Whether you are a weekend boater for relaxation or a champion sport-fisherman, you will agree that your outboard motor is a crown jewel in need of serious protection. You can ensure that an outboard is securely stored away when not in use, but when out on the water regularly, it makes no sense to take the outboard off continually. The solution to this is a specially designed lock for your outboard motor.
Many outboard motor locks work by covering over and securing the turnbuckles that clamp the motor to the transom, the flat area where the sides of the hull meet at the stern of the boat. A lock and key or a shackle are used to secure the outboard lock to the clamping assembly.
Outboard motors are a high-ticket item thieves commonly target. While the federal government does not track stats specific to boat motor theft, relevant states indicate the number of thefts to be on the rise.
Florida, for example, is the number one state in outboard motors stolen. The state tracks these thefts accordingly. In 2016, Florida authorities recorded 811 stolen motors, up from 643 the year before. This fact is made worse by an only 36% recovery rate.
The security of your engine will be a great concern, of course. There is, though, another issue these type of motor locks help with. During normal boat usage, the turnbuckles can become loose and slowly unwind themselves. This has resulted in outboards dropping out of position. A lock will prevent this type of costly occurrence.
The following guide will help you to identify and compare the top outboard motor locks available on the market today.
Top 5 Model Comparison Table
.75” long, 5/8” Hex
.75” long, 5/8” Hex
Best Outboard Motor Locks Reviewed
The Panther Marine 75-8201 High-Security Outboard Motor Lock is made from premium grade 300-series stainless steel. The inner lock and its workings are made from brass. These metals aid in rust resistance.
The recessed, solid-design lock is made for easy installation and noise reduction. Double-sided foam inserts (included) also tamp down on noise.
Thick and heavy, it features theft protection of the lock itself with its anti-drill design. Two non-duplicable keys are included.
It features a sleek, attractive, stainless steel look.
Works with many makes and models of outboard motors.
- Stainless steel and brass construction for rust resistance
- Noise and rattle issues are reduced
- Key must be in unlock position and lock pulled hard
#2. Amarine Made
The Amarine Made Hi-Security Outboard Motor Lock is made of heavy-duty stainless steel. The lock is made of brass. This cuts on the corrosion possible from being exposed to a salt-water area.
Very similar design to the Panther entry, it features the easy to install, box-type design. The difference being the rounded top for tamper resistance.
Made to work with many makes and models of outboards, the clamp slot is adjustable. The lock mechanism is made to work with many bolt diameters.
Its heavy-duty and Hi-Security design is bright and highly visible.
The product includes the lock and a set of two keys.
- Slick, stainless design
- Brass lock with corrosion control
- Adjustable, fits most outboards
- Not as thick as competing brands
- May be at risk of prying open
#3. McGard 74037
The McGard 74037 Marine Single Outboard Motor Lock is designed with Yamaha and Honda type outboards in mind, but it works on many other types and brands as well.
The design is different than the others discussed in this guide. It is made in the style of a locknut, where it locks onto one of the bolts that secure the motor onto the transom.
In this way, it is like the lugs that lock your tire and rim to your car, and it requires a “key” nut to remove. This is included with the product.
The collar of the lock is free spinning to deter thieves who try and use gripping tools to get around it.
The lock is made for an M12 x 1.25 thread sized bolt. The head is a 5/8” Hex type.
The kit includes the locknut, key nut, and a tube of thread lock adhesive for added protection.
The McGard 74037 is made from high-grade stainless steel.
- Simple to use - just remove the mounting nut and replace with the McGard Lock
- Stainless steel construction
- The spinning collar security measure isn't as strong as suggested
#4. Fulton OML 0127
The Fulton OML 0127 Outboard Motor Lock has the familiar style of the first two entries. It is a two-part steel box enclosing a lock. Included keys unlock the OML 0127.
The main difference is that it is made of steel and not the stainless variety. It has a black paint finish to provide some protection from the elements.
Easy to use, it works with most turnbuckle type outboard motors.
The Fulton lock comes with foam inserts to reduce noise and rattling.
The manufacturer lists a five-year limited warranty on the OML 0127.
- Lightweight and easy to use
- Mounts on most outboards
- Noise and vibration addressed
- Sometimes shakes loose after normal use
- A light design that is more prone to being broken into
#5. McGard 74049
The McGard 74049 Marine Single Outboard Motor Lock Set is the expanded version of its family member earlier on this list.
It works, of course, in the same way by being used as a secure replacement for one of the mounting nuts.
It boasts the same stainless-steel strength. It also features the free-spinning collar to deter theft.
This product is also packaged with the .750” length locknut, the 5/8” Hex head “key” nut, and the tube of thread lock adhesive.
This package, though, provides a stainless steel, 5/16" - 18 thread size bolt for any necessary swap-outs.
- Simple to install - just swap out the existing nut and bolt
- Made of stainless steel for rust resistance
- Not as strong as other competing products
Locks for Outboard Motors Buying Considerations
Outboard motor locks can be as varied as the engines they are used to protect. Consider a few things before you purchase. Especially the usage of your outboard and your particular security concerns.
First, are you using your boat motor in a primarily saltwater or freshwater setting? Is your investment particularly vulnerable to theft? Then you must test the metal, pun intended.
Any outboard lock worth its weight will be constructed of high-grade stainless steel. Stainless offers great resistance to corrosion. The lock and inner workings being made of brass is a bonus, too, for the same reason.
A well-cared-for stainless lock will not have to be replaced very often, if at all.
Likewise, stainless, especially thicker gauges, offers more resilience to tampering by thieves and other ne’er-do-wells. Look for one that is designed to withstand usual methods of trickery.
Think, too, of the heft and appearance. A heavier duty, thickly gauged lock will do more to deter any, say, curious passerby.
Think about how your outboard is mounted to your transom. Is it mounted vertically or horizontally? If the former, a locknut like the McGard might be more useful for you.
If the latter, the dual turnbuckle style, the two-part stainless-steel box will be more appropriate for your needs.
Consider that your lock, just like your valuable outboard motor, is also an investment of your leisure or livelihood. Care and maintenance are required just as much as your boat and motor. Be careful to keep it clean and lubricated.
Ease of Use
Finally, consider ease of use. All the locks mentioned in this guide are ready to use right out of the box. Most are designed to be compatible with many different makes and models of outboard motors.
The matter of protecting your valuable property, especially your outboard engine, is nothing to shake a rod at.
It is an investment, be it an investment in your family’s recreational entertainment, or your business based on the lakes and rivers or at sea. Looking at you, fishing guides.
Make it a good practice to care for that investment. The right outboard motor lock for you is durably constructed of high-quality metals. It mounts easily and reliably and is simple to care for. Again, oil up that lock the same as you would your engine.
Most of all, a heavy-duty outboard lock will provide you much-needed peace-of-mind.
There is no security measure that is completely foolproof. Though, it is well known that a formidable show of protection is a powerful agent to deter those with bad intentions.
Keep the honest folks honest, so you fine folks can spend more time out on the water. An ancient mariner might have said that once.