting a floating log or other objects.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take your outboard to a qualified technician for repair or replacement. Trying to repair the lower unit yourself can be dangerous and could make the problem worse.

You can also contact us directly. We are more than happy to help you troubleshoot the problem and find the best solution for your outboard motor.

How to Keep Your Outboard in Good Shape

To help prevent damage to your outboard’s lower unit, it’s important to take good care of your motor. Here are a few tips you can practice as early as now:

  • Keep It Clean

Regular cleaning will help stop salt and other particles from accumulating and creating issues with your outboard motor.

  • Flush It After Every Use

Flushing your outboard with fresh water after every use will help remove salt, sand, and other debris that can damage the lower unit.

  • Check for Leaks

It is also important to regularly check your outboard for leaks. If you notice any leaks, have them fixed as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

  • Inspect the Propeller

Propellers are susceptible to damage, so it’s important to inspect them regularly for nicks, cracks, or bends.

  • Keep an Eye on the Environment

Pay attention to your surroundings and be aware of potential hazards like rocks, reefs, and floating logs.

  • Prop shaft Oil Seal

Prop shaft oil seal is one of the most important parts of your outboard motor. It keeps water and debris from getting into the lower unit. Check it regularly for leaks or damage.

When to Replace Your Outboard’s Lower Unit

If your outboard’s lower unit is damaged beyond repair, you’ll need to replace it. You can buy a new lower unit or have one rebuilt by a qualified technician.

Features to Look for When Buying a New Outboard

You will have to purchase a new outboard lower unit if yours is damaged beyond repair. When looking for a new outboard, keep the following in mind:

  • Horsepower

The horsepower of an outboard motor is a good indicator of its power and performance. Higher-horsepower motors are more powerful and can propel your boat faster.

  • Shaft Length

The shaft length of an outboard motor is important to consider because it determines how deep the motor can be submerged. Shorter shafts are good for shallow water, while longer shafts are better for deeper water.

  • Number of Cylinders

The number of cylinders in an outboard motor determines how much power it can generate. More cylinders mean more power.

  • Weight

The weight of an outboard motor is important to consider because it affects how easy the motor is to transport and how well it will perform. Heavier motors are usually more powerful, but they can be difficult to move around. Lighter motors are easier to transport, but they may not have as much power.

  • Warranty

When buying a new outboard motor, it’s important to consider the warranty. Some manufacturers offer longer warranties than others. A longer warranty gives you more time to use the motor without having to worry about repairs or replacements.

What Should You Look for When Looking for a Professional Outboard Service Provider?

If you’re also planning to customize your outboard, it’s important to choose a qualified outboard service provider. Here are a few things to look for when choosing an outboard service provider:

  • Qualifications

The first thing you should look for in an outboard service provider is qualifications. Make sure the provider is certified by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) or a similar organization.

  • Experience

Experience is important when choosing an outboard service provider. Make sure the provider has experience working on outboards, and ask for references if possible.

  • Cost

The cost of outboard services can vary depending on the provider. Make sure to get a few quotes before choosing a provider.

  • Location

The location of the outboard service provider is also important to consider. You’ll want to choose a provider that’s close to your home or marina so you can easily get your outboard to and from the shop.

  • Schedule

When choosing an outboard service provider, it’s important to consider the provider’s schedule. You’ll want to choose a provider that can work on your outboard when you need it, and that has a flexible schedule.

Why Choose Precision Marine?

With the number of outboard service providers out there, it can be difficult to choose the right one. Precision Marine offers a wide range of outboard services, and our experienced technicians are qualified to work on all makes and models of outboards. We’re also an authorized dealer for Suzuki outboards and offer a wide range of outboard services

You can also check our shop for a wide range of outboard parts and accessories. We offer a price match guarantee on all of our products, so you can be sure you’re getting the best deal.

Outboard Lower Unit by Precision Marine

Now that you know the signs of outboard lower unit damage, it’s important to choose a qualified outboard service provider to fix the problem.

We at Precision Marine are qualified to work on all makes and models of outboards, and we offer a wide range of outboard services. Contact us today to schedule a service appointment.