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Jack-Plate Maintenance

Our jack plates can give you the performance you want from your boat, improving hole shot, maintaining water pressure and reducing hull lift. However, like anything mechanical, these plates can develop issues over time if they aren’t cared for. Here’s how to maintain jack plates using a combination of regular maintenance, cleaning and lubrication so you can avoid or fix most common problems.

What Do I Need To Do to Maintain My Jack Plate?

As with any piece of equipment, keeping up with jack-plate maintenance can save you from having trouble down the road.

Always rinse the plate off after taking your boat out, especially if you were boating in saltwater. While aluminum doesn’t rust, corrosion can turn the outside of your plate into aluminum oxide. This leaves a rough, chalky, expanded surface that makes it hard for the plate to move up and down. Rinsing also removes any surface dirt, keeping it from building up and interfering with the plate’s operation.

Check the tightness of the mounting bolts periodically. Over time, vibrations can loosen these fasteners. You should also check any wiring connections. What may seem like a damaged or dirty plate may just be a faulty connection between the plate’s hydraulics, the battery and the up/down switch.

When you store your boat, keep the plate in its lowest position. This takes stress off of the mounting hardware. It also saves wear and tear on the cylinder and lines used on hydraulic plates.

Do I Need To Clean My Jack Plate?

Most problems with shaking and sticking jack plates can be traced to dirt. Even a thin layer of dust can be enough to increase friction between the plates and rollers, keeping them from moving past each other. Shaking occurs when this buildup creates friction. In some spots, buildup increases the force required to move the plate. Once past this spot, the force needed to move the plate returns to normal. This sticking isn’t always consistent. Your jack plate may move in one direction freely but stick and shake when moving in the other direction. Other times, it may stick going up and down but in different spots.

To clean your jack plate, raise it to its highest position. Apply a layer of biodegradable dish soap to all surfaces, then lower the plate. Over time, this soap will bond to the surface dirt. You can raise the plate and rinse off the soap and dirt, or just let the water do the work for you when you take your boat out again.

Do I Need To Lubricate My Jack Plate?

If cleaning isn’t enough to eliminate shaking when you move your outboard, it’s time to lubricate your jack plate. The lubricant you choose should not be oil- or grease-based. Silicone spray is ideal, as it’s able to penetrate the part and create a waterproof film. Water displacers like WD-40 can remove dirt, but they don’t leave behind a long-lasting layer of lubricant. If you use these products, follow them with silicone spray on the slides and rollers.

Greasing jack plates isn’t recommended. Grease can hold onto sand, salt and grit, wearing down metal surfaces prematurely.