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How to Recover a Sunk 2-stroke Outboard

Updated: Nov 26, 2023



Submerged Engine (Fresh Water)


1. Recover the engine as quickly as possible. If submerged while running, beware of the possibility of internal engine damage has increased.

2. Remove cowling and inspect for visible damage.

3. Flush the exterior of the outboard with fresh water to remove mud, weeds, etc. See if the engine rotates freely, don't attempt to start the engine if sand has entered the powerhead, as the powerhead will be severely damaged. Disassemble the powerhead if necessary to clean components.

4. Remove spark plugs and get as much water as possible out of the powerhead. Most water can be eliminated by placing the engine in a horizontal position (with spark plug holes down) and rotating the flywheel.

5. Pour alcohol into carburetor throats (alcohol will absorb water). Again rotate the flywheel.

6. Turn the engine over, pour alcohol into the spark plug openings, and rotate the flywheel.

7. Turn the engine over (place spark plug openings down) and pour engine oil into the throat of carburetors while rotating the flywheel to distribute oil throughout the crankcase.

8. Again turn the engine over and pour approximately one teaspoon of engine oil into each spark plug opening. Again rotate the flywheel to distribute oil in cylinders.

9. Remove and clean carburetors and fuel pump assembly.

10. Dry all wiring and electrical components using compressed air.

11. Disassemble the engine starter motor and dry the brush contacts, armature, and other corrodible parts.

12. Reinstall spark plugs, carburetors, and fuel pump.

13. Attempt to start the engine, using a fresh fuel source. If the engine starts, it should be run for at least one hour to eliminate any water in the engine.

14. If the engine fails to start, determine the cause (fuel, electrical or mechanical).

15. The engine should be run within 2 hours after recovery of the outboard from water, or serious internal damage may occur. If unable to start the engine in this period, disassemble the engine and clean all parts.

16. Apply 2-stroke oil as soon as possible.

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