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Author Topic:   Consumer Reports for Outboard Engines
cindalyn posted 05-31-2008 05:43 PM ET (US)   Profile for cindalyn   Send Email to cindalyn  
Are there any consumer reports available, either on the internet or published, for outboard engines? I'd like to see some side-by-side comparisons that are based on performance tests, maintenance reports, trade-in values, etc.

I still have an itch to put a 90 or 115 HP on my 17' Outrage. I really shouldn't do it but if I could get a good deal - who knows!

I know if I ask which is best on CW I'll get a lot of openions which are too hard to sort out.


TransAm posted 05-31-2008 08:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
My advice would be to put a pair of Yamaha 225's on there. I just happen to have 2 for sale. Interested? :-).
TransAm posted 05-31-2008 09:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
Seriously, I think until someone lines up say 5 identical hulls, and rigs 5 competing outboards in the same class, with the same HP, and runs them all through the exact same tests, on the exact same body of water, under the exact same conditions, and has a true independent authority there to record the results, you will always have biased test results. The claims of each independent maunfacturer are all pie in the sky.

Pick a motor with a sales department close by that has a trusted reputation and master technicians.

Casco Bay Outrage posted 05-31-2008 09:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Casco Bay Outrage  Send Email to Casco Bay Outrage     
I don't think there is a single independent source.

I have learned with new motors, it is the subtle details, proximity of the dealer, rigging cost and weight that helps filter your choices.

For the Outrage 17 I, I would stay away from any motor over 375 lbs. My Yamaha 115 is 402 dry. Too much in my opinion.

A quick check on a few engine weights (in no order)

Under 375 lbs:

Yamaha 90 4s 369
Yamaha 115 2s 358
Yamaha 90 2s 261

Honda 90 EFI 359 lbs

Evinrude ETEC 115 375 lbs
Evinrude ETEC 90 320 lbs

Tohatsu 90 315 lbs

Over 375 lbs

Yamaha 115 4s 402

Mercury 4stroke 90 and 115 is 399 lbs

Honda 115 - 496 lbs

Tohatsu 115 392 lbs

Suzuki 115 416 lbs
Suzuki 90 416 lbs

sosmerc posted 05-31-2008 09:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for sosmerc  Send Email to sosmerc     
I agree with TransAm.....finding a dealer and technician that you have faith in close to home is the key. ALL outboards need service to run properly and dependably so pick a brand that can be serviced in your area. Once you find a dealer you trust, quizz his technician as to which model will serve you best. Believe me, I will not sell one of my customers something I DO NOT want to service. Every brand has their good ones and their bad ones...
skiff posted 05-31-2008 11:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for skiff  Send Email to skiff     
All brand new motors are comparable. It always comes down to who's the best dealer in your area. I would make the decision almost solely on that fact. You'll waste a lot of time trying over-analyze each motor and their attributes. Pick your best dealer, get a fair deal, be able to count on their backup and service; end of story. It doesn't get any better than that.
fourdfish posted 05-31-2008 11:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
No Consumer Reports exist for outboards. Also, no real reliable tests exist to compare outboards. However, some real
reliable data does exist from the manufactures such as weight, top rpms, and emission tests are available to help you decide.
Dealer availability is very important along with certification for the engines you are interested. Some dealers will sell engines they are not certified to work on.
jimh posted 06-01-2008 12:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I have noticed a reduction in the publication of so-called "shoot out" tests by magazines. It has become too difficult to conduct actual head-to-head testing in which there is a completely level playing field.

Also, anyone who thinks that Consumer Reports provides unbiased testing is naive. They've got their biases, and their results tend to show them.

AZdave posted 06-01-2008 01:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for AZdave  Send Email to AZdave     
Consumer Reports is great at refrigerators and digital cameras, They falter on products that have nuance and subtlety. My favorite was a binocular test consisting of reading newspapers in a gymnasium. I am mostly looking for game while looking into the sun near dawn or dusk. It's all about off axis light baffling rather than theoretical resolution. I agree with all of the above. Go with your gut feeling about a dealer and service department. Dave
swist posted 06-01-2008 06:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
Consumer Reports has its flaws, but in boating we have nothing at all.

At the very least it would be nice to see an outboard version of the "frequency of repair" stats Consumer Reports regularly provides for cars. I would not suspect any bias in those numbers as they are simple statistical reports from owners - made possible only because the huge volume of automobiles allows statistically significant samples to be taken. (They do state if they don't feel they have enough data for a particular model).

For outboards, I can only rely on anecdotal evidence from various sources, Intertnet and otherwise. Based on that I could make a case that every outboard ever made is either lousy or great. It drives me nuts.

TransAm posted 06-01-2008 08:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
There is another boating website forum that actually tracks threads and posts for engine repair. They are presented in 3 major brand groupings, Yamaha/Suzuki, Mercury/Mariner & Evinrude/Johnson (a few other brands are reflected as well). The numbers for threads started and posts to the threads reflect the same percentages. Yamaha/Suzuki have the lowest thread/post rate, followed by Mercury/Mariner at 3 times more, then Evinrude/Johnson at 6 times more. If these numbers remotely reflect repair frequency, Yamaha/Suzuki wins the reliability battle hands down. I have found this to be the case personally, having owned 7 V-6 Yamahas since 1986 and had only 1 major repair (powerhead) outside of norman maintenance. My experience has certainly colored my view of outboards in terms of brand, but if I were buying new, I would not hesitate to look at E-tec and Verado.
fourdfish posted 06-01-2008 09:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
There is no way to tell on the internet if a post is bogus or real. Even reviews on restaurants, cars, computers and other items have fake reviews. Some are actually done by the manufactures etc.
jimh posted 06-01-2008 09:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The proposed measurement of engine reliability from the number of articles which appear in on-line discussion forums asking for advice on making repairs is flawed. While I agree that more people ask for advice on repairs to OMC or Mercury motors than for Yamaha motors, this is not a good measure of the reliability of the brands.

To use repair question volume as a measure of reliability, you would have to scale it in proportion to the number of motors in use. I would make the representation that there are far more old OMC motors still running and in use than there are Mercury or Yamaha, and this explains why the volume of repair questions is highest for OMC motors. This is quite reasonable, in my opinion, as the oldest Yamaha motor only goes back to c.1980, while there are OMC and Mercury motors from c.1950 still in use. Also, the market share of Yamaha was tiny compared to Mercury and OMC until just recently, so the population of old motors is enormously higher for Mercury and OMC than for Yamaha.

To use repair question volume as a measure of reliability, you would have to scale it in proportion to the number of people who are trying to make their own repairs. I would make the representation that there are more people trying to repair their own motors who own OMC or Mercury brands than Yamaha. This is influenced by several factors, including the availability of parts and service information. Until just a few years ago Yamaha would not sell a service manual to anyone except an authorized dealer. It is hard to repair a motor if you cannot get the service manual. Also, parts for Yamaha motors are not as easily sourced as parts for domestic brands. Also, Yamaha would not sell some parts to customers. All of these factors influence the trend for an owner to try to make his own repairs on a motor, and collectively they tend to reduce the number of inquiries about repairs to Yamaha motors in on-line discussion forums.

TransAm posted 06-01-2008 11:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
While the statistics noted above are certainly not scientific, I did think they were interesting. And while there are without a doubt other factors at work here, I suspect brand loyalists will take from this what they wish to. I, personally, would be hard pressed to explain a 3-fold and 6-fold gap away though. In my part of the boating world (middle and upper Chesapeake Bay), Yamaha seems to dominate the water, both in terms of shear numbers, but also in reliability. My shop services both.

With the operative word in my conclusion being "If", people will likley take what they want from the numbers, or perhaps dismiss them all together as simply unscientific, anecdotal evidence. However, one thing is for sure. The outboard motor industry underwent somewhat of a revolution in the 1980's with the introduction of competition from the Japanese, much the same way the auto industry did. There was a reason the Japanese motors almost immediately grabbed a large market share of the industry-reliability.

With that said, American outboards, as did American automobiles, have became much more reliable and are better for it. Today, there is probably very little difference in overall reliability between outboard brands. Many share parts and in some cases, entire motors. So I will stick to my original recommendation. Find a local dealer with a proven track record and master tech's, and develop a relationship with them. Make sure they know your name and face. Even with the increased reliability of today's motors, you will likley need them for regular maintenance and perhaps more. Send them a Christmas card, buy the tech's coffee. Make them your friend. It will likley shave a week off your repair time and some $$$ too.


P.S. I meant to say I would consider E-tec and Optimax-I'm a 2-stroke dinosaur.

jimh posted 06-01-2008 11:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
It is equally plausible that the reason there are more inquiries about repair to older OMC motors than for older Mercury motors is that there are no surviving old Mercury motors to repair; they have all been discarded. Without some mechanism for equalizing the number of motors involved, there is no reasonable way to make an inference about the rate of repair. To establish a rate of repair one must know the number of motors and the number of repairs. To make a judgment using only the number of repairs is flawed.
TransAm posted 06-01-2008 12:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
I think I acknowledged the flaw, and that folks would take from the unscientific data what they wanted. Since doing what you suggest Jim is impossible, we have only this type of data to consider, if we consider any at all. And that if fine as too; to each his own.

However, there is no denying the unreliability of American made motors in the 1980's....unless you just don't want to see it. Why else did Japaneese motors enjoy so much success so quickly? Certainly not because they looked better or had some space age technology.

All of this seems to be moot anyway, if we accept my premise that today's motors are, for the most part, equally reliable. Unless you are considering buying a motor from the 1980's, in which case we can throw all this stuff out the window.

jimh posted 06-01-2008 04:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Another influence in the volume of questions seen in on-line discussion forums is the quality of the answers given. For some reason, a very knowledgeable group of expert participants who are willing to provide advice in these forums about OMC motors has assembled. This tends to increase participation in those forums and for those brands.

Again, I am not making an argument that Yamaha motors are not reliable, but just that you cannot measure their frequency of repair based on on-line discussions. Incidentally, I have owned Mercury, Yamaha, and Evinrude motors, and have had to make repairs to all of them.

TransAm posted 06-01-2008 06:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
All three brands have been in my family as well. Unfortunately, my only experience with Mercury and Johnson was c. 1980, so the comparison is not apples to apples. The Merc (a 1975 150HP) was a pig that rarely operated properly in the 10 years we owned it. The c. 1965 Johnson 9.9 was better, but left us on the dock many times. Unfortunately, I was old enough to row by then and the family cruiser was a 14' aluminum runabout nicely equipped with oars. So out we rowed.

The forum I cited, as well as another, has certified Yamaha Master tech's graciously offering their time and expertise to folks like me. The frequency of repair in these forums is something I just note and log in the memory banks instead of dismissing it altogether. I posted once here with a Yamaha question and received no responses. When I re-powered this year w/ newer Yamahas I would have considered a pair of Opti's had I not been able to re-use all my rigging and gauges.

So here it is Cindalyn. Not a consumer reports, but rather a report from consumers. Sorry you got (opinions too hard to sort out) what you aksed not to. Good reading though. Good luck!

fourdfish posted 06-01-2008 06:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
This topic has been beaten to death on all the internet forums with no real conclusions. It is probable that no real answer exists.
jgkmmoore posted 06-01-2008 07:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for jgkmmoore  Send Email to jgkmmoore     

WHY would you own 7 V6 engines of the same make in 20 years?? V6's are spendy! Yammies are supposed to be very dependable. How come ya just keep buying them???

I have an old '82 Johnson 140 that weighs only 306 lbs, has only had 3 shop/dealer tuneups in its life, and pushes my '82,18' Outrage 44.9 GPS MPH. That's a lotta bang for the buck...weight wise, and brutal simplicity/dependability
to boot. Gas hog? Yup.

Don't get me wrong, I loooove V6 engines! Almost all of 'em. I just can't come to grips with buying the extra complexity, fuel burn (2 stroke), and WEIGHT penalty.
As much as I love their sound, and their grunt, I just have to give a lot of creds to this ol' 4 banger that is still strong as a horse. As you might have guessed, I'm a dinosaur too....holding out for 2 stroke.I carry a sweet little '82 8hp Johnson to handle the slow stuff.My annual fuel burn overall is about the same as a four stroke owners for a whole lot less $$$$$$$$.And I don't have to plug it into anything to figger out how ta fix sumpthin! I'm an old guy, with old technology, and quite comfortable with it, in spite of all the hoorah of late about new tech stuff.
I got fuel, I got air, I got spark. Gone fishin'!

jgkmmoore posted 06-01-2008 08:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for jgkmmoore  Send Email to jgkmmoore     
So, cindalyn...............

Are you considering new motors only? Or used?
Those old 80s thru about '94? V4's ALL weigh about the same from 80-140hp (about 305-310 lbs). They are like old Chevy or Ford trucks....can't kill 'em with a stick!
A new 90 of any make weighs a ton. How much weight do you want to pay for at the gas pump?

TransAm posted 06-01-2008 09:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
You are correct, v-6's are spendy, unless you buy them right and even then, they are not cheap. However, when you sell a boat, you usually have to include the motors with it, kinda like with a car. Not as much market for one with no engine. V-6's are heavy too. So it's not like you can just twist a couple of clamps and pop that hunk of iron off and throw it in the back of the truck. Wish it were that easy, but it aint.

Yamaha's in the 94 era up to 90 hp were 3 cylinder weighing in at 260 lbs's; 115 HP began the 4 cylinder at 330 lbs. The 130 was only 357 lbs; I suspect the weight differences were due to convenience items such as oil injection, etc. A new Yamaha 90 2-stroke weighs in at only 261 lbs, hardly "a ton".

As for any "real answers", as I clearly pointed out earlier, each of us will take from the stated unscientific, anecdotal data what we individually wish to and make our own conclusions from there. If you wish to take nothing from the data, then so be it. That is fine too. I simply offered up the data.


jimh posted 06-01-2008 11:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If you are using engine repair discussions on for your metric, then you are going to have to also agree that the FORCE outboard is more reliable than YAMAHA. The FORCE shares a forum with CHRYSLER, and there are about the same volume of articles in that forum as in Yamaha. Since the forum is shared with two brands, I suggest the inference that FORCE must be over twice as reliable as YAMAHA.

Now I don't really think that for a minute, but I am just using the volume of questions on a popular engine repair website as my measure, just as has been suggested.

And HONDA must be nine times more reliable than YAMAHA, as its forum (which is shared with two other brands) has only one-third as many articles.

cindalyn posted 06-01-2008 11:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for cindalyn  Send Email to cindalyn     
jgkmmoore, unless something exceptional turns up I’m primarily just considering a new engine. I’m at the age where I’m hopeful that this will be the last engine I’ll buy. I usually buy new cars which last 12 -15 years and I’m hopeful I can do the same with an outboard.

Of course, anything I do depends on how much I can sell my 1999, Evinrude/Suzuki, 50 HP, 4 Stroke, EFI which only has about 100 hours. I bought the Evinrude only because it came with the boat I wanted.

TransAm posted 06-02-2008 07:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
Actually Jim, you are mistaken. Yamaha shares their board with Suzuki. So the biggest leap I could possibly make would be to conclude they are equally reliable, roughly speaking. On second thought, I couldn't do that. Since Chrysler/Force is one motor (different name) and not 2 competing brands like Yamaha & Suzuki, just the opposite would be true. Force/Chrysler has the same repair frequency as two other competing brands (Yamaha/Suzuki) combined suggesting both Yamaha and Suzuki individually have half of repair frequency of Force. So, having a roughly equal number of posts as an engine that has been out of production for almost 10 years should speak volumes for Yamaha/Suzuki. And, since production of Force stopped in 1999, and I haven't even seen a Force or Chrysler outboard in, well, as long as I can remember, I would use this to bolster an argument for Yamaha/Suzuki, not deflate it. In fact, since Force ended up in the hands of Brunswick (Mercury) being produced at their Fond du lac plant for the last 7 years of their production, perhaps we should lump them in with Mercury. But since you can't buy one newer than 1999 model year, I would also conclude there is a reason for that. That is what I would conclude, but that is just me. Others are welcome to conclude differently.

I would also use the same basic logic regarding Honda/Tohatsu. I see them about once or twice a year on the water. I do hear they are quite reliable though. I don't think it necessary to drag Sea King or Gamefisher into the mix. I had not even heard of them unitl I checked the "Other Brand" posts.

I have repeatedly said this was unscientific, anecdotal information which will actually require a person to draw their own unscientific conclusions. If I had made a statement of fact, that would be another thing. My apologies if I did not make this clear. I think I'm done banging my head against the wall here.

jimh posted 06-02-2008 08:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
My Sears-brand TED WILLIAMS air-cooled 5-HP motor (that my dad bought for $99) was still running when I sold it twenty years ago at a garage sale.

There is an old saying: There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

TransAm posted 06-02-2008 08:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
You must have frozen that motor in a cryogenic chamber to preserve it like they did to ole Ted. Poor guy.
skiff posted 06-02-2008 10:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for skiff  Send Email to skiff     
Getting any sort of reliable stats or information on which motor is '....more reliable...' will always be tough in boating. It's tough mainly because the motors are sold to operate in such a heinous environment, that the longevity and reliability will be primarily determined by the level of care slathered upon it by it's owner. And owners come in every flavor from super capable to completely clueless.

Like dirtbikes, once those things leave the showrooms, who knows HOW well well they've been taken care of?

Run is salt water, run in fresh? Cleaned regularly, or only semi-regularly? Properly lubed, or never done? Self perpetuated mechanicals, or factory trained technician serviced? Stored in the sun, or in a garage? Throttled properly, or irresponsibly...? You can add about 120 more factors here, all of which directly affect the motor's ability to perform long and strong. No test or report will ever be able to accurately take all of these considerations into proper assessment.

Likewise with comments posted on internet chat rooms? Who knows the mechanical aptitude or background of those posting? Is their 'take' to be valued, or is it in fact suspect? In the end, it's all gobbletygook. Buy a new motor from the strongest local dealer, take excellent care of it, and in the end, you'll be doing yourself a huge favor and probably get a motor for life in the process.

Tohsgib posted 06-02-2008 12:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
Whatever you do do NOT buy a Mercury, Yamaha, Suzuki, Evinrude, Honda, Tohatsu, or Nissan outboard. If you do you will be slammed by members here left and right for making a poor decision. My bet would be to find Jim's old Sears engine and now you will have 55hp and that should satisfy your desire for speed.
Tohsgib posted 06-02-2008 12:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
PS...I 'may' be interested in your 50 if you decide to repower.
lee101 posted 06-02-2008 04:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for lee101  Send Email to lee101     
[Started an entirely new topic. Begin a new thread to change the topic of discussion to something entirely new.--jimh]
fourdfish posted 06-02-2008 10:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
It is my opinion that skiff hit the nail on the head. His post was on the money and would be hard to refute. Some people here should reread it!
Anyone who uses the internet to review an engine is making a big mistake. So be it!
BTW-- My late uncle's very old Evinrude which I believe was made in the late 30's is still running like brand new.
It has a small gas tank in the top and you turn it all the way around to go in reverse.
TransAm posted 06-02-2008 10:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
I think skiff's recommendation/conclusion was reached in the 3rd and 5th post in this thread, so it need not be re-read.

"Pick a motor with a sales department close by that has a trusted reputation and master technicians.".....TransAm

"I agree with TransAm.....finding a dealer and technician that you have faith in close to home is the key. ALL outboards need service to run properly and dependably so pick a brand that can be serviced in your area. Once you find a dealer you trust, quizz his technician as to which model will serve you best. Believe me, I will not sell one of my customers something I DO NOT want to service. Every brand has their good ones and their bad ones...".....sosmerc.

BTW, the internet sources I receive advice from are Yamaha MASTER technicians or are a verified, authorized Yamaha service facility. Very few of all certified technicians achieve this certification. If you visit Yamaha's website, they are listed with their picture. And, although I believe his ultimate conclusion is correct, I do not believe that advice from a verified master tech is "gobbletygook". To suggest this would be a disservice to them and the accreditation they achieved.

Many in this forum have taken good advice from a poster in this thread (sosmerc). If I were him, I would also take exeption to advice such as his being characterized a "big mistake".

Tohsgib posted 06-02-2008 11:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
Buy a British Seagull....heck of an engine.

PS..I am not a Britsih Seagull certified technician...I just play one on the internet!

If no luck then go with an Eska!

jimh posted 06-03-2008 01:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The discussion is not asking for anecdotal advice on how to buy a motor, it's asking if there is something like CONSUMERS REPORTS, an independent testing organization that does not accept advertising which publishes product reports, and if such a publication provided information on:

--Trade-In Value

The answer is there is not a single publication that does this. There was a publication, POWERBOAT REPORTS, which has ceased operation, which tried to perform a function similar to CONSUMERS REPORTS for powerboat equipment, including, on occasion, outboard motors, which they tested and reported on, even sometimes including long-term testing for over a year. They folded up about two years ago.

There are two magazines which are very strongly oriented toward outboard boating: BASS AND WALLEYE BOAT, and TRAILER BOAT. These magazines have published some head-to-head comparisons of motor performance in the past, however my suspicion is that you are going to see less of that. My opinion is based awareness of how difficult it has become to conduct a truly fair test of motors. First of all, unless the magazine gets the boats and motors for free, it is not financially possible for these organizations to conduct the testing. They simply cannot afford to buy five or six boats and five or six motors just to test. This has resulted in the magazines having to accept equipment supplied by the manufacturers, which in turn has resulted in a lot of very bad feelings about the testing. In some situations it has been seen that the boat brand being tested was very chummy with a certain engine brand, and this caused some suspicions to arise about exactly how identical the boats being tested actually were. In some testing the factory engineers were allowed to participate, and a lot of engine tweaking was occurring. You probably don't realize this, but in a modern engine the whole personality of the engine and its performance is contained in stored computer code. The engines were supposed to be running on the stock, EPA tested and approved, engine set ups. At the end of the test period, some manufacturers would not permit verification of the actual engine codes which were used in the test. This refusal cast a cloud over the results. All this sort of confusion and suspicion could be eliminated if the testing agency just bought off-the-shelf motors and tested them on off-the-shelf boats.

Another problem for the magazines is the amount of time and personnel needed to conduct the testing. To run comparisons of multiple boats will consume a week at least, even if the weather cooperates. It takes a lot of man power and time to conduct good testing. These magazine do not have the resources of a CONSUMERS REPORT organization.

There are many publications which provide performance information (but not head-to-head with other brands), and the manufacturers themselves publish a very great deal of on-water test information about their motors. I believe that as a general rule the manufacturer published data is reliable reporting of boat speed, and in some cases fuel consumption. But the reports are not always directly comparable due to the lack of controls in the testing, such as different weather, temperature, boat load, propellers, water conditions, and so on.

Information published by Boston Whaler about their boat and motor testing has been quite reliable, and most often you hear owners saying they got very similar results. I cannot think of a single case in Boston Whaler test data where an owner has very significant departure from the test data.

Trade-In value is measured by NADA. Visit their website and look up their marine listings of motors. Many feel the data is not valid, and often lists items below their true value. The data is systematically collected.

The only source of information on reliability that seems to have a chance of being even remotely valid or significant is perhaps the J. D. Power and Associates survey which usually includes questions about reliability. The results of the survey that are made public and available for free do not always break down the data so that you can see every motor and every category. You could buy the data if you are really interested. J. D. Power and Associates do not have all their historical data on their website. It is a good idea to save the data each year as it may not be available after the passage of a year or two and the issuance of a new report.

If you want to get recommendations on how to buy a motor, start a new thread and you can get all kinds of advice, But just about everyone will tell you that buying a motor that has a strong dealer in your area with a good repair department is considered wise.

TransAm posted 06-03-2008 06:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
Is seems at though the correct answer to this thread should have been a single word, NO-end of thread. So there you have it.
jimh posted 06-03-2008 07:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I am afraid, again, I completely disagree. There is real information out there about performance, reliability, and trade-in value. It just is not in one single publication. And the information is available on the internet and in printed form. So the answer cannot be "No."

However, generally what happens is that most people fit the real data available into their own notions of brand preferences anyways. I think you can already see that happening here. It began in the first reply in the thread, where the original inquiry was discarded and a brand preference was substituted for an answer.

TransAm posted 06-03-2008 09:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
Since the initial post seemed to specifically aske for a simple, SINGLE publication, such as Consumer Reports, that contained performance tests, maintenance reports, trade-in values, etc., the simple answer, in fact, has to be No. We can agree to disagree on this point. Now you may wish to qualify this answer by adding that there is in fact many other sources and reports on the internet, but I believe the initial post specifically asked not to have to sort through this type of opinion of information, but rather have it in one tidy little package. I will admit I failed to recognize this request, as did others. Perhaps I misunderstood the initial request.

However, I find it unfortunate, though, that personal experience and anectdotal evidence, appropriately qualified, cannot be offered without coming under such blanket condemnation, even if it strayed a bit from topic. But all that was offered beyond a simple response did just that as well. Having to defend a comment meant to assist someone seems rather silly and I am sorry for having entered into this senseless debate. It certainly was not productive and was far more than was asked for.

As for the first reply to the thread, I think most folks would have seen the pure humor in that, especially when the author put a ":-)" at the end of the post. The second response is what you should focus on as well as the last paragraph in my 4th post, at least as far as my responses go, but you chose to ignore them other than to say it is almost impossible conduct any such testing (which I do not believe it is; there seems to be a conscious effort not to do so). The recommendation in that post is valid and was supported by the resident Mercury guru on the forum, as well as others.....Sheesh!

fourdfish posted 06-03-2008 12:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
sosmerc has been a respected member here for a long time.
Far longer than you say you have TransAm. I respect his opinions and he does not put conditions on his posts.
skiffs post pointed out all the factors which affect engine
performance which no one else posted. These are the factors which make engine repair stats a mute point and why internet posts are basically useless when reviewing for engine choice.
Again no real consumer reports type data is available to
review for the best outboard available.
jimh posted 06-03-2008 01:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
There was no requirement that all the data be in once place. All the data about cars is not in one place in CONSUMER REPORTS. It gets spread out among many monthly magazines.

The biggest single difference in marine data is that for the most part it is not provided by independent sources which do not accept advertising. POWERBOAT REPORTS did not accept advertising, but that apparently was their downfall, along with the internet. Once people began to get data from the internet, even anecdotal and unqualified data, they apparently became less interested in buying a periodical that offered independent reviews like POWERBOAT REPORTS. Frankly, I miss POWERBOAT REPORTS. In general I liked the publication. But when given the choice between free (as in the internet) and $50 a year, as in subscribe to POWERBOAT REPORTS, most people apparently went for free.

Ironically, one of the biggest complaints about internet self-published reviews is that people providing data or opinions can be intentionally deceptive. Some people have become such touts for certain brands that they're widely recognized as having a bias. And the same situation also occurs in the negative. You often see attempts to defame a product or brand from out-of-the-blue participants who arrive with an axe to grind.

In the case of magazines which accept advertising, and particularly in the case when the advertising page count is heavily skewed toward a few brands, it is hard for the publisher to keep editorial and advertising completely separated. It is likewise hard for readers to remain completely convinced that the reviews are not written with an eye toward not doing harm to any advertisers, and thus might be more fluff than hardball.

Can you get decent data about performance? Yes. Lots of it.

Can you get decent data about rate of repair? Only very little (from J. D. Power's satisfaction survey data).

Can you get decent data about trade-in value? Yes. The data may not be absolutely accurate, but it is probably consistent enough that you could make comparisons between brands with it.

TransAm posted 06-03-2008 02:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
jim, I assumed (perhaps erroneously) that, since the initial post suggested a lot of opinions would be too hard to sort out, that it would be even harder to research and sort out data from many different internet sources, or even many reports over extended periods of time from a single source.

However, I would still encourage folks to use the repair forums here and elsewhere to their advantage. I think if you take a short time to observe the participants, and the advice given to them by the respective experts, the information can be invaluable. The very occasional yo yo is easily spotted. Having done nothing more than routine maintenance myself over the years, I would hardly call myself a gear head. However, with the committed assistance from a forum I frequent for my brand, I managed the complete re-rigging of 2 large V-6 motors. This included engine removal and replacement, all new steering cables, new hydraulic lines, new tachs, fuel management, speedometer, engine harness wiring, oil injection systems, fuel delivery, new water pumps, poppet valves, new water pressure and temperature gauges, new throttles and ignition systems, complete electrical overhaul of the entire boat and on and on, all in the convenience of my back yard by myself (except lifting those monsters off and on the boat). We’re talking thousands of dollars saved. These experts can also tell you how to spot hidden signs of engine neglect and deferred maintenance, which was helpful to me when I bought newer, used engines at a substantial cost. Is there still some risk-sure. There is risk in everything we do, including buying new. But why not try and at least minimize it instead of dismissing all of this data as unreliable. This was the point for bringing it up in the first place. Not to suggest it was some magic pill to be taken without due consideration. I believe these sources provide valuable information, provided you are capable of analyzing and understanding it in the same manner similar technical advice is offered here. Would you not agree that, if you were thinking of buying a boat, that CW would be a valuable tool to consider if a Whaler was being considered, or dismiss this internet site as unreliable too?

As always, folks are free to do as they choose-no worries here. It has worked wonders for me though-to that there is no debate. Now I will again apologize for somewhat hijacking this thread. Sorry Ron

cindalyn posted 06-03-2008 10:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for cindalyn  Send Email to cindalyn     
Actually I find a lot of valuable information in the previous discourse e.g., a good dealer is important, there is no single source for comparative data and the is data available in the internet subject to interpretation and credability.

Maybe we can branch off a bit and approach it this way

cindalyn posted 06-03-2008 10:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for cindalyn  Send Email to cindalyn     
[Changed topic to entirely new discussion. Please start a new discussion to change the topic. This discussion is about the availabilty of reliable data on the performance, rate of repair, and resale value of outboard motors.--jimh]
TransAm posted 06-05-2008 11:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
[Speculated that Ron had terminated interest in the discussion.]
cindalyn posted 06-05-2008 04:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for cindalyn  Send Email to cindalyn     
[Ron confirmed he was still participating in the discussion.]
goldstem posted 06-05-2008 05:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for goldstem  Send Email to goldstem     
I liked POWERBOAT REPORTS, but when they started slipping deadlines and only ran a couple issues a year, I bailed. I remember around 1973 or so CONSUMER REPORTS did do a report on small outboards (6-10hp). It was because of that issue that I sought out a 7.5 Mercury as my first outboard.
fourdfish posted 06-05-2008 06:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
Powerboats Reports was a low budjet magazine that did not have enough money or resources to do a real good job. It was a little better than reading biased reports on the internet.
They had a small built in bias and sometimes jumped the gun on conclusions. This created some problems and they went under.

Boat US is still really trying to help when it can and I have belonged for over 20 years. They do not pretend to do tests and have helped many boaters thru the years. Class organization.

TransAm posted 06-05-2008 06:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
[Gave explanation about how competition for sales leads to lower prices.]
cindalyn posted 06-06-2008 01:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for cindalyn  Send Email to cindalyn     
TransAm, I'd appreciate the links to web-sites that feature certified techs to which you referred.


TransAm posted 06-06-2008 02:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
[Links given to random test data available on-line about particular motors and boats.]

Here are the forum web addresses.

swist posted 06-06-2008 05:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
Comparative engine data (repair, performance, etc) is great if you could actually use it in a buying decision.

I am 60 and have been outboard boating for a lot of that, and I can say with certainty I never bought an outboard under unconstrained circumstances. It was either what was already on the used boat, or what was available and supported nearby (I am in a rural area), or no choice (Merc on my 170), or a deal I couldn't pass up, or various other reasons for which I wound up with a motor that would not have been my first choice, all else being equal.

But all else is rarely equal.

jimh posted 06-06-2008 06:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Please start a new discussion if you want to change the topic away from the current discussion. The current discussion is in regard to sources of reliable information about

--outboard motor performance
--outboard motor reliability
--outboard motor re-sale value

Ron--If you want to get specific advice about a particular motor, please begin a new discussion about that motor.

cindalyn posted 06-06-2008 10:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for cindalyn  Send Email to cindalyn     
TransAm, thanks for the info. Jim's right, this thread wondered off of subject.
TransAm posted 06-06-2008 10:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
I don't know Ron. Hard to classify the info in my previous post as anything more than a couple performance tests and info to sites containing maintenance reports. I would say it was "spot on" based on premise of your original thread, but I have been challenged with some senseless arguments in this thread. Go figure.
jimh posted 06-07-2008 12:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
While there may be an eyebrow raised in terms of the independence of a magazine's editorial from its advertisers, there is no question in anyone's mind about the preference or bias of someone who is involved in the business of selling outboard motors. It goes without saying that a seller will be biased toward the brand he sells. I have never met a seller of outboard motors who told me that the brand he was selling was less reliable than the competition. Maybe there are sellers like that, but they probably do not stay in business for long.

swist--your experience matches mine. When you buy a boat, new or used, it usually already has a motor on it. It is the rare occasion when someone decides to re-power that they have a chance to pick any motor. Even in re-power situations there is usually a strong pull toward the original brand due to a desire to re-use the rigging, controls, harnesses, gauges, etc. A complete re-power which involves all new rigging along with a new motor is less common.

I have also observed that there is a strong inverse correlation between the people who ask the most questions and the people who eventually buy a new motor.

TransAm posted 06-07-2008 08:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
"The only source of information on reliability that seems to have a chance of being even remotely valid or significant is perhaps the J. D. Power and Associates survey which usually includes questions about reliability. The results of the survey that are made public and available for free do not always break down the data so that you can see every motor and every category. You could buy the data if you are really interested. J. D. Power and Associates do not have all their historical data on their website. It is a good idea to save the data each year as it may not be available after the passage of a year or two and the issuance of a new report."...jimh

If J.D. Power is your cup of tea, so be it. I got no beef with them. You clearly have a bias against Yamaha motors. I would challenge you to go back and delete all similar references to Verado and E-Tec as you have done here with Yamaha. That may take quite some time to do so. So let me simply ask a rhetorical question if I may. Which manufacturer has received J.D. Power and Associated "Highest Customer Satisfaction" award for four stroke outboards, and the Marine Industry CSI award for excellence in customer satisfaction 6 years running? You guessed it, YAMAHA. Mercury has a similar rating on their 2 stroke outboards (3 years running), which is why I stated early on in this thread I would consider Optimax. But since most manufacturers are phasing out 2 stroke, it's not hard to be at the top of the heap. Evinrude touts no such awards, but they are certainly worthy of consideration if you are considering 2 stroke. Since I believe the originator of this thread is interested in 4 stroke, seems as though there is a clear choice to start with.

I eagerly await the attempted discredit of this information or dismissal of it as unreliable.

seahorse posted 06-07-2008 09:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for seahorse  Send Email to seahorse     
Evinrude touts no such awards


Evinrude won the award last year in a tie with Merc. They were only 2 points from Merc this year, while Yamaha was 10 points down.

Evinrude also won in 2002 if I remember correctly.

TransAm posted 06-07-2008 09:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
SeaHorse, I assume you are referring to 2-stroke. Unless Yamaha's website has made a huge blunder, or perhaps I grossly misunderstood the information on their site, the 2008 award went to Yamaha. The 6 year running award referred to the Marine Industry CSI. If I am wrong, my apoligies. Perhaps I should have said Evenrude's website touts not such awards (perhaps if you dig deep, you may find some reference; my cursory review did not note any). I have stated throughout this thread the quality of all brands in recent years; some here can't even bring themselves to type the word Yamaha though.
highanddry posted 06-07-2008 09:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for highanddry  Send Email to highanddry     
Mercury Optimax was the JD Powers award winner.
TransAm posted 06-07-2008 09:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
Yes, for [two-cycle outboard motors], that was stipulated in fact for the last 3 years. We're takling [four-cycle outboard motors].
seabob4 posted 06-07-2008 06:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for seabob4  Send Email to seabob4     
If only it was that easy. One of our test drivers, who is a professional guide in Homosassa/Crystal River, loves his Opti with over 500 hours on it, bought new last year. His partner, our other test driver, swears by Verados. Our Plant Manager and my fellow engineer are HUGE E-TEC fans, both owning them. Myself, I wouldn't trade my 225 Suzuki for nothing! Plus I upgraded to digital gauges, just like a 300 but no electronic shift. Then there are Hondas, which, despite a hard shift in and out of gear, have NEVER heard anything bad about them.

So how do you form an opinion? Listen to your friends, listen to their experiences, do your research as far as rigging, controls, props, etc., then find a good price on the size motor you want. Weigh all the factors, then make your own decision.

All of today's new outboard motors are tremendous motors. We just did our first install and test of the 300 E-TEC. What an awesome difference over the 250, in a package of about the same size. So whose to say whose motor is better? If you are an informed boater and you do your homework, you will be satisfied with your decision, regardless of whose motor you choose.

fourdfish posted 06-07-2008 08:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
TranAm--cindalyn did not stipulate [four-cycle outbard motors] when he started this thread so why should we start now.
Seabob4- Did you actually get a chance to run with that 300-HP E-TEC? Just wondering?
seabob4 posted 06-07-2008 08:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for seabob4  Send Email to seabob4     
Yes, on a ProLine 23 Sport. Center console, I can't give you all the numbers, but time to plane of about 3 seconds, top end around 54 mph. A little tender hull, so, even with tabs, a little dicey on trimming way out. Might have tweaked a little more out of her, but conditions didn't dictate it. Otherwise, just like the etecs you know. But I'll still take a 300 Suzuki! BTW, BRP will be coming out with a DTS configuration soon. Unlike Suzuki or Verado, you can pick your flavor. The motor has bosses machined into it to accept the shift/throttle actuators, and it all fits under the same cowling.
seabob4 posted 06-07-2008 08:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for seabob4  Send Email to seabob4     
I forgot to mention, mid range WOT will absolutely nail your back to the leaning post! Loved it!
TransAm posted 06-07-2008 10:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
If you bothered to read my post regarding JB Power, I clearly called out that Yamaha had come out on top for 2008 as far as four-cycle outboard motor. That was the basis for my response to HighandDry regarding his suggestion that Mercury was JD Power pick for 2008. MY reference was for [four-cycle outboard motors]; his for [two-cycle outboard motors], which I also clearly stipulated to. Since one of Cindalyn's highest priority is gas mileage, it would seem he is most interested in [four-cycle outboard motors]. I think that was a natural assumption, and with exchanges with Ron, I believe it to be correct. That is why! Perhaps Ron could chime in and confirm this.

Seabob4, I agree, all of todays outboards are tremendous machines as I have stated many times in this thread. My advice early on was not to brand shop, but rather do as you suggest. Do all the homework you can, pick a manufacturer close to home, get to know them by name, and make sure they have MASTER techs if you can, not just certified.

seabob4 posted 06-07-2008 10:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for seabob4  Send Email to seabob4     
You are obviously very knowledgeable about powering boats. But may I throw up a caveat? J.D. Power is about how much money you can give them. Ask anybody in the industry. It's kind of like, have you ever read a boat test in Boating that was negative? Kind of makes you wonder...

You are absolutely correct about having EXCELLENT, trained technicians/mechanics to potentially service your motor, especially when putting the laptop on it. BRPs and Suzukis rarely give me [problems]. Single and twin Verados, the same. Hondas don't apply, and we don't do Yamahas, much to my chagrin. Upper management has issues with a former Yamaha employee, don't ask. Dual station, triple Verados? Now that's another story. Keep your fingers crossed when you calibrate, then keep them crossed again the next day.

As you chimed in, it's up to the individual buyer doing his homework, weighing the pros and cons, and ultimately making his and her decision. Thanks for the input.

fourdfish posted 06-07-2008 11:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
TransAm- That crap about gas mileage is just that! We have gone over that many times here. You cannot and will not find any evidence to back that up. This has been hashed over on all the forums and it is just like the reports and tests. You show me one test and I will show you another. Last time we did it 6 tests were brought out to show the contrary. My gas mileage is great and you have your opinion.

Sorry, I am going fishing for a week. Post what you want.

TransAm posted 06-08-2008 06:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
Seabob4, the only reason I bothered introducing JD Power was another poster suggested they were, perhaps the most reliable among available printed materials. Personally, I do as I say here and I have suggested. Gather as much information from as many sources you deem credible, and make your decision fromt here.

Fourdfish, I really don't know what to say. You seem hell bent on proving at least one thing I say as wrong, what gives? The only information regarding gas mileage I introduced was to show the difference between a 90 and 115 tested on similar boats to give the poster of this thread some sense of the difference between the two. Gospel? probably not, but Crap, I don't think so. Even jimh would agree as he stated so above.

"There are many publications which provide performance information (but not head-to-head with other brands), and the manufacturers themselves publish a very great deal of on-water test information about their motors. I believe that as a general rule the manufacturer published data is reliable reporting of boat speed, and in some cases fuel consumption"...jimh

I did also offer that, in general, [four-stoke outboard motors] get better mileage. You disagree?

You have your opinion regarding use of the internet to review an engine as a "big mistake". I, and many other folks happen to disagree. And that is O.K., really. If you wish to keep attacking my opinons and suggestions, well, have at it. It seems unproductive to me though, and has offered nothing to this thread.

jimh posted 06-08-2008 07:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The J. D. Power awards are for overall customer satisfaction, and the data about reliability is just one component of that. It is not meaningful to just cite who had the highest composite score.

As far as I know, J. D. Power is the only source of independent data about new outboard motor reliability that is available that has been collected in a systematic and statistically significant manner.

If you read the thousands of articles I have authored on this website I don't think you can find a single one where I make a recommendation about a particular motor or endorse a particular brand of outboard motor. I always get a laugh when someone declares that I am biased against a particular brand. I have found that such a declaration about my supposed bias is really the best evidence that the person making the accusation has a strong bias toward that brand.

jimh posted 06-08-2008 07:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Re Mercury and J. D. Power award for direct-injection two-cycle motors, their 2006 award was their first, they shared first-place in 2007 (with Evinrude), and finished first alone in 2008.

If you look beyond the hoopla and compare the actual data, the Power survey results are often very close, often just a few points separating first and second. Curiously this correlates well with the anecdotal reports given here by several participants that current outboard motors are all rather good. And it is in quite stark contrast to the notion being put forth that Yamaha motors are six time more reliable than another brand because of the volume of articles that appear on one internet website in repair discussions.

TransAm posted 06-08-2008 11:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
Come on jim, I clearly did not put forth that assertion regarding repair frequency. You too seem to be pulling selective information, which was appropriately qualified, place it out of context, and suggest I asserted it as fact. Quite the contrary, in fact I clearly have stated folks will take from the statistics what they want.

I am glad to learn more about JD Power and how their data is collected. You are clearly more informed here than I. Again, I made a simple statement of fact regarding the 2008 recipient in the 4 stroke category-nothing more. I don't wish to argue JD Power, you introduced them and you can better expalin their organization and reporting. I simply stated Yamaha won the 2008 award for 4 strokes.

As for brand bias, I clearly have one. I think many people do as do the boat manufactures who choose brand for their respective boats. Mine been developed by 10 years of poor performance with one brand, and 22 years of suberb performance with another. One man, one opinion. Again, no assertion of fact.

What seems to have gotten lost in others analysis of my content here is the 5 or so times I concluded todays outboards are all seemingly reliable, and to focus on selecting a brand close to home with qualified tech's. Pretty simple. I think any further debate would be better suited in another thread.

seahorse posted 06-08-2008 11:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for seahorse  Send Email to seahorse     

Seabob4 wrote:
J.D. Power is about how much money you can give them. Ask anybody in the industry.

Is that why Mercury comes in dead last in the 4-stroke category almost every year?

Search this site, or perhaps Jim might remember a post from a J.D. Power director who described how the marine segment is surveyed and tallied.

TransAm posted 06-08-2008 12:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm    
I should also note, that while I have a personal brand preference, I have never suggested that anyone buy or otherwise patronize that brand. Just presented some data; folks are smart enough to make up thier own mind.
jimh posted 06-08-2008 12:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
There is a general pattern of complaint about J. D. Power results being biased or influenced by financial involvement or participation of the winning brand. The source of the complaints is generally from fans of those brands which did not finish first. As soon as a brand finishes first in J. D. Power results, all complaints from fans of than brand stop, and the J. D. Power results are then cited as gospel.

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