Boating Tips


Posted 6/19/2009

When spending money on a new outboard, it's nice to have some assurance that the outboard is going to work as the manufacturer intended. That's why manufacturers include a limited warranty with each new outboard they sell. When purchasing an outboard, it's important to consider not only the manufacturer's reputation for quality products, but quality service, both before and after the sale; it's about their proven willingness to take care of you…the customer.

You're Part of the Solution
Nearly all outboard manufacturers' limited warranties cover defects in materials and workmanship for a specified period of time. They do not cover general maintenance, which is the responsibility of the owner. Suffice to say, warranties provide peace of mind that, if maintained and operated within the scope of the warranty's provisions and requirements, the manufacturer stands behind the materials and workmanship used in the construction of the outboard for a specified period of time.

Case in point: Yamaha's outboard limited warranty, when used on pleasure boats, covers defects in materials and workmanship for two or three years from the date of purchase (depending on the type of outboard you buy), subject to a handful of exclusions for peripheral items extraneous to the motor such as instruments, fuel tanks and hoses, propellers, and remote control boxes, which are covered under a separate limited warranty.

It's important to note, though, that most outboard manufacturers have exclusions to their limited warranties, such as:

• Racing or using the outboard in competition
• Damage resulting from accidents, collisions, 
contact with foreign objects or submersion
• Lack of proper maintenance
• Improper off-season storage
• Use of oils or lubricants that don't meet the 
outboard manufacturer's specifications
• Modifying the outboard's original parts
• Boat haul-out/transportation costs

Most, if not all, of these exclusions are just plain common sense.

Extended Warranties
Factory warranties are great and help protect your outboard for a reasonable amount of time, but for slightly more money, you can buy an Extended Service Contract (or Extended Limited Warranty if you live in Florida) to keep your engine protected for years longer.

An extended warranty is like a mechanical insurance policy for your outboard; you're betting that a covered part of the outboard might break during this time. The extended warranty provider is betting that one won't. If you're right, it can save you thousands of dollars on a covered repair. For many, this is a fair and equitable trade-off against what they stand to lose by purchasing one and then not using it.

Buyer beware, however! Not all extended warranties offer the same levels of protection. Many involve a deductable for repair work, pro-rated coverage as your outboard ages, or authorize only certain of their dealerships to do the work. As with any business transaction, go into the deal with your eyes open and don't spend a dime if the terms don't make sense. Take time…compare. You may also want to verify that the extended warranty is administered through the outboard's manufacturer -- not a third-party provider.

The Owner's Responsibilities
Outboard warranties are a two-way street: the manufacturer stands behind their product's materials and workmanship, however you have to hold up your end of the deal to make the most of the warranty the factory is offering.

1. Register your new outboard with the factory to get the warranty coverage started. The dealer who sold the outboard to you should have done this already, but if you're not sure, fill out the warranty card that came with your outboard (the warranty card is often in the owner's/operator's manual) and send it in to the outboard manufacturer immediately. The warranty start date is the day you purchased the outboard.

2. Maintain your outboard. Take it in for service at the intervals spelled out in the owner's/operator's manual or do the work yourself. Either way, keep records of the materials used and what was done. Blatant lack of scheduled service could affect your warranty, and it will definitely shorten the life of your new motor.

3. Use only the best oils, lubricants, additives, and cleaners that you can buy. The factory-branded products are specifically tested for their respective engines, and if it's good enough for the folks who make the engine, it's good enough for us.

4. Take good care of your outboard. You're the one who bought it; if you mistreat the outboard, the money will come out of your pocket, not the manufacturer's. Do simple things like let it warm up properly before putting the hammer down, and flush the engine after every use.

5. Have a way to get your boat and outboard to the dealership; most outboard-powered boats come with a trailer. If yours didn't, arrange in advance to use someone else's trailer, should the need ever arise.

Warranty Wrap-up
We've only skimmed the surface of outboard warranties; this topic could go on for several pages (in very tiny print), due to the legalities and variations of the subject.

Check the owner's/operator's manual and other paperwork that you received with your outboard to learn the details of your warranty coverage. If you have questions, call the manufacturer for clarification and request, in writing, any information relating to the warranty. You may also find a copy of different manufacturers' warranties on their respective websites.