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  1. #1
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    Default Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    Hello,I have a rather lucky dilemma I'm hoping someone on this forum can help me with. My wife and I are looking at buying a new boat, and have the option of switching from a 60 HP 4 cycle to a 90 HP 2 cycle motor (both Merc outboards) for an extra $200. My wife really wants the extra HP, and we don't mind the extra noise. I think we are fine with the extra fuel use as well. However, the part that I am not sure on is the difference in warranties and potential reliability/maintenance. According to the dealer the 2 cycle only has a 1 year warranty, but the 4 cycle has a 3 year warranty. This surprised me because I was of the impression 2 cycle motors were more durable. Can anyone here offer some suggestions on how to weigh this choice?

  2. #2
    Fleet Admiral WillyBWright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    Welcome to iboats. I'll warn you about the main complaint about the 90 (I'm assuming it's an old style conventional 2-stroke). It idles Very rough. The warranty thing is mostly Marketing and they want to push the 4-strokes as much as possible. I'm not even sure if the 90 is still on the market. It may be a leftover 2005? I know of no major reliability issues for either motor as long as they're appropriately maintained. The 4-stroke may cost a bit more to maintain in the long run, but it's not a huge difference. If we're talking about the 90 OptiMax, the jury is still out. Too new to tell.
    Hey, Have you seen? They make Really Cool life preservers nowadays.
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  3. #3
    Senior Chief Petty Officer
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    The 90 must be an Optimax. You should be aware that Powerboat Reports found the 90 Optimax to be extremely loud (more than your average 2-stroke). And this was with a decibel meter, not simply an opinion.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    [duplicate reply]

  5. #5
    Commander Clams Canino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    As far as the true test of reliability... the 4-strokes have to age to 20-30 years old to see if they last as well. -W
    If you need to reach me - study my profile

  6. #6
    Commander studlymandingo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    My wife really wants the extra HP
    Does your wife have a sister?!!
    The wetter, the better.

  7. #7
    Petty Officer 2nd Class
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    swist...don't you mean the Opti is slightly louder than the same hp 4 stroke!!!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    Thanks for all of the replies! I don't think it is an optimax because on their web site for other boats they offer the Optimax as an option, and for this one they refer to it as "50 ELPTO TwoStroke". Also, I was thinking the Optimax would have been more money for this kind of HP upgrade. I didn't realize there were any reservations about the Optimax, and probably would have preferred it before reading this based on the marketing material (lower fuel consumption, etc). I'll check with the dealer to find out for sure. Assuming this is last year's model of 2 cycyle, how much of an issue is the rough idle? Does it cut out/stall, or does it just sound rough (like a car with a high performance cam)?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    Originally posted by studlymandingo:
    My wife really wants the extra HP
    Does your wife have a sister?!!
    LOL No, sorry! This was the big surprise when we bought our first boat (115 HP 18 ft 1979 Ranger). She told me to get it for myself, but that she would go along to keep me company. After riding in the boat a few times she found she really loved cruising at top speed, and now she always notices the HP number on any boat we see.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    yes TX it is not an optimax. It is a carbed 90. the elpto stands for electric start, power trim and tilt, and oil injection too. Being a new engine it will not (or should not for that matter) stall while idling. Its more of just a loud rough sounding idle, just like you said.
    2005 Glastron SX 170
    2005 150 Mercury XR6


    1999 fisher V-1667 utility
    1992 Mercury 40 classic (4cyl)

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    double post...sorry
    2005 Glastron SX 170
    2005 150 Mercury XR6


    1999 fisher V-1667 utility
    1992 Mercury 40 classic (4cyl)

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    I have this model motor (2003). I think all the idle complaints are over rated. My neighbour has a 115 yammie. It is smoother but once my motor is started and slightly warmed up, idle is pretty smooth. Anything above 1200rpm and there is no difference.I got the 90 over the merc 115 because I did not like the 2 + 2 and my WOT is 5000 to 5500 RPM whereas the 115 is 4500 to 5000 RPM. On my speedo, with a full tank and a 21" aluminum prop, I'll be doing about 54MPH (which I figure is off by about 10%) and turning 5600 RPM.Tx.

  13. #13
    Commander Clams Canino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    Originally posted by TxRedbeard: and now she always notices the HP number on any boat we see.
    Heh.... she'd have fun with my outboard - no HP designation anywhere on it. -W
    If you need to reach me - study my profile

  14. #14
    Senior Chief Petty Officer
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    I meant the Optimax is louder than other 90 hp 2-stroke engines, DFI or otherwise. But apparently the point is moot, this being a carbed engine. I too am surprised it was still being sold as late as 2005.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    I lot of women who are tuned into those horsepower numbers really like big Johnsons...Sorry, couldn't resist!

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    Originally posted by TxRedbeard: Hello,I have a rather lucky dilemma I'm hoping someone on this forum can help me with. My wife and I are looking at buying a new boat, and have the option of switching from a 60 HP 4 cycle to a 90 HP 2 cycle motor (both Merc outboards) for an extra $200. My wife really wants the extra HP, and we don't mind the extra noise. I think we are fine with the extra fuel use as well. However, the part that I am not sure on is the difference in warranties and potential reliability/maintenance. According to the dealer the 2 cycle only has a 1 year warranty, but the 4 cycle has a 3 year warranty. This surprised me because I was of the impression 2 cycle motors were more durable. Can anyone here offer some suggestions on how to weigh this choice?
    Others have written about the warranty issue. My experience with friends' recent vintage large Merc 2 strokes is that they are very reliable, easy starting, well running engines. They just don't have any problems starting, idling or going fast. They are two stroke carb'd engines though and smoke and smell like one. I never noticed a rough idle issue, but then again, I have this general expecation (maybe wrong) of large 2 strokes that they are never swiss watches. Some are smoother than others, for sure, but they're large two strokes and they are what they are.But my main point would be - a 60 4 stroke and a 90 2 stroke - this is a huge apples and oranges issue just because of the HP. They are just totally differnt beasts, not only because one's a 2 and the other a 4 stroke. There's probably more than 50% more power in the 90 (because of HP and weight) - that could be night and day depending on the boat, load, use, etc. I don't know if this makes any sense, but there will be so much difference in net power that it's just not a subtle comparison at all. If you're looking for speed and power, it's black and white - the 90 will definitely serve you much better. If you're looking for quiet, better idling/trolling performance, less smoke and smell the 60 might be the choice. Note I said "definitely" in one case and "might" in the other. In my opinion there's a cut and dried difference in power, but but much less of a relative difference in the other issues (idling, quietness, smellyness). Others may disagree.Probably the bang-for-buck in HP with the 2 stroke is exactly because they're getting phased out? A great deal for those of us who want that mix of features (like low weight and high power and dont' mind the smoke and paying for the fuel - for whatever reason). Good luck with your choice!

  17. #17
    Fleet Admiral Texasmark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    Noise is relative. If you are going fast enough, it's all behind you. GrinThe 3 cyl 2 cycle 90 is a super engine, but only 3 cyl. After having had a 6 cyl tower, it idles a bit rougher, but not bothersome.What I do like is the tuned exhausts on the 3 cyl. When you are turning thru 2-3k rpms you hear this sweet sound (tuned exhaust pipe resonances) that only the 3 can give you.Now as to fuel efficiency, I hear all this hype about 4 cycle fuel efficiency. Well, maybe as compared to a cross flow, back in the days when cross flow was all that you could get (yes 10-4 as compared to crossflow), but I'm hear to tell you folks, a good looper, like the current 90 is (and the direct injection tower was), is really hard to beat for weight, efficiency, reliability, and performance. I can go out on a fishing outing, have a jolly good time, and if I burn 2 gallons of fuel, I've been out a long time and most of the time out was (am) not fishing, but running and running fast...WOT 60% of the time.Another misnomer; Noisy outboards (2 cy).......You can't compare the noise levels of 2 cy from 20 years ago to todays. Night and day. Somebody is blowing smoke up your.........BTDT numerous times.Mark
    If you are new to boating or have a new boat, a knowledgeable friend could show you how to operate your boat and save you a lot of grief, maybe some money, and maybe your life.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    Wow! I can't thank all of you enough for your excellent feedback. Seeing all of the positive thoughts about this motor has convinced me. I called the dealer this morning and they are going to have it rigged up for me to pick up/sign on Saturday. The boat is a 16 ft Nitro bass boat, and they have it listed as doing 35-37 mph with the 60 hp 4 cycle, so this should really perform nicely with the 90 HP 2 cycle. Also, I checked and this is the 3 cylinder.

  19. #19
    Petty Officer 2nd Class
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    Default Re: Reliability of Mercury 2 cycle vs 4 cycle outboards.

    Originally posted by TxRedbeard:
    Originally posted by studlymandingo:
    My wife really wants the extra HP
    Does your wife have a sister?!!
    LOL No, sorry! This was the big surprise when we bought our first boat (115 HP 18 ft 1979 Ranger). She told me to get it for myself, but that she would go along to keep me company. After riding in the boat a few times she found she really loved cruising at top speed, and now she always notices the HP number on any boat we see.
    Does your wife have a neice, daughter or cousin around 27? ;-)

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