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Author Topic:   Service Life of Modern Outboard Engines
boatdryver posted 06-19-2015 09:34 AM ET (US)   Profile for boatdryver   Send Email to boatdryver  
From time to time on this forum a boater considering purchase of a used boat and outboard engine will ask how much longer the engine might last before re-power is necessary.

Well, here is one interesting anecdotal bit of information; Craigslist ad (not mine) for a Classic Outrage 21 powered by a Yamaha F150 appeared this morning. I think it is unlikely that the statement that the motor has 4,500 hours of service is overstated by a seller, although I suppose there could be a typographical error. We've seen previous anecdotes of very high engine hours accumulated by commercial operators.



contender posted 06-19-2015 10:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Outboard engines last [according to] how well you take care of them. Are they used in fresh water or saltwater. Are they run hard or idle most of the time. Granted you can always get an engine that was the last one made the Friday before vacation, or get one with a catastropic engine part failure. I have seen engines come lose with under 50-hours and some with over 4,000-hours. The only real advice I can give you about an outboard: if you purchase new (or you know the engine), you will know what you are getting. Some people here do not care about the hours on an outboard, while some do. I currently have a 1990 Yamaha 250 and a 1985 Evinrude 140 looper, and both engines I purchase brand new. The Evinrude smokes a little--it is an old 2 stroke and I run a little more oil in it--but I have over 2,500 hours on it and it is in better shape than other engines I have seen at the ramps, Same with my Yamaha. Good luck to you. Depending on what you want to use the boat for I would run the engine until it fails, Selling a 2006 engine you are not going to get much in trade or selling it. I am headed down to the Keys to look at an older model Boston Whaler with a 2006 Evinrude 175 with a trailer, and the asking price is only $5 500 for the rig. Again take care.
jimh posted 06-19-2015 01:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Modern engines seem to run cleaner and perhaps as a result it is not much of an achievement to get a long service life from them. There was a time when a car with 100,000-miles was considered at end-of-life, but modern car engines now run past 100,000-miles with minimal repair and maintenance. Will modern outboard engines match that? Probably not as easily, as they are in a more strenuous service.

When I remarked some time ago about a pair of engines with a total of 3400 hours (combined) in three years, the reactions were very curious. There arose a host of critics who declared that taking note of a pair of engines each running flawlessly for 1,700-hours in three years of service was pointless, that any modern engine could do this, and to attempt to draw attention to such an event was without merit.

Later, a thread discussing engines with 6,800-hour drew comments that there was not much significant about that figure.

At this moment, I don't know where the bar ought to be set for a modern engine to run a certain number of hours without major repairs and with just routine changes and other routine service.

What I have learned is that the opinions of people about engine service hours completed without significant repair or unusual service depend greatly on which brand they carry a bias toward.

The fundamental problem in assessing modern engine life span is none of the modern engines have been around very long. The oldest is probably the Yamaha original 225-HP four-cycle. When introduced more than 13-years ago it looked like it could run forever, but now, after 13-years in service for some of those engines, there are significant problems showing up, mainly in their cooling systems. You cannot make a prediction about time to failure by running 100 engines for 100-hours and declaring 10,000-hours without failure. To use an old analogy, you can't make a baby by getting nine women pregnant for one month.

n1ywb posted 06-19-2015 01:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for n1ywb  Send Email to n1ywb     
Part of why we always hear about these old engines with a zillion hours is selection bias. All the ones that have failed are long gone and the only ones left are the ones that lasted. You see the same thing with cars. My 1990 Jeep Cherokee has 212k miles and is going strong. Not many 1990 Cherokees left on the road though; plenty in the junk yard of course.
msirof2001 posted 06-19-2015 02:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for msirof2001  Send Email to msirof2001     
On my 1995 Outrage 21, I had a Yamaha 200 TXRT 2-stroke, 6 cyl, for almost 20 years. It would be an understatement to say I had 3000-hours. I kept it serviced, maintained, only used Yamalube, etc. Almost no problems.

This guy's number of hours are plausable. He stated commercial Salmon fishing. True that a work-year for an employee is appriximately 2000-hours-per-year. A commercial fisherman has seasons, and the engine may not be running all day. But for those many years, 4,500-hours doesn't surprise me at all. If it was maintained well--the big question mark--it should still work well.

jimh posted 06-20-2015 08:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Outboard engines do not last according to "how you take care of them." They last as long as their components last and as long as the durability built into them. Proper service and maintenance will help extend their service life but no amount of care will keep an engine from wearing out if its components are not well made. If the electric cranking motor fails after a year, it is not because the owner did not take good care. If the fuel system module fails after a year, it is not because the owner did not take good care. Good owner care, proper maintenance, performance of required service can contribue to longer engine life, but they do not determine engine life. The quality of manufacturing is extremely influential, as is the nature of the service in which the engine is used.
contender posted 06-20-2015 11:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Jim I have to disagree with you on taking care of your outboard. If you use your boat in salt water (as I) I flush the engine each time its used and I spray down the engine before I go out, The result is that I can eat off my engine, there is no rust anywhere, I also can change my lower unit without a bolt breaking off when I want to change the water pump. When I have to remove the screws to rebuilt the carbs or replace a the seal on the trim the bolts unscrew with ease and the screws do not strip. Now I can agree that parts wear out and have to be replace, just like on any gas engine. But to use and abuse your outboard engine and saying that taking care of it does not matter your engine will not last and long as mine...
jimh posted 06-21-2015 06:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
You can't stop badly designed or poorly made parts from failing by taking really good care of your outboard engine. The parts are going to fail, sooner or later, even if you flush and wash and polish and wax your outboard engine like a man obsessed.
Russ 13 posted 07-09-2015 10:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Russ 13  Send Email to Russ 13     
I would suggest that both (Quality of build) and (Service and care) equally determine the lifespan of an outboard engine.
As the best quality build will fail earlier without care.
And the poorly built will fail earlier with the best care.
The best advice is purchase the best built outboard (do your homework on different brand problems) and then take the time to do the proper maintenance and take care of your engine 's.
The payoff is uninterrupted use and enjoyment while boating.
martyn1075 posted 07-10-2015 03:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
Interesting topic because is it based on hours or is it determined over several years? At this moment I have a rather old engine in regards to technology but it is in really good shape overall it's just a baby with 380 hours on it in total but it's a 1999 which is the original motor on the boat from the dealer. Now that the parts are getting up there in age would I be due for failure or is it going to last long time longer based on low usage over several years. Like Contender mentioned maintence ee has been maticulous.di

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