Purchasing Vessels With Outboard Motors

Here’s my quick and good advice about buying boats with outboards. I have basically said
this to so many people on the phone throughout the years who are calling to arrange a survey
date for a vessel that they are purchasing, that I thought it would be worthwhile to put this
opinion on our web page.

Put the horse in front of the cart. The buggy will always ride better. Have the outboard
motor inspected first before hiring a surveyor. If the motor is in the mud, you may want to mount
a different horse. Knowing the condition of the motor before hiring a surveyor, could save you
the survey fee.

We don’t do compression tests. Hire a mechanic, preferably one certified on the engine
you are looking at.

If the warranty isn’t transferable, or it’s an older motor without a compression test, you
are playing Russian roulette. The cylinder with the low compression will put a bullet in your

Outboard motors can appear to perform well with one cylinder below specs, and when
that one goes, you are going to be buying a power head and they aren’t cheap.

Modern outboard engines are computer controlled and if you don’t have a laptop with the
software to read the codes, good or bad, you are holding the gun to your head and spinning the

You need to know the individual cylinder pressures and you need to know the codes.
If you don’t follow this good advise, Forrest Gump is your brother and as your mama told
you, stupid is as stupid does!

Neil K. Haynes
August 31, 2011

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