Seattle Outboard Motor Repair

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The Puget Sound is a beautiful place to go boating and is easily accessible from Seattle and the surrounding areas. Seattle has a hearty boating culture that surprisingly goes year round through the cold winter, so there is plenty of work for outboard mechanics. When you’re looking for outboard motor repair, it can be hit or miss, so here are some tips for finding the best outboard motor mechanics in Seattle:

  • Where to find the best outboard mechanics in Seattle? There are pockets of boat repair shops all around the Puget Sound and Seattle. Within Seattle itself, the area around Lake Union has the highest concentration of boat repair shops. Westlake Ave along Lake Union is home to many outboard motor repair shops, so this is a good starting point for your search. Lake Union is also sheltered from the larger Puget Sound, so it’s a great place to go into harbor and has great access to the city. Salmon Bay is even closer to the Puget Sound and has a plethora of outboard mechanics that can perform any repairs needed. Apart from these areas, places like Ballard, Kirkland, and even Bainbridge Island have pockets of boat repair shops, but you won’t find the same density of outboard mechanics in Seattle as you will in Salmon Bay and Lake Union.

  • Is the outboard mechanic certified by your manufacturer? This should be the first question you ask. Is the outboard mechanic you’re thinking of hiring certified for Yamaha outboards, for Honda outboards, for Mercury outboards, for Evinrude ETEC outboards, or whatever other type of outboard engine you have? Boat motors are not all created equal. Outboard engine manufacturers in different parts of the world build to different standards. Japanese manufacturing techniques are different from American techniques, which is why manufacturers have certification programs to make sure outboard mechanics are trained correctly.

  • Call your manufacturer. Most people forget about this option. If you rely on the marina or even word of mouth from friends, you may end up with an outboard mechanic that isn’t necessarily the best suited to repair your specific engine. Any large outboard manufacturer has a customer service department whose responsibility it is to help build out service networks, primarily through dealers, to support their engines after-sale. The manufacturer has no ulterior motives - they won’t just refer you to one of their buddies. They want to make sure your engine gets fixed so that you’ll continue to buy parts, and someday, buy another engine from them. Customer service will usually have a rolodex of outboard mechanics that can help you and that they trust to do a good job.


The cost for outboard motor repair in Seattle can range from $90 to $550 on average. The lower end of the cost spectrum will cover things like annual maintenance, filter changes, oil changes, and even spark plug replacement. If you have to rebuild a carburetor along with numerous other repairs, that will get the cost to the higher end of the spectrum. Of course, the biggest cost for outboard motor repair will be the labor, so who you hire matters. Here are tips for keeping costs down:

  • Find an outboard mechanic outside the dealer. The dealer that sold you the boat and motor can probably also service them. However, big dealers and marinas have lots of costs associated with running big facilities which increases the labor costs. Outboard engines don’t usually require massive facilities and tons of equipment to be maintained, so you can save money by finding an outboard mechanic that is mobile or has a smaller shop. Outboard motor repair may also require computer diagnostics depending on your engine, in which case, you may have to go with a larger facility. More often than not though, an outboard mechanic should be able to service your engine while it’s trailered, at your dock, or in your marina.

  • Does the outboard mechanic charge for travel? If you find an independent mechanic, you’ll want to make sure you’re clear on the costs of travel, if any. Many of them charge per mile that they have to travel.


Annual maintenance is unavoidable and should be done by a professional outboard mechanic. Your boat’s outboard motor will thank you, however, if you follow some easy steps to maintain it during use. Some tips for outboard engine maintenance include:

Before you go out on the water: - Fill up the fuel tank and confirm that there is no water or debris in the fuel

  • Check your impeller and make sure water is flowing in and out of your engine

  • Oil is an outboard engine’s best friend. Checking the oil is easy for four stroke outboards but may be a little tougher for two strokes given you have to mix with fuel

After you’ve used your outboard motor for the day: - Check the spark plugs

  • Make sure the water intake is clear of all debris it may have sucked up out on the water

  • Use an engine flushing mechanism along with a garden hose to flush your engine and get fresh water flowing through the cooling system to remove salt and other damaging materials.

  • If you have a small outboard engine for a tender, disconnect the fuel line and burn the remainder of the fuel in the carburetor, especially if you are about to put it away for the winter

  • Also make sure to lubricate any exposed mechanical parts like the steering grease points and throttle cables.

The Puget Sound is an estuary where the salt water from the Pacific mixes with freshwater runoff from the surrounding Seattle area. Flushing the engine is an especially important step given that the Puget Sound has brackish water.