Are you looking for an outboard for your boat and wondering if a unit from the Yamaha lineup could be the right one? Like most of their competitors, this Japanese manufacturer has a lineup of reliable outboards that can meet any demand. And even better, they are quite easy to maintain, assuming you have a quality Yamaha outboard manual to rely on.
Nonetheless, with so many power outputs and features available, choosing the right one is not a simple job. Besides, things like boat size and intended use are additional factors to consider during the selection process. In this article, we will explore Yamaha’s outboards, find out how good they are, and compare them against Mercury, one of the biggest names in the industry.
Are Yamaha Outboards Reliable?
Yamaha offers a wide range of outboards, with each of them aiming at different applications. There are compact and light units ranging from 2.5 to 6 horsepower, suitable for light boats and tenders. Step up on the list is the series of outboards with power outputs that range from 30 to 115 horsepower. These will be ideal for medium-sized vessels or even those larger ones that travel at lower speeds.
Lastly, there are several strong V6 and V8 outboards that produce anywhere between 150 and 425 horsepower. These are the units that will find their application on heavy offshore vessels or speed boats. Besides conventional propped outboards, Yamaha offers Jet-Drive ones, which are ideal for use in shallow waters. And worth mentioning, all of Yamaha’s current outboards are powered by modern four-stroke engines.
Despite the differences in configurations and power outputs, all Yamaha outboards share similar characteristics, with undeniable reliability being one of them. Indeed, over the years, these machines have gained a reputation of being as durable and robust as it gets.
Two major reasons make this possible, with the technical design of these outboards being one of them. Instead of assuming favorable running conditions, Yamaha builds their outboards so they can cope with all sorts of real-life situations, including incorrect usage, improper maintenance, or even a complete lack of it.
As a result, their outboards are less fragile and can take a lot of abuse. And in those rare events of a breakdown, fixing them is pretty straightforward, which is another reason for their popularity. Furthermore, Yamaha OEM service manuals are some of the best in the game. If you know your way around boat engines, there is no doubt you’ll be able to fix your own using one of those.
What Does SHO Mean on Yamaha Outboards?
Two-stroke engines have dominated the worldwide outboard market for decades, thanks to their unique upsides. Compared to four-stroke variants, they are not only lighter and more compact but also offer better acceleration and overall performance.
As an additional advantage, this engine type has considerably fewer components and moving parts, which reduces the probability of a breakdown. On the downside, these outboards burn more fuel, produce more emissions, and may even leave an oily trail behind them since a two-stroke engine uses a mixture of fuel and oil for both lubrication and combustion. Still, these shortcomings had a minimal impact on their popularity, especially among recreational users, despite competitive four-stroke variants being widely available.
However, back in 2009, this would change practically overnight, after Yamaha introduced their revolutionary SHO outboard motor. Containing a popular VMAX line, this was an outboard like no other before and offered some game-changing characteristics.
Unlike its predecessors, who all used traditional two-stroke engines, this new unit had a modern four-stroker inside. But despite that, it was quite lighter and more powerful than any comparable two-stroke outboard at the time. The technology that makes such superior performance possible traces its roots to the world of aircraft engines and automotive motorsports.
Together with a unique propeller design, this ensures better accelerations, more precise handling, and higher top speed. The current SHO lineup ranges from a 90 HP four-cylinder outboard to a powerful six-cylinder unit that produces 250 HP.
Are Yamaha Outboards Better than Mercury?
Questions such as this have always been the subject of endless debates, with most of them having no simple answer. This is like asking if Ford makes better trucks than Chevy or if a Suzuki is a better motorcycle than a Honda. With Yamaha and Mercury offering outboards with similar power ranges and corresponding prices, it all may come down to specific requirements and personal preferences. Still, some additional features may help when choosing between the two.
One of them is power outputs, which may be similar between both brands, but with ways of achieving them being different. While Yamaha relies on that well-proven ‘no replacement for displacement’ recipe, most Mercury outboards use superchargers.
While forced induction ensures superb accelerations and improves fuel efficiency, it also adds mechanical complexity and may affect reliability. In addition, these supercharged units require premium-quality fuel, which may not always be available. On the other hand, Yamaha outboards are generally lighter, thanks to advanced technologies and materials.
Both manufacturers are neck-to-neck when it comes to warranty, both offering 3 years limited warranty. It’s also the same with controls. Both Yamaha and Mercury have digital controls for all their bigger units. As for pricing, this can differ a lot depending on the dealer, promotions, and so on. But regardless of that, there is not much price difference between these two manufacturers across their ranges.
Which is Easier to Repair?
As a general rule, Yamaha outboards tend to be more reliable and easier to repair. But that might also be subject to debate. As mentioned above, even if Yamaha motors have fewer parts, you will still need a proper Yamaha maintenance manual to make sure it’s correctly maintained.
But of course, that would also apply to a Mercury outboard or any other engine for that matter. In both cases, make sure you get your hands on your engine’s repair manual so you can follow the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals.
Having access to a Yamaha service manual will also provide helpful information and diagnostic/replacement procedures to make sure you save even more money if something was to go awry. If you are looking for a quality repair manual, make sure to take a look here. They’ve got manuals for literally everything.
As we showed here, Yamaha offers a wide range of outboards, with each of them being suitable for a specific application. With different configurations and power outputs available, this includes anything from propelling small fishing boats to powering large offshore vessels. Still, all of them share similar characteristics, with a rugged reliability that made this Japanese manufacturer popular being one of them. As an additional upside, all their outboards are light and offer competitive power outputs. All this makes Yamaha an ideal choice for all users looking for a powerful and robust outboard.