Can you Lay an Outboard Motor on it’s Side? (Things you must know)

Not sure if you can lay your outboard motor on it’s side?  Yes, you can store an outboard on its side, however before you do have a read of the below article for some helpful tips and for things to consider before doing so.

Boat outboard motor laid and stored on its side

Can you lay or store your outboard on your side?

Yes, this can be done though err on the side of caution.  Before you do its always best to check the owner’s manual to ascertain the recommended way to store your motor on its side. 

If you don’t have a manual then best to try and locate it online or if not hopefully the info below will help.

Does it matter if you lay an outboard on it’s side?

Although it’s always best to store the motor vertically, as long as the right precautions, outboard motors can be stored on their side.

How to store a two stroke motor on it’s side?

With a two stroke the way you store it doesn’t matter as much as with a four stroke as there is no oil within the engine. 

Again refer to the owners manual where possible, though when storing a two stroke the main thing to ensure is that it’s not laying on the side with the gear lever as this can break off.

How to store a four stroke motor on it’s side?

More attention is required when laying a four stroke on its side.  Reason is that a four stroke has oil within the crankcase and if it’s not positioned correctly the oil will run into areas of the engine where it shouldn’t.  Additionally to this the oil is also likely to run out of the engine onto the floor.  However, as there is no oil in a two stroke this is not as much of an issue.

Which side should I lay my outboard motor on?

These days most newer portable outboards have indicators on the motor casing showing which side you should lay the engine on. 

However, if this is not the case then it’s usually recommended to lay your outboard on the throttle side and not on the gear side. 

The reason behind this is that gear levers break easily, hence by laying on the throttle side you will ensure that the gears are protected.

What precautions can you take?

According to a number of different owner manuals there are a few precautions you can take before laying down your motor on it’s side.  These include:

  • Draining the motor of oil before laying it on it’s side (Remember to top it back up before use!);
  • Drain the fuel;
  • Ensure that all cooling water has drained from your engine before placing it on its side.  If not the water could find it’s way through to the cylinder via the exhaust port which will cause you trouble;
  • Avoid storing in a direct sunlight- Where possible store in a dry well ventilated area- If you’re storing on an open trailer consider placing a motor cover on it to stop dust getting into parts of the engine;
  • Consider stuffing a rag in the propeller to stop air going up through the exhaust- Check the dipstick lid is one up tight as this can sometimes leak (if it’s a four stroke); and
  • Depending on the size, lay the outboard on some cushions or an old mattress.

My outboard doesn’t work after laying it down?

If your engine isn’t starting then it’s probably best to contact an outboard mechanic to troubleshoot.  Or alternatively, if you see that the oil is drained and the oil has gone into the cylinders then you could always try the following steps:

  • Mount the engine up right on a stand or the back of the boat- Remove the spark plug and crank it over until no more oil comes out;
  • Check the engines to ensure it’s full with oil
  • If not top it up
  • Replace the spark plug
  • Crank it a few times to start it.  Note, as it’s likely there will be a bit of smoke due to the excess oil.  
  • Re-check and potentially clean your spark plug again after you’ve run it for a bit.

Final thoughts

I hope this article is helpful.  If you have any feedback or if there is anything else you would like to add to this please reach out to us via our contact form.

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