Importance of Power Tilt And Trim Maintenance
It's easy to overlook the importance of the lean and tilt unit onto your Yamaha outboard motor, but it is among the most indispensable components for getting the best performance from your own boat and motor. Tilt and trim adjust the angle of the engine and so the surface of the boat, so that they decide the smoothness of the ride, so the clasp onto the water, the capacity to jump plane and many other operations that you often don't even consider.
For example, when working across a lake in which you need to run through a lot of heavy marijuana, the ability to cut your engine level (about halfway up) allows you to avoid yanking weeds into your water consumption and overheating the engine. The same holds for running in rough seas where the ability to trim the engine all the way down allows you to keep the bow close to the water so that you end up with a smoother ride and do not pound into the waves.
Whenever your tilt and trim doesn't work, you know it right away. It's then that you start to realize just how much you rely on your tilt and trim on a daily basis to get normal vessel operation.
It is easy to do, and many times just involves a good visual and a fluid level inspection. That said, there are parts of the system I still attend to on a monthly basis.
Because I'm running round the nation fishing championships and towing my boat over dirt, sand, and dust on a regular basis. I try to grease the top of the rams on the tip on a regular basis. From the back battery of my ship, I have a little storage compartment where I always keep a tube of Yamalube Marine Grease convenient, and every time that I open that compartment it disturbs me to look at my trim unit.
I utilize Yamalube Marine Grease since it is made to withstand the saltwater surroundings, which I consider the toughest spot for anything made of metal. I'll just squeeze just a tiny bit of dirt in my fingers and rub it on the tops of this trim rams and their contact points on the mount pads.
Grease gets damaged or rubbed off and washed down all the time, and you're going to understand when the rams are dry since they have a tendency to rub or make friction when raising and lowering the motor. You will understand, too, when you hear a kind of a screeching noise, that's the alloy of the rams rubbing against the foundation. The minute you put a little grease on them, the sound goes away.
As long as you're applying grease to the trim rams, you could too inspect them for escapes, which can be a frequent problem with power tilt and trim systems. Hydraulic fluid can be a burgundy or clear color and has an extremely low viscosity, so if there's any way in order for it to escape from the machine, it'll. On occasion the actuator ram seals will leak and the liquid will probably be around the base of the ram, or drip down around the power tilt and trim engine.
An electric pump runs the hydraulic fluid in the power tilt and tilt system, and if you get a flow, the hydraulic fluid will ooze out and allow air to substitute it in the system. When that happens, the engine will usually tilt all the way down and will not go up or will stick.
Hydraulic fluid doesn't evaporate, so if you're able to listen to the trimming motor running but your outboard won't lean up, you likely have a leak. You can substitute the liquid as a short-term fix, but you'll probably have to get the leak fixed by a Yamaha Certified Mechanic, although occasionally the leak is so tiny that it takes a few months for sufficient fluid to leak out of the machine to impact the power tilt and trim hydraulics.
If you find any fluid in the rams or the motor is stuck in the down position, you may easily add hydraulic fluid to the system. I use Yamalube Performance Power Tilt and Trim Fluid because it's non-foaming so you don't get any air trapped in it, and it is designed to withstand the extreme heat and high pressures which happen inside the hydraulic system.
When I change the power tilt and tilt fluid or add fluid, then I will trim the motor all the way up then put down the motor safety clip, so when I open the machine the engine can't accidentally fall down. If the motor won't trim up, it is possible to discharge the trimming lock by turning the manual trimming discharge screw on the port side of the engine mount, then lift the engine by hand and use the engine safety clip to lock this up. This will ensure the fluid will be at an even level when you add fluid into the machine.
Then you just remove the hydraulic fluid fill screw near the top of the trim reservoir and then add fluid till it begins to overflow. Then trim the motor up and down, try to bring a little more fluid and then trim it down and up again. Do this several times to bleed all the air out of the machine, and then put the hydraulic fluid fill screw back , wipe off the excess fluid and your power tilt and trim ought to do the job. After you refill the machine, if the ram functions but won't hold the motor up, you probably have a major leak or a bad check valve and need to get your motor into a Yamaha Certified Mechanic immediately.
As time passes, the power tilt and trim motors can experience corrosion, especially if you operate your boat in saltwater. 1 way to prevent this is to keep the trim rams fully retracted when not being used.
Should you reach the ramp and the engine is halfway up, but will not go either way when you press on the trim button, you might have a rust build-up issue. Sometimes you can bang on the power tilt and tilt motor with the mind of a wrench or screwdriver and it'll knock some of the rust off the brushes and the motor will then go down and up.
The final thing I do as standard maintenance in my power tilt and tilt unit is scrutinize the rams for rust, which can cause friction and excess wear. If you trim the engine up for a prolonged period or store it, the rust can adhere to the ram tubes and the engine may lock tight, but that's fairly rare. Additionally, it may cut the seals on the trim cylinders if they retract. Most of the time, however, the corrosion is minimal and may be wiped or brushed off and then greased to prevent additional issues.
So long as you are there, you may as well check the zinc anode to see if it needs to be substituted or has come loose and has to be tightened. If the zinc anode shows signs of wear, then you should replace it instantly. Whether there are some bonding straps in the area, check them, too.
Do these tiny maintenance operations and you'll prevent deeper power tilt and trim issues down the road. If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, a half an hour of maintenance is easily worth an afternoon or more in the vessel mechanic.