While prepping my boat for the summer, our mechanic discovered the gear oil was milky in our Suzuki 200. He’s calling for a rebuild. I think he’s calling for an IRA. How serious is this situation?

– Kennedy Bollin, Memphis, Tenn.

The answer, unfortunately, ranges from “don’t worry” to “whooooaaa!” The proper way to find out is to remove the lower unit from the engine and perform a pressure/vacuum test. In a gearcase that hasn’t been damaged due to accident or constant submersion in saline water without sacrificial anodes, there are really only three places that normally leak:

Around the propshaft, most often from fishing line getting between the seal and propshaft

Under the water pump assembly

Around the gearcase fill/drain screws. More often than not, I’ve found whoever performed the last gear oil change finished the job by installing one screw with two gaskets, and one with none.

As far as the “rebuild,” be sure you understood he’s calling for replacing internal components, not just “resealing.” Mighty big cost difference! If he’s calling for the former, you need to see exactly why he’s recommending rebuilding.


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