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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Engines > Outboard
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Old 05-28-2012
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Brand new Honda 5HP Outboard won't start - should I switch mfg?

We bought a 1972 MacGreggor Venture 21 last fall, that came with a very old Gamefisher 7.5HP outboard. This spring I purchased a brand new Honda 5HP (from an authorized Honda outboard dealer).

One week ago, we got the boat in the water for the first time, but the outboard wouldn't start - despite using just-purchased gas and following the mfg instructions to the letter. The dealer immediately blamed the fuel, and upon returning the motor to them, they put it in their tank and quickly got it running on THEIR gas. I then took the motor back to the boat, and bought two gallons of fresh gas at our marina. My wife and I then took the boat out, putting about an hour of time on the motor (being careful not to over-rev the engine, again per the mfg instructions). The motor ran flawlessly.

Saturday, we were back at the boat, and AGAIN, the motor wouldn't start (and I tried EVERYTHING, including purchasing 3 gallons of premium gas from BP, and draining the carborator at least 5 times). I called the dealer, and they offered to either refund my money or give me a new motor (they strike me as VERY reputable people, and have been nothing but friendly). I opted for the new motor and immediately took my motor back. As I expected, they quickly got my motor running - but I still wanted a new one, and so they got another motor out and set it up. Only THIS time, they dealer couldn't get the new motor started. He tried everything. We're talking Honda products here - BRAND NEW outboards - it's unbelievable.

Now I'm thinking of just getting my money back and buying another brand, and would appreciate any and all thoughts on this.

Thanks, and I hope everyone's out sailing this fine memorial day!!
Marc
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Old 05-28-2012
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Brand new Honda 5HP Outboard won't start - should I switch mfg?

I have a British Seagull I will sell you. Light and reliable.
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Old 05-28-2012
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Re: Brand new Honda 5HP Outboard won't start - should I switch mfg?

Can't recommend a Yamaha 4 hp. Bought a new one a couple of years ago and it was pretty inconsistent about starting. I sold it and went back to a used two stroke Yamaha, starts every time. I think it's the four strokes, not the manufacturer.
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Old 05-28-2012
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Re: Brand new Honda 5HP Outboard won't start - should I switch mfg?

Marc: I'm sitting home today - Memorial Day - instead of sailing at the lake as planned, because our Honda 5HP outboard wouldn't start ... again. These engines apparently have very, very, small carburetor jets, which help them get extremely good fuel efficiency. If you use the motor every day, they are great motors. But, those really small carb jets are highly prone to fouling when fuel is left in them for a few weeks. Once that happens, you are in for a carb cleaning and a carb kit. My dealer here in Arizona, like yours, is really quick to blame the fuel as being "bad". I use stabilizer, but even so, the fuel is suspect after 30-days or so. The great fuel economy is more than offset by the frustration and repair costs associated with weekend use and fuel issues.

My personal experience with this engine has been terrible. I've lost too many sailing days to fuel / carb issues, only to have to haul it in to the dealer for a carb cleaning and rebuild. I was looking into learning to do this myself; but, in thinking about this, having to clean the carb that frequently is unacceptable. Instead, I will be looking for a good, reliable, 2-stroke, outboard - they use more fuel than the Honda, and can be a bit noisier; but, I'm okay with that trade-off because they start more reliably - they have large carb jets to allow the oil in the fuel to pass easily.

If I were buying a new motor now, I would consider one of the propane fueled motors (Kehr?) - it's a gas and leaves no residue (note: separate issues with propane safety on a boat; but, that is easily managed. Electric motors (Torqueedo) may be another option; but, batteries are a pain, too. Or, a good 2-stroke outboard.

I cannot recommend the Honda 5-hp for occasional use weekend sailors like me - they are too prone to fuel problems. I wish that I did not know my Honda dealer on a first name basis. Good luck.
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Old 05-28-2012
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Re: Brand new Honda 5HP Outboard won't start - should I switch mfg?

I have had numerous Honda small engines and in every case they have been extremely reliable. My latest Honda motor is on a lawn mower and it has slight problems starting due to what I think is poor choke adjustment. It will always start though but require 4 or 5 pulls instead of the one or two pulls I am used to.
I did have an issue starting my lawn mower this spring but that was because of old gas - draining the old gas and refilling with fresh gas solved the issue.
Note: If you purchased the gas for your engine from a marine dealer you might unknowingly have purchased old gas. You might want to try a high volume automotive gas station for your fuel.

I would never go back to a 2 cycle engine!
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Old 05-29-2012
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Re: Brand new Honda 5HP Outboard won't start - should I switch mfg?

jd- the Honda engines on lawnmowers, pressure washers, etc are completely different animals than the outboard engines. In general there is a lot of frustration with the new small four stroke outboards (starting problems, vibration, noise, and don't even think about laying it down on the wrong side!). The other Honda engines are incredibly reliable, I have several.
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Old 06-01-2012
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Re: Brand new Honda 5HP Outboard won't start - should I switch mfg?

Always always always run it dry, i.e. detach the fuel line (or switch off the fuel if it has an integral fuel tank) and let it run itself to a stop. If you stop the engine with fuel still in the system and leave it even for a few days (especially if you are somewhere warm), chances are you aren't going to get it started again.
My Honda is from 1984 and starts easily (usually one or two pulls), my almost brand new Suzuki 2.5hp was sitting all winter and started on the first pull the other week.
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Old 06-01-2012
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Re: Brand new Honda 5HP Outboard won't start - should I switch mfg?

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Originally Posted by Night_Sailor View Post
I have a British Seagull I will sell you. Light and reliable.
And about as polluting as you would expect from 1930s technology.
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Old 06-01-2012
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Re: Brand new Honda 5HP Outboard won't start - should I switch mfg?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jrd22 View Post
jd- the Honda engines on lawnmowers, pressure washers, etc are completely different animals than the outboard engines. In general there is a lot of frustration with the new small four stroke outboards (starting problems, vibration, noise, and don't even think about laying it down on the wrong side!). The other Honda engines are incredibly reliable, I have several.
Maybe I didn't quite express my thoughts well but I also had a Honda outboard (after my Johnson 2 cycle blew its ignition pack after sundown and I was darn lucky to find a tow back to shore). I never did trust the 2 cycle motor after that and eventually replaced it with the Honda. Best boat related decision I ever made. The thing started eerily quick and always ran like a champ.
My other Honda motor experience was the same and I assumed the quality was inherent in all Honda small engines. The outboard experience goes back quite a while to when 4 stroke outboards first started to show up so it doesn't necessarily reflect on today's product.
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Old 06-16-2012
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Re: Brand new Honda 5HP Outboard won't start - should I switch mfg?

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Originally Posted by jrd22 View Post
Can't recommend a Yamaha 4 hp. Bought a new one a couple of years ago and it was pretty inconsistent about starting. I sold it and went back to a used two stroke Yamaha, starts every time. I think it's the four strokes, not the manufacturer.
I'm with you on the four strokes. While Honda makes excellent motorcycles, lawn mower engines, generators, autos, etc., something seems to be amiss with their 4 stroke outboards. And not just Honda. I am not enough of an engineer to understand why no manufacturer can make a 4 stroke that starts easily and runs reliably. I've have owned both a Honda and an Evinrude, neither consistent enough to get out on the water without carrying a Johnson 2 stroke (about 40 years old) as a backup. The 9.9 4 stroke on my Pearson 26 is on the blink again now. I would have converted it into an anchor long ago were it not for the 2 stroke not accommodating cockpit controls.
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