If you’re choosing an outboard engine, these 5 tips should come in handy – especially since this is a decision you need to get right, the first time. Outboards are expensive, and you can’t exactly come back to the dealer in six months and ask for an exchange. So make sure your call is the right one, by bearing these facts in mind:
1. Maximum power is almost always a good move. Even if you don’t need those extra 50 horses, having max power on a boat makes it easier to re-sell down the road. If you want to save fuel, just cruise at a slower speed – generally speaking, a larger outboard will turn fewer RPM than a smaller motor at the same MPH, and as a result, the fuel savings of going with a smaller powerplant are meager or non-existent.
2. Watch the weight, when swapping a two-stroke for a four-stroke.With the exception of Yamaha’s SHO series, most four-strokes weigh significantly more than a two-stroke of the same horsepower. As a result, when repowering a boat designed for two-stroke power, it’s possible to throw weight-distribution out of kilter.
3. Two-stroke Vs. Four-stroke: in nearly all cases (again, those SHO’s are an exception), a modern
two stroke will be louder and smokier than a four-stroke. But, it’ll also accelerate faster and weigh less. Most four-strokes, on the other hand, are whisper-quiet and smoke-free. Despite all the marketing claims you’ll see, fuel economy is usually about the same.
4. Look local. Even if it means spending a few hundred dollars more, buying from a dealer that’s close to home will pay off down the road. Maintenance is easier to get done, and assuming you can build a relationship with your local dealer, you’ll get taken care of when you need repairs, parts, or information.
5. When buying used, ask to see the maintenance records. If the owner didn’t keep them, there’s a good chance he didn’t get the maintenance done in a timely fashion – if he had it done at all. Most conscientious boaters will keep those records, so if they don’t exist, you should be suspicious.