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How to choose the right Outboard Motor.

Insider : Amerloc

Choosing the right Outboard Engine

Outboard Boat Motor DiagramWell this has become a popular question as Boats & Engines evolve.  For many many kinds of boats the outboard motor is the only choice and comes with alot of questions. Which is better? The 2 Stroke or the 4 Stroke? If you listen to most people then your answer will definitely be the Four Stroke but the the more you investigate the harder it is to know which is best and mainly which will best suit your boating needs. 

Technical Distinction:

Four-Stokes, like your car, burn fuel within the cyclinders, ciculating lubricanting oil throught the system. Oil and gas do not mix unless there is a break down. 

Two-Strokes, burn a blend of gas and oil. Traditional two-strokes are fed their gas-oil mixed fuel by carburetors or injectors into the cyclinder with precision timing while the piston covers the exhaust valve. There's no loss of fuel. (In four-stroke engines, thanks to their four piston strokes per cycle, intake and exhaust take place at separate times.) DFI two-strokes and four-strokes both deliver much better fuel economy than traditional two-strokes, since they're directed by computer and burn virtually all of the fuel.

On the other side, four-stroke motors are also erasing what was a clear division just two years ago, the one that said two-strokes are inherently more powerful. The industry once envisioned a 100 hp limit for four-strokes because of their extra weight. But the limit has vanished. Witness Suzuki's new 300 hp, at just 604 pounds.

2 versus 4 now is the boater preferences instead of practical distinctions. 

Difference, What Difference?

  • Two-stroke Direct Fuel injections are lighter than four-strokes with the same power, but the difference small.
  • Four-strokes don't make as much noise as two-strokes though it is becoming less apparent.
  • Two-strokes have been known to produce a stronger hole shot, but the not always true today

Outboards are maintenance free?

There is little you need to do to maintain a modern outboard — but what is still needed is vitally important. You can blow up an engine by neglecting its cooling needs, clog it up by ignoring potential fuel problems, bust it up by letting the lower unit sit over winter with leaky seals. Depleted zincs can invite corrosion. Dinged props can shake the stuffing out of bearings and other moving parts. Owner manuals have slim maintenance sections. That doesn't mean they're unimportant. Best rule of thumb is to service your motor and do regular check ups.

Maintenance Facts and Mantras:

  • Keep the fuel tank topped to reduce the chances of condensation building up when the motor isn't in use.
  • Add fuel stabilizer every time you add fuel — it's important now with ethanol fuels.
  • Inspect the prop at every opportunity. A ding might cause chatter at cruising speeds, but a tiny one could go unnoticed — and still do damage.
  • Look over the fittings and hoses; cool water needs to run through the motor to keep it from burning up.

Pros and Cons

Two-Strokes:

Pros

  1. Lighter
  2. Compact
  3. Fast
  4. Cheap to Repair

Cons

  1. Loud
  2. Not fuel efficient
  3. Un burnt oil
  4. Don't generally meet EPA standards

Four-Strokes:

Pros

  1. Quiet
  2. Don't add oil to fuel
  3. Fuel efficient
  4. Meets EPA Standards

Cons

  1. Heavier
  2. Costly repairs
  3. Ezxpensive
  4. Less power compared to two-stoke models

How Much Horsepower Do I Need for My Boat?

If you buy a 17-foot boat for you and a friend to fish with or ski out of, a 70-horsepower motor might be enough. But that same boat loaded with a family, food, skis and will be used to pull a tube all day, will probably need a 90-horsepower or above. To save money upfront, and potentially at the gas pump too, go with the minimum horsepower engine required to get the job done correctly. Another great example is pontoon boats that are often sold with 50hp. This has been an ever popular strategy to get buyer interested but they soon find that adding the right motor for their needs can often double the original price of the purchase.

Larger motors can be more expensive and typically burn more fuel.

When deciding what size motor to put on your boat, there are three things to keep in mind:

  1. Choose a motor that is in compliance with the rated-safety range of the boat.
  2. Define and prioritize the main uses of the boat.
  3. Look for the largest motor you can afford that will meet the required criteria.

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