how to lube steering cable on boat

How To Lube Steering Cable On Boat? 4 Simple Steps To Get The Job Done

Introduction

Is your stiff steering cable bothering you? Then you should get it lubricated as soon as possible. But not knowing how to do so can be exasperating. Don’t worry, this isn’t anything that a DIYer like you can’t do! And that’s why we’re here to walk you down the entire process.

So, how to lube steering cable on boat?

First, unbolt the steering link arm. Then clean it with penetrating grease and good quality sandpaper. After that replace the old nut with a Zerk fitting nut. Finally grease the steering cable. Be careful if this is your first time using power tools. 

Although this is a preview, it should be enough for a professional. But if you’re a newbie, we advise you to jump into our detailed guidelines.

Let’s cut the chit-chat and advance to the details, shall we?

Why Is My Steering Cable So Stiff?

There are numerous reasons why your steering cable might be stiff. If your boat has been sitting out for a while then lack of maintenance might be a reason. 

Then again, your steering cable might have corroded over time. When the corrosion gradually settles, it makes the steering cable stiff. But you can fix it according to the severity by scrubbing and greasing.

Another reason might be grease sneaking into your support tubes. Support tubes are usually located near the grease fittings on the engine. On rare occasions, the grease might sneak into the support tubes and consequently cause stiffness. If this isn’t resolved on time, you might have to spend a pretty penny on replacements.

Finally, if your steering is abnormally stiff, check if there’s enough grease on the motor. Grease makes the components active and functional. The lack of grease might cause sudden fixation of your steering cable. We advise you to grease that area every 6 months to 1 year.

Step-by-Step Guide to Lubricate Your Steering Cable

We promise you it’s as easy as pie. You’ll just need some power tools and a good guideline. We’ve divided the entire process into 4 simple stages. Buckle up and grab your power tools cause we’re about to get this journey started!

Necessary Equipment

Your work time will stretch if you have to fetch the tools during the process. So you must acquire the listed tools before jumping into the task-

  • Goggles
  • Drill machine
  • Grease gun
  • Marine grease
  • 9/16 inch socket wrench
  • Bore cleaning kit
  • Nut with Zerk fitting
  • Pliers
  • Sandpaper 
  • Stainless steel tilt tube
  • Vice

Now that we have all the tools, just remove the steering wheel and get started-

Step 1 of 4: Remove The Steering Tilt Tube Bolts

Disconnect the tilt tube from the outboard engine using the recommended wrench. The steering arm should then be removed from the tube and sanded. 

Sanding the steering arm will remove any unwanted residue or corrosion.

Step 2 of 4: Clean The Engine’s Tilt Tube

After sanding the steering arm, clean any grease that has solidified in the tube. Spritz the tube’s insides with a good penetrating grease.

Grab a rod from your bore cleaning kit and thread a piece of sandpaper in it. Now attach that rod to your drill machine and secure it into a vice. Then slowly run the rod through the tube to clean it.

Keep in mind, if the tube is badly rusted, you need to replace it. Replacing the tube will ensure better durability and performance.

Step 3 of 4: Replace The Old Nut

Replace the existing nut on your tilt tube with a Zerk fitting nut. Zerk fitting nuts have different grease gun fittings. This makes future greasing much easier. Now just tighten the nut with your plier to conclude the replacement process.

Here are some good quality nuts with Zerk fitting that you could choose from:

Product-1
Product-2

Step 4 of 4: Grease The Steering Cable

Finally, take your grease gun and lube the cable through the grease fitting. Check your user manual and use the marine grease recommended by the manufacturer.

And there you have it, folks! That’s how you should lube your precious steering cables in 4 short steps!

Special Tips

To make our guide worth the while, here are some tips that could come in handy-

You can use a mixture of ultra-slick assembly lube and SAE 30 motor oil. Remember, this only applies if your manufacturer hasn’t recommended any other lubricant.

We advise you not to force lubricants into your steering cable’s plastic jacket. Most manufacturers lube the steering cables thoroughly to make sure it lasts you a lifetime. Using any unrecommended lube might do bad rather than good.

If your steering cable is stuck, don’t try to loosen it with your helm. This might damage the gears of your helm.

If your steering cable’s plastic jacket is damaged, try sealing it with MarineTex or JB Weld.

Congratulations! You’ve made it all the way to the end of our discussion. We’re certain that with our guide and tips there won’t be any further complications.

FAQs

Question: Should I switch to a steering system with hydraulic power?

Answer: Hydraulic power steering systems come with a lot of hassle. They require hoses, hydraulic fluids, power steering pumps, drive belts and much more. They also need a considerable amount of energy and aren’t very environmentally friendly. So we suggest you stick to your current steering system. 

Question: Is marine grease toxic?

Answer: Marine grease is somewhat toxic. It won’t cause critical health risks if inhaled. But it can and will cause severe irritation to your eyes. So wear safety goggles while working. However, if marine grease is ingested, please seek medical assistance.

Question: How much will reinstating a steering cable cost?

Answer: The cost varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and the model of your boat. The price can range from $100 to several hundred dollars.

Conclusion

Thanks for being with us. We hope our guide has made it clear how to lube steering cable on boat. We’re confident that you can easily lubricate your steering cable now. 

Don’t hesitate to contact us for further inquiries. See you next time!

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