Pay the man now or pay the man later! I once had a wise angler tell me this. What does it mean exactly? Well, it was in reference to boats and equipment. His point was that if you don’t pay for the proper maintenance now, eventually it’s going to fail, and you’ll pay to have it repaired. This holds true with everything from your boat to the reels you use. Proper and regular maintenance will not only save you money in the long run; it will prevent frustrating failures that are costly and will ruin a tournament or weekend outing.
Our outboards are sensitive and expensive pieces of machinery. Manufacturers have put out specifications that are required of us as owners to ensure we get the most out of them. Not following those specifications can lead to premature failure. Using the wrong oils, using the wrong prop allowing for higher RPM’s than recommended, not using fuel additives and recommended fuel system cleaners; all can lead to premature failure of an outboard motor.
I drive a Mercury Pro XS with a Mercury Fury prop. I’ve actually had 4 of these motors. All four have performed flawlessly for me. I use the recommended Mercury oil along with Mercury fuel cleaner and stabilizer. For the last four years, my motors have been turn-key. No matter if it’s 5 or 105 degrees, when I turn the key the motor fires right off. I can give countless stories of anglers that simply put gas in their boats and go, but it doesn’t take long for this to catch up to them and they are in the shop with costly power head repairs or replacements.
Performing your hourly maintenance is just as vital. Like a vehicle with mileage, an outboard uses hours to set parameters for various inspections and component changes. Yes, these hourly inspections cost money; the mechanic performing the inspections needs to get paid. However, this is a small price compared to the replacement of a power head or major component. Hourly inspections check for unusual wear, loose components and over all function of the motor. These inspections are extremely beneficial in catching a problem before for it becomes serious or expensive.
We spend thousands of dollars on high-tech motors for our boats and expect them to perform as advertised. To achieve this performance, you have to take the time to read the manual and comply with all the recommendations of the manufacturer.
Operating an outboard motor is expensive. First gas ranges between three and four dollars a gallon. Recommended oils will cost between twenty and thirty five dollars a gallon. Fuel treatments, so that our motors can run the ethanol based fuels, are also expensive. However, these routine expenses are minimal compared to the catastrophic failure of the motor. An engine power head replacement or repair can cost thousands of dollars. Making the routine products necessary to operate an outboard seem a little less expensive.
Prior to using Mercury Outboards, I had a Johnson. The warranty was outdated; there was no concern to use the recommended oils and fuel treatments. Since I couldn’t void a warranty that wasn’t available anymore, I started using cheaper products to reduce the cost associated with my bass fishing. It only took three months before my Johnson motor started having problems; it became hard to start, and maximum RPM’s had dropped. A couple more months and a bearing seize, and the engine required a new power head. In a matter of six months, I went from a perfectly operating motor to one that was destroyed. The only difference, I no longer used OEM products. If you were to add it up, I saved about 150 dollars over the six month period; however, I ended up spending six thousand dollars to have my motor repaired. Hence, pay the man now or pay the man later.
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