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Author Topic:   Evinrude E-Tec 50 HP best in long term test
GSH posted 04-07-2009 04:51 AM ET (US)   Profile for GSH   Send Email to GSH  
As the question of which 50 HP outboard is ‘The Best’ may still be of some interest to some here on CW, I’m posting the following as one more take on putting this question to rest! ;-)

As a long term testing project the Finnish boating magazine ‘Kippari’ has been running different 50 HP outboards on ‘Buster L’ aluminum boat (for more info on the boat, please go to and search for the ‘L’ model, very common and popular boat in Scandinavia). In total, the boat has done 1 563 hours and 10 552 nautical miles.

Kippari has been running six different 50 HP motors on the boat, starting with a Honda BF50 in 2003 and ending with a 4-stroke Mercury F50 ELPT EFI for the 2008 season. Each motor was in use for at least 200 hours, serviced according to recommendations and totally stripped down for a full evaluation at the end of the test. The other outboards were: Evinrude E-Tec 50 (2004), Suzuki DFI50 (2005), Tohatsu 50 TLDI (2006) and Yamaha F50 EFI (2007).

In the latest issue of Kippari, in addition to a report on the tested Mercury, the magazine give their own rating for each of the outboards that had been in use on the boat. The winner: Evinrude E-Tec, with a five star rating. The others: the Suzuki and the Yamaha were given four stars, the rest got three.

What the magazine listed as positive factors for the E-Tec (my own translation):
* ‘Low oil consumption’
* ‘Easy service’
* ‘Starting properties’
* ‘Running properties’
* ‘Carefree use’
* ‘(Practically) Non-existent wear’

The only negative factor was a problem the magazine had with the spark plugs; ‘demanding spark plug installation’ (Wear, indexing and so on, well know problem that should now be fixed).

Now, even if it looks like I’m soon to be the owner of a 2008 E-Tec 50 HP myself, I want to be the first to point out that this is not a report on a flawless, scientifically done and peer-to-peer reviewed test. It’s just what the magazine in question holds as their opinion after a lot of testing, no less, no more.

But on the other hand, very few recreational outboard users or even professionals do run six different 50 HP outboards of six different brands on the same boat for such long times, so I think this is well worth some consideration.


dg22 posted 04-07-2009 09:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for dg22  Send Email to dg22     

If one of the factors is 'easy service' and a 5 star is given to the motor with a negative comment of 'demanding spark plug installation’, I wonder what a 3 star would be 'take it to your marine dealer and don't attempt anything yourself'. Maybe owning a 1972 2-stroke is not that bad after all.

jimh posted 04-09-2009 01:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Thanks for giving us the European view on outboard motors. I appreciate it.

In recent years CONTINUOUSWAVE has allowed our participation from European boaters to drift. I know that there have been honest disagreements over outboard motors, but we also know that there's something more that has crept into our relationship. In American boaters, there has been a failure to appreciate the European boater's leading role in boating. Instead of celebrating your dynamic boating and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where American boaters have shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.

But in Europe, there is an anti-American boating sentiment that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that American boaters so often do in the world, there have been times where European boaters choose to blame American boaters for much of what's bad.

On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated. They fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth that American boaters cannot confront the challenges of outboard motor boating alone, but that Europe cannot confront them without America.

dg22 posted 04-09-2009 09:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for dg22  Send Email to dg22     
Well said Jim.

I think I've worked in the market research industry too long so when I read attributes like 'Carefree use' and 'Running Properties' it sounds like a sponsored study to me. I could be totally wrong. If this is an independent study, regardless of where it was done, it is worth consideration. Those attributes by the way would make for good brand mapping.

15ftlover posted 04-10-2009 11:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for 15ftlover  Send Email to 15ftlover     
One of the funniest things I've read in a long time, so glad people are keeping their sense of humor in these socialist times-thanks
GSH posted 04-10-2009 05:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for GSH  Send Email to GSH     
“Hi, I'm from Europe, and I'm here to help!”

Well, JimH, what can I say? My first guess was that your post must be some kind of short CW/boating version of some Obama speech that I’ve missed...

But really, I sure hope that no-one view me as being insidious, having an anti-American boating sentiment or feels that I blame American boaters for much of what’s bad!

(Also, I hope that at CW I’m not met by arrogance or dismissive/derisive attitudes. But if someone does, perhaps I should not take it personally, if it is only a U.S. vs. EU thing.)

* Sigh *

Oh well.


GSH posted 04-10-2009 05:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for GSH  Send Email to GSH     
dg22, I really believe the oppinions of the magazine in question is not affected by any kind of sponsorship.

The publisher of the magazine is a company called 'Yhtyneet Kuvalehdet', and the editor-in-chief is Mr. Vesa Leppä. If you want, you can e-mail him at vesa.leppa(at) and ask for his comment.


dg22 posted 04-10-2009 06:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for dg22  Send Email to dg22     
Seb, In all seriousness, it does sound like a very interesting project, especially that they used one boat model to test all motors and 200 hours per motor. I personally like hearing what people have to say about their motors first hand or reading from a forum like CW. For example, I did not realize that the new 4 strokes get 3 times the fuel economy at lower speeds than the 2 strokes. Having said that, it is always good to get information from all sources before spending big $'s on a new motor. Thanks for sharing this information.
fourdfish posted 04-10-2009 08:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
Seb--First let say thanks for the info. I believe we have seen some tests last year from this magazine. They try to do tests with a scientific approach. Far more controls than our
rags use in this country.
Second-- I hope that you don't put all of us at CW together when you evaluate the negative attitudes shown here
towards European boaters. I am sorry some here have shown
some real bad manners. Some members here just do not care
and post when they should not! They are in fact arrogant individuals who think they know it all.
newt posted 04-10-2009 09:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for newt  Send Email to newt     
GSH, thanks for posting your summary of the article. Did they elaborate on the ‘demanding spark plug installation’? What exactly was the nuisance?
jimh posted 04-10-2009 10:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
ASIDE to 15ftlover--I am glad at least one person got the joke, which was my paraphrase of a recent speech delivered by our American President to a European audience.
fourdfish posted 04-10-2009 11:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
Unexpected joke!
jimh posted 04-11-2009 09:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
ASIDE: I though it would have been obvious that I did not write the material. For example, I would never construct a sentence like "There have been times where..." I would have written, "There have been times when..."
jimh posted 04-11-2009 09:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Sorry for distracting the discussion from its topic, the results of a long-term engine test by a Finnish boating magazine. My apologies to GSH.

Previously I have undertaken the task of translating an engine test from the Finnish boating magazine, VENE, and published a small portion of the article in

40-HP Outboard Motor Tests

My thanks to Seb for bringing this new article to our attention.

jimh posted 04-11-2009 11:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The magazine article which tested the E-TEC in this comparison is available online at:

It is in Finnish, but I am certain most resident's of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and residents of northern Minnesota will have no trouble reading it.

GSH posted 04-11-2009 02:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for GSH  Send Email to GSH     
JimH, dg22, et al., thanks! And JimH, if you don't mind, I'd like to point out that the article you provided the link for is the original report on long term test of the E-Tec, right after 'Kippari' was finished with the post-testing checking.

I'd also like to point out that Finnish is still a more common language than Klingon, and perhaps just as easy to learn.

When it comes to magazines testing consumer product like outboard motors some may say that it's all for nothing, that they do not care for the methods used or the results reported.
And so they go on to buy brand X, like they would have done no matter what any magazine wrote.
Me, I think we should read the magazines and their test reports. We should discuss the results, even if some will think we're a bunch of boating nerds. We should send questions to the magazines about unclear factors or results we don't understand.

This, I believe, would add to the magazines willingness to do comparative tests, and keep them on their toes for doing it as fairly and as well as they can. And that will be noticed by the manufacturers, and they will know that the market cares, the consumer will not just buy brand X out of old habit, but is really prepared to check which of the optional products is most worth the money. Which will then help us get better products in the future. Please tell me if I'm wrong!


GSH posted 04-11-2009 02:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for GSH  Send Email to GSH     
Newt, regarding the spark plug problem:

Originally, it was expected that the spark plugs would last for three years or 300 hours, which ever came first.
As it turned out, if you run a lot at slow speeds,
spark plugs of the type used in test (which came with the motor) starts to cause troubles at about 100 hours, and needed to be changed.

Then they had some problems getting suitable replacement spark plugs, but that problem was resolved. That's my version of it, based on what I've read.

Perhaps someone else can give more comments on what kind of spark plug problems one may run into with an E-Tec outboard?


I think I've read something interesting on the subject of indexing spark plugs for E-Tec outboards, I'll see if I can dig that up!

AZdave posted 04-11-2009 02:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for AZdave  Send Email to AZdave     
A summary of the testing is available by doing a Google search on "Kippari". The pertinent citation is the first one. This allows a translation of the article, with a few gaps in translation.
crabby posted 04-11-2009 02:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for crabby  Send Email to crabby     
The original post states the motors were used for at least 200 hours prior to inspection/disassembly. Personally I do not feel that 200 hours is anywhere near a long term test. I would not expect to see much internal wear on any modern motor after a mere 200 hours. Now if they were used for 2000 hours that would be a good long term test!
andygere posted 04-14-2009 11:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Regarding the spark plugs and easy service: The E-TEC needs plugs so infrequently (at the end of the 200 hour test, they would still have a third of their life remaining) it was probably easy for the authors to take a minimum deduction for plug indexing.

Regarding the length of the test as "long term", it depends on the context. As magazine tests go, it's very long term. Certainly long enough for any major operational flaw to show up. Is it long enough to evaluate overall expected service life? Probably not, but it still seems like a pretty good test. The major flaw that I see, is that they tested a different motor each year. At the end of the test cycle, if you decided to buy a motor from the first test based on the articles, you'd be looking for a motor that was 4 or 5 years old. A better method would be to equip identical boats with currently produced motors, and test them for one year. Overall, nice post and good information.

Buckda posted 04-14-2009 12:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
If you do a lot of trolling, you may need to re-gap your E-TEC plug ahead of the 300 hour service interval. You also need to index your plugs.

One of my favorite things about my old Mercury 150 Black Max was Mercury's use of a "gapless" plug. Wish BRP would go to that method with the E-TEC.

Despite the rumors that E-TEC plugs are $11/per, it turns out they are more like $7/per plug. Still expensive for a spark plug (in my opinion) but not really that big of a deal, given that it is an every-other-year expenditure.

It is possible that the 50 HP E-TEC motor that was tested by this magazine is "harder" on plugs than the 90 HP motors that I own, as they are a different block and design.

Regarding longevity - my 90's both have more than 415 hours on them (421 on one, 418 on the other) and I have replaced the plugs once. I have, however, re-gapped the plugs several times to optimize the experience when at idle (according to the EMM, the engines are at idle approximately 50% of the time I am boating).

GSH - Thanks for the report. I'm willing to guess that for most recreational boaters in Finland, the season is short enough to say that 200 hours represents approximately 4 years of use for an average user. That seems to be a reasonable "long-term" test period - about the length of a warranty as well.

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