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Author Topic:   Reliability and Endurance of 2006 Mercury OptiMax 135-HP Engine
Dr Jekyl posted 02-20-2011 05:59 PM ET (US)   Profile for Dr Jekyl   Send Email to Dr Jekyl  
Dear fellow whaler owners--I am the second owner of a 190 OUTRAGE 2006 with [a 2006 OptiMax] 135, purchaed from an estate with nearly zero hours after it sat for a year on its trailer. I had to clean out the old gas and spark plugs and fuel filter and etc. because it wouldn't run. After that tune up and ever since it has run like a top with 500-hours on it now. Only a few episodes of over heat alarm with immediate response on my part, likely due to kelp or something fouling the intake--otherwise no problems. I use it to fish offshore San Diego and it does quite well with a pretty heavily loaded boat: 30-nautical miles per gour at 5,100-RPM WOT.

Decision: pay $1500 for an extended warranty from Mercury for two additional years, or let her go out of warranty and save the cash because she seems to have proven reliable to 500-hours.

How many hours do people typically get out of these motors before a major failure? Any advice greatly appreciated.


martyn1075 posted 02-21-2011 02:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
The 2006 and newer Optimax motors are so far showing great signs of being a good performer. They made a few changes but mainly just updating a motor that proved for years to have some nasty bugs. I would think you could get at least 1,500-hours of good use. Of course you may get more or you may get less; [to determine which case will occur for this motor] is hard to say exactly. But [you can either get less than 1,500-hours, 1,500-hours, or more than 1,5000-houir] is what I have heard to be realistic. To have extra warranty never hurts. [The basis of making the decision to purchase additional warranty coverage] just comes down to money.

Some parts are very expensive and labour on top can easily run the cost of the warranty price. I had a faulty tilt motor. The whole [repair] ran $1,200. [The repair] was under warranty so I live another day. I also had the option as well to extend the warranty. If I had the money I wouldn't hesitate, but [the cost] was too much as I run twins and a kicker. Also my renewal seemed to be quite a bit more than what you have been offered, which seems strange. I probably would have paid [for a warranty extension] if [that price] were offered to me.

boatdryver posted 02-21-2011 11:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for boatdryver  Send Email to boatdryver     
You should do a search on CW for information on Optimax. You'll find a massive amount of information on others' experience, both good and bad.

One contributor, Sosmerc is a professional Mercury tech. One owner has 3500 hours on a 6 cylinder Optimax--just two examples. You will get a lot more responses to a question about Optimax motors under the performance heading, in my opinion. Just my 2 cents worth


kglinz posted 02-21-2011 11:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for kglinz  Send Email to kglinz     
I wouldn't want to guess how long your motor might last, but one thing I know for sure is that "Extended Warranties" are an insurance policy that is designed to put money in someone's pocket and that someone ain't you.
jimh posted 02-21-2011 04:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The average use of an outboard motor per year is less than 100-hours of running time, based on most accounts given here. Motors which are reported as having extremely high running time, such as 3,500-hours, are often motors which are used abnormally. These high-hour motors are either in use by very active retirees who like to fish 60-miles away from where they keep their boat, or by commercial users who run the engines eight hours a day, seven days a week.

The durability of a motor depends greatly on the environment in which it is used and the routine maintenance it receives. Tropical saltwater use without aggressive routine maintenance can kill an outboard motor in a few years. Seasonal freshwater use with good maintenance can make the same motor last for decades.

Extended warranty is an insurance policy. If you wish to reduce your risk of exposure to high repair or replacement costs, an extended warranty or service contract insurance policy may be a good approach. Whether or not it makes financial sense for your situation depends mainly on your finances and your comfort with assuming risk.

When entering into a warranty extension there are many important details to be aware of and consider. Often these policies have exclusions or escapes which shift costs of repairs back to you, just when you thought you'd be covered.

Reports about the Mercury OptiMax motor are all anecdotal and there is no collection here--or anywhere else, for that matter--in which a broad sample of data has been collected and analyzed for trends or risk. In general you can characterize the anecdotal reports in two distinct categories: love it or hate it.

For people who have not had problems the reliability and endurance will be characterized as good. For people who have had problems there will be more chance to get a bad characterization.

There was a point in the history of the Mercury OptiMax where the brand was severely tarnished by very high profile failures and problems, and Mercury went to work with a great deal of money in warranty repairs and extended coverage to rehabilitate the OptiMax brand to respectability. For those with longer memories some of the tarnish of the earlier problems still influences their opinion of the OptiMax.

Generally if a motor has run reliably for 500-hours you can be reasonably sure that there is not a latent defect in the manufacture of the motor which is going to cause it to self-destruct in the next hour of running. This is all the warranty covers--defects in original manufacture. A warranty does not cover things that wear out and need routine replacement.

tom976 posted 02-21-2011 06:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for tom976  Send Email to tom976     
While the monitary factor is one thing, I take a slightly different view of things. As an example I do all the engine work on my boat myself. So naturally an extended warranty really wouldnt pay. Same applied to the cars i own etc. Good maintenance is key (as everyone has said here many of times) and knowing how to do those jobs yourself can save you a small fortune in maintenance costs. Plus its nice to know what goes into your own motor. Getting involved with your motor is a life long relationship. (well for the life of the motor at least, LOL) If she fails under way its nice to have at least a clue for things to look to possibly get her going again.


elenakagan posted 02-21-2011 07:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for elenakagan  Send Email to elenakagan     
Flip a coin. Heads Go for it, Tails take a shot.
Dr Jekyl posted 02-22-2011 10:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dr Jekyl  Send Email to Dr Jekyl     
Thank you for the thought provoking response. The extended factory warranty appears to have value to me worth is price tag with no clearly unexpected exclusions and the benefit of transferability which adds value at sale (not planning on selling).

I decided to purchase it. I do wonder if I am at risk if I perform simple maintenance like changing the lower unit oil or spark plugs myself (as I have done). If a failure occurs might they try to fault a gap in service at the dealer.

So far my experience with them covering warranty claims is good though. The trim/tilt unit went out two years back and they replaced it without question. Would have been a pretty hefty bill I think.
Also had a frustrating problem with salt buildup on the back of the engine encrusting he electrical components and minimally covering the fuel rails back there. Spent awhile in and out of the shop trying to figure that out for fear of corrosion leading to the untimely death of my engine. They replaced the top and bottom cowling under warranty without change to the salt problem. After much time spent on dyno etc... testing the shop out here decided it was an intermittent leak when under pressure from the PTOT hosing at a junction point on the back of the engine. Modified the connection and disabled PTOT with paddle wheel replacement for input to the engine computer and seems to have cleared up the issue. Hopefully the exposure prior to repair will not shorten the life too much due to corrosion as that IS NOT covered under warranty.

martyn1075 posted 02-22-2011 01:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
Smart move, interesting your tilt trim went as well. I mentioned earlier both tilt engines failed me and yes its a costly repair $1200 each.

Dr Jekyl... do you leave your boat in the water all year? Is your engine completely out of the water or partially in? I realize the damage has been done and cannot be reversed however I find it interesting that we both have the same engine and both our tilt motors were gone with such little hours on the motor. I used mine a total of 12-14 times in two years all spring summer hours with no more than 75 hours of overall use and the seals in the motor were completely rotted out. The salt water inevitably seeped into the hydraulic lines and pump corroding both the lines and tilt motor.

Dr Jekyl posted 02-22-2011 02:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dr Jekyl  Send Email to Dr Jekyl     
Martyn--I keep it on a trailer and am very fastidious with salt removal etc at the end of the day ...Typical day is 12 hrs running and trolling 30-50 miles offshore.
Even use salt away and such products to remove salt from the cooling system as well as the exposed metallic components. Not sure if I have bought into good salesmanship on those products and am spending more than necessary to keep the corrosion away but will continue.
L H G posted 02-24-2011 04:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
The fact that you go 30 to 50 miles offshore on a regular basis with a single 135 Optimax says alot about it's reliability, and what you think of it's reliability.

I, myself, with ANY engine, would not do that without a kicker, or a twin installation.

Dr Jekyl posted 02-26-2011 02:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dr Jekyl  Send Email to Dr Jekyl     
I suppose so. It does not seem that unusual to me. The fishing does not get good here till 30 miles out. A very solid VHF/large antenna, Vessel assist, epirb and a fleet of other boats around fishing the same waters makes a second engine seem like less of a necessity. Would be a long wait to get towed in.

Would be more important if the motor quit near shore or at the Islands though, to keep her off the rocks. Solid anchor with lots of chain and long rope hopefully will suffice in that situation till help arrives.

ivansfo posted 03-02-2011 02:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for ivansfo  Send Email to ivansfo     
If it was me, I would skip the extended warranty and self-insure it myself with the $1500 saved. Like others have said any defect is typically shaken out after 500 hours.

My opinion is based owning a pair of 2001 135 Optimax since they were new. My motors came with the standard 3 year warranty + 2 year promotional extended warranty. The first few years I went through a couple of repairs under warranty. Poppet valve, tilt trim assembly, and various recalls. The 5 year warranty has long expired and I haven't had a need yet for any "repairs". I don't use my boat as much as you. Besides general maintenace stuff which I do myself, out of pocket costs for repairs have been $0 thus far. My boat doesn't get used as much as you. I have 400 hours on the motors.

Fingers crossed I didn't jinx myself with ths post :-)

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