Honda is no stranger to outboard manufacturing. In fact, it’s been producing 4-stroke outboard motors since 1964. By 1967, the company had started selling its outboards in the United States and was well on its way to sit atop the American boating industry. Today, it is one of the leading brands dominating the marine engine market in North America.
But do better sales figures mean better reliability? In this article, we will look at what makes Honda outboards reliable, what gives them an edge over the competition, and why you’ll need to get your hands on a good Honda outboard service manual before considering DIY repairs here. (Spoiler alert: Honda outboards are well-engineered but also more complicated to repair than most.)
The Japanese giant is highly revered for its superior build quality and long-lasting power units. Honda even claims that its marine outboards are often designed on the same platform used to produce its durable automotive engines, including best-selling models like the Accord and Odyssey.
Still, Honda’s superiority doesn’t stop here. The manufacturer also boasts a repertoire of awards for its marine engines, including the IMTEC Innovation Award, and the Popular Mechanics’ Design and Engineering Award.
JD Power has also honored the Japanese manufacturer’s 4-stroke outboard with its Customer Satisfaction award. But what really stands out is that Honda won the National Marine Manufacturers Association CSI award for Customer Satisfaction fifteen years in a row. Only a few competitors such as Briggs and Stratton or Yamaha can come close in terms of quality and overall reliability.
However, like most machinery, Honda outboards aren’t invincible. With time they may develop common complications, including oil leaks and heating problems. Several owners also complain of starting problems on older Honda outboards. Luckily, these issues are relatively minor and can easily be fixed using a Honda marine shop manual.
There’s no denying it, Honda outboards aren’t cheap to maintain. They come equipped with more complex technology and require a little more knowledge to take apart. On average, it can cost up to $400 annually to maintain a 4-stroke outboard. Besides, a full service, including the impeller can cost upwards of $1000.
Other common repairs include spark plug changes, fuel filter replacements, gear oil changes, and water pump kit replacements (they tend to leak).
However, repairs don’t always have to be this pricey. Most repair shops or dealers charge extra labor costs. Hence, if you are a DIYer and know your way around tools, you can do some of the repairs yourself. If you decide to do that, a Honda marine owner’s manual and the corresponding repair manual will be your best friends here. You’ll be able to find detailed troubleshooting procedures and step-by-step replacement instructions, covering pretty much any component. Not sure where to find one? Check out the manual online. Their manuals will show you how to maintain your outboard and cost less than a single spark plug.
Honda recommends servicing its outboards every 100 hours or at least once every year (whichever comes first). And of course, make sure not to skip the scheduled maintenance. While it may seem cost-effective at first, it can eventually take a toll on your outboard and will cost a lot more in repairs in the long run.
Honda outboard’s reliability is equally matched by the technology. The company has been manufacturing marine engines for over 45 years now and has tried, tested, and applied various innovative ideas to make them last even longer.
For instance, whenever you buy a Honda outboard, you get their 4-Front Corrosion Protection, using sacrificial anodes to protect the engine from galvanic corrosion. The 3-way cooling system also ensures longer running hours and keeps the engine in good working conditions for years to come.
Low Operating Costs
Although Honda outboards are generally more expensive to maintain, they are incredibly fuel-efficient. On average, Honda’s 4-stroke motors consume 50% less fuel than a traditional 2-stroke motor. If you use your boats pretty regularly, you’ll see that the savings you’ll make on fuel alone will more than makeup for the higher maintenance cost — especially if you put some elbow grease into it.
So are Honda outboards reliable? Without a doubt, “yes.” Not only are they one of the most reliable outboards in the market, but they also come with a ton of features that will give any manufacturer a run for its money.
And if you are like me and like to fix stuff on your own, Honda marine manuals are the way to go. After all, this is exactly what certified mechanics also use. A quick trick is to buy the parts, follow the procedures in the manual, and do the replacement yourself. Not only will you learn a lot, but you’ll also avoid the hassle of having to go to the mechanic every time — a true win-win scenario if you ask me.