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Can You Fill Lower Unit Oil from the Top

Can You Fill Lower Unit Oil from the Top

The answer to this question is a definite no- You cannot fill your lower unit oil by pouring it in from the top, although that seems easier if you have never done this before.

The lower unit of a boat’s outboard motor has two fill/drain holes: one on the top and one on the bottom.

If you try filling the lower unit with oil from the top, the oil will simply spill over. This is because oil is thick, and because it is thick, it traps the air inside your empty lower unit as you pour.

With nowhere for the air to go, there’s nowhere for the oil to go but all over the ground.

On the other hand, if you try to fill the lower unit with the hole at the bottom open, the oil will enter the top fill hole and immediately come back out.

The proper way to fill your lower unit with oil

Whether you’re winterizing, de-winterizing, or just performing maintenance on your lower unit, it’s crucial to make sure that the lower unit oil is at the correct level and in good condition.

See also: Milky lower unit oil, what do I do?

So, what is the proper way to fill the oil in a boat’s lower unit? The answer is simple – you need to leave both holes open and pump the oil in from the bottom. As the oil starts to come out of the top hole, you can then close the top hole while leaving the pump attached.

Once the top fill hole is closed, you can detach the pump from the drain hole.

Yes, some oil will come out, but if you work quickly and have the plug ready to insert once the pump is removed, the spillage will be minimal as there is no way for air to get in with the top-fill hole closed.

This process may sound complicated, but it’s actually quite easy to understand and carry out. The video above will be super helpful if this is your first time changing the oil in your lower unit.


  • How often should you change your lower unit oil?

    Lower unit oil should be changed every 100 hours of operation.

  • Can you use regular gear oil in a lower unit?

    You can use regular gear oil in an outboard boat engine’s lower unit, but it isn’t recommended. The reason is that marine lower unit/gear oil is designed specifically for the lower unit’s environment, and standard gear oil is not. If you wish to have the most protection for your lower unit, use a marine-grade quality gear oil.

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Steve Momot

Steve is an accomplished professional photographer and marketer who specializes in the Fishing, Yacht, and Boating industry. With a strong presence as an influencer and marketing expert in the Marine Industry, he has made a significant impact in the field. Additionally, Steve is the original creator and co-founder of Sportfishtrader. Prior to his career as a marine photographer, he gained extensive experience as a licensed boat and car dealer in South Florida.

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