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How to Unfreeze A Boat Steering Cable – Diagnosing and Unblocking

by James Antony | Last Updated: 21st October 2020

Imagine you have gone out with your friends or family at a nearby lake to spend some enjoyable time with them when you realize that your boat is not responding at all to your steering wheel. It may seem to be simple but ultimately prove to be quite a challenge if you do not know how to unfreeze a boat steering cable.

Before you decide to visit the closest repair or marina shop, you should, however, first try to diagnose the steering cable and fix it all by yourself. Here, you will learn a lot about How to Unfreeze A Boat Steering Cable.


Inadequate grease

If the steering of your board is stiff, you should check if there is enough grease on your motor. One of the most important and necessary elements is grease. This allows the other components to keep functioning and moving as they are supposed to.

Without grease or enough lubrication, the steering wheel will freeze and you will find it difficult to move it or turn it.

Check for the powerhead where your motor pivots situate on the shaft. Many well-greased nipples will promote unrestricted and smooth movements. The golden thumb rule is that you grease this specific area once a year.

How to Unfreeze A Boat Steering Cable


Corrosion of the steering cable

Another very common reason why the steering cable of your boat may be stiff or frozen is because of the presence of steering cable corrosion. When corrosion and rust start to settle on the cable, it may lead to restriction of its normal movement.

Hence, this causes frozen of stiffness in the steering cable. This is quite problematic, especially in saltwater boats since salt tends to speed up the process of corrosion and rusting, and at the same time, it leaves grains of salt behind.

Based on the degree of corrosion, you can clean the steering cable simply by using a scrubber. There are various high-quality cleaning products for your motor that works in wonderous ways.

However, if you find that corrosion or rust has already eaten up your steering cable, the best alternative is to get it replaced with a new one.

Grease that enters the support tubes

You will find support tubes situated on the top of the engine. These contain grease fittings. In certain cases, the grease of the fittings gets sucked into these support tubes and this leads to a phenomenon called hydraulic lock in which the grease gets pumped up through a cable jacket. Unfortunately, there is only one way of fixing this problem and that is by replacing the cable entirely.

These are some of the most common ways by which you can unfreeze the steering cable of your boat. However, the reasons do not end here.

How to Unfreeze A Boat Steering Cable

You may experience engine-related problems, such as sticky steering. A quick way of checking this is to disengage the cable from your tilt tube. If you find that the helm is moving freely, then the problem is probably coming from the engine pivot which is most likely to be stiffened due to the absence of lubrication.

The solution to this problem is to simply grease the pivot points of the engine regularly.

If you find any visible fluid leakage in the hydraulics, you must immediately check for any sign of air in your steering system. Also, check if the ram shaft is wet. In that case, wipe the damp area and check again.

If there are leaks, it will lead to corrosion. And the solution is to replace the corroded seals and you will also need to blow out any excess from the hydraulic system.

How to Unfreeze A Boat Steering Cable

The hydraulic system will work efficiently only when the oil is uncontaminated. But if there is abrasive dirt present in the oil, it can compromise the complete operation. If you do not pay attention to this, it will cause dust, debris, and dirt to get into the oil and hoses during installation.

The solution to this problem is to replace the dirty oil if you want the optimal function of the steering. You must, however, change the oil once every 5 years or as it is recommended by your manufacturer. You must change the oil even if it is not contaminated.

Did you like our How to Unfreeze A Boat Steering Cable post? Please comment and don’t forget to check our other posts – Fluke 902 Review could be interesting for you!

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