How to Adjust Outboard Motor Control Cables

by Kyle McBride

Outboard motors are controlled with levers at the helm. Engine control levers push or pull on cables that carry the lever motion to the engine and gearbox. Cable adjustment is crucial to proper engine and gearbox control and response. Improperly adjusted cables can prevent the engine from developing full rpm and prevent the gearbox from going fully into gear or from engaging at all. Partially engaged gearboxes can quickly wear themselves out, requiring the replacement of expensive gears. Cables require periodic maintenance in the form of lubrication and replacement due to wear with heavy use.

Throttle Adjustment

1

Loosen the throttle cable adjuster jam-nut with the wrenches. Extend or contract the adjuster until the cable moves the throttle to the idle position.

2

Push the control lever forward to the "Forward idle" position. Ensure that the throttle position does not change at the motor.

3

Pull the control lever back, through neutral, into the reverse idle position. Ensure that the throttle position does not change at the motor.

4

Push the throttle to the "Full forward" position. Ensure that the throttle arm at the motor travels to the throttle stops. Move the cable to a lower hole on the control if the lever travel is insufficient to reach full throttle. Tighten the jam-nut on the throttle cable with the wrenches.

Gearbox Cable

1

Adjust the gearbox control cable. Place the control lever in the neutral position. Loosen the jam-nut on the cable adjuster with the wrenches. Extend or collapse the adjuster until the shift arm on the engine is in the neutral position.

2

Push the control to the "Forward idle" position. Ensure that the gearbox actuator moves fully into the forward position.

3

Pull the control to the "Reverse idle" position. Ensure that the gearbox actuator moves fully into the reverse position. Move the control cable to a lower hole if the lever range is too short to fully engage the gearbox. Tighten the cable adjuster jam-nut with the wrenches.

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