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UBW133-01_ 7.125x4.625_Layout 1 2/19/16 3: 26 PM Page 1
your readings, talk with your dealer to see
if they’re in the ballpark. Generally, readings below 90 PSI for modern two-stroke
outboards indicate a problem; most will
produce cranking compression readings
in the 90 to 105 PSI range, depending
on the engine year, make, and model.
For older models and high-performance
engines, readings should usually be in the
115 to 140 PSI range, again depending on
the engine make, year, and model. Four-stroke engines can produce much higher
compression; check the readings we got
for our subject engine, a 2006 Suzuki
DF115. Again, the readings should be
within 10 PSI of each other.
If your compression readings are low,
or some cylinders low but others high,
there are a few potential causes. The most
common issue is carbon clogging the
piston-ring grooves. The carbon residue
is the byproduct of the combustion cycle.
Left to build up, it causes the piston-rings
to stick so that they can’t “spring out”
against the cylinder walls to seal combus-
tion pressure and transfer heat. Engine
damage will result if the condition isn’t
rectified. Adding products like Ring Free
and Engine Tuner to the fuel, or
spraying an appropriate prod-
uct directly into the engine air
intakes with the engine running,
may help to dissolve some carbon
deposits, although you should
consult your engine manufac-
turer first. However, this isn’t a
cure-all. Sometimes the deposits
are so hard, old, and crusty that
the engine must be disassembled,
cleaned, and rebuilt.
The engine could be worn
out, i.e., the cylinders worn out-of-round, tapered, or both. If this
is the case, it’s more likely that
all cylinder readings will be low, not just
one or two.
There could be internal damage, perhaps a broken piston ring, or scored
cylinder, or broken or detonated piston, a
bad valve seating, even a broken connecting rod. In this case, the suspect cylinder’s
compression would be dramatically lower
than the rest, or even zero.
If your test reveals low or erratic read-
ings, you may need to remove the engine
cylinder head(s) to inspect the piston/
point, however, that you might
want to defer to your mechanic,
if you haven’t already. If you did
a compression check, at least
you can relay your findings to
If your engine produces
healthy, even readings, record
this information for future reference as a baseline. Also, these
results will be helpful if you’re
selling your engine.
While this seems like a fairly
basic test, the specifics can vary
greatly with the many variations of outboards and systems. Failure to
follow steps appropriate to your outboard
may cause damage and injury. Unless
you’re familiar with your motor’s requirements and have a good understanding of
how to do this, you may want to leave it
to a trained outboard mechanic.
John Tiger, an outboard master technician,
got his first outboard at age seven, and
has owned more than 60 boats and
on hand to
you will save
from having to
climb in and
out of the boat
in many cases.