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Old 04-23-2017, 10:35 AM   #1
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Outboard Problem

Hi All--input needed:

My Whaler tender has a 2014 Mercury 4-stroke outboard which I purchased new. Each April I bring the outboard to MarineMax in Stuart FL for it's annual "by the book" service. Since we live aboard we don't have a trailer so I drive the tender on the water to MarineMax; about a 10 minute trip on the St. Lucie River.

On the way to service a loud alarm started sounding. I shut the engine down, tilted it up to look for a plastic bag or some other debris blocking the water intake and found nothing. Lowered the engine. waited a minute or two and checked the oil. It was fine as well. Started the motor again and the alarm started blaring again. Finally I had a friend come out and tow me the rest of the way to MM.

Two days later I received a call from MM telling me the engine had been serviced and the temperature sensor replaced under warranty and all is well. I motored away from MM and within a couple of hundred yards the alarm went off again. (So much for QC). Back she goes to the shop.

A week later I was advised that they replaced the water pump and the thermostat and that it was still sounding an alarm. I was asked if I flush the engine with fresh water after every use. I explained that I do when feasible but that it is not possible when cruising from FL to CT and anchoring most of the time. They said that I MUST flush it every time as per mfg, recommendation. They went on to say that they must now remove the power head to see what the problem is. They said that if it is corrosion, I am covered under the warranty but if there is a foreign object causing a blockage I would be responsible for the repair.

They told me I must authorize the expense but I would not be charged if it is a warranted item. The labor cost is $120/hour and they estimate 6-hours of labor just to remove the power head. FYI, the engine's computer shows a total of 97 hours of use. Input and suggestions will be much appreciated.
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Old 04-23-2017, 10:55 AM   #2
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What model is it?

I don't know of any ob mfr that requires flushing for warranty to remain in effect. Look in owners manual to see if there is such a clause. If no such clause, ask them to fix it per the warranty without any financial input from you.

Was motor "peeing" as it should? Was an actual overheat detected with an IR gun? Alarm can come from low oil pressure too.
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Old 04-23-2017, 11:19 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Ski in NC View Post
What model is it?

I don't know of any ob mfr that requires flushing for warranty to remain in effect. Look in owners manual to see if there is such a clause. If no such clause, ask them to fix it per the warranty without any financial input from you.

Was motor "peeing" as it should? Was an actual overheat detected with an IR gun? Alarm can come from low oil pressure too.
Ski--
The motor was "peeing" as it should. They claim to have tested with an IR gun and that the head was 100 degrees higher than normal. Model is 25 ELPT 4S.
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Old 04-23-2017, 11:56 AM   #4
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Hold firm on them honoring warranty. Sounds like a valid claim. It is on them to prove some action of yours caused the situation if they want to deny warranty.

If they say flushing is required after every use for warranty to be in effect, demand that they show that in writing.

May be worth a call to Merc customer support or whatever.
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Old 04-23-2017, 12:15 PM   #5
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Ski,
What would your position be if they say I picked up debris. I have already told them that I want to see what they find when they remove the power head. Should debris get that far to begin with?
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Old 04-23-2017, 12:24 PM   #6
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If you picked up debris, I would expect it to show up in the "pee" tell-tale.

Most outboard powerheads are designed with pretty generous passages so that anything that can make it through the water intake screen on the foot, will flush harmlessly through the powerhead. Might clog thermostat, but that was already checked.

Have you been prop-dredging with this thing? Worn all the paint off the lower? If not, doubt it is debris.

A little skeptical of the troubleshooting. That thing is way too new for the typical passages blocked by corrosion type thing. Any way to get another pair of eyes on it without ruffling feathers?
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Old 04-23-2017, 01:03 PM   #7
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Ski-
Your input is much appreciated. The foot has never touched bottom. All paint is original and prop has all its paint as well. Would low oil pressure raise the temp of the powerhead?
I'm planning to call them, tomorrow and request to meet with the tech before they do anything to the power head. I want to see the IR test done in my presence and point out some of the points you made as well. What do you think about 6-hours to pull the powerhead? Is that reasonable? BTW, the tech that will work on it is a different one than the original. He is a certified Mercury "Master Technician" or so they claim.
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Old 04-23-2017, 01:29 PM   #8
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Regardless of whether there is corrosion or debris blocking the cooling water...they sent the motor out of the shop with their stamp of approval !! I would harp on that until they agreed to at least diagnose the problem without charge. Once the problem is identified....then determine if its a warranty issue. They obviously didn't run it up to temperature during their test run, and if this issue gets to a corporate service rep that will be apparent. I would think they wouldn't want corporate to be aware of their shortcoming.

I'm just curious...did you buy the motor from them ??
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Old 04-23-2017, 01:37 PM   #9
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Benthic,

Good points. Yes I bought it from them---and the boat too.
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Old 04-23-2017, 01:46 PM   #10
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Master tech may have some troubleshooting ideas other than pulling the powerhead. If it pee's well, pump is ok. Original tech might have flubbed the tstat.

I'd be surprised if the fix requires pulling the p-head.
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Old 04-23-2017, 01:54 PM   #11
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I will be at the service department's door when they open tomorrow.
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Old 04-23-2017, 03:33 PM   #12
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How much to ship that thing to Ski in NC? Depending upon their answers in the morning I'd be ready to box it up.
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Old 04-23-2017, 04:30 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by hmason View Post
I will be at the service department's door when they open tomorrow.
I can sum my thoughts on this up to two words.

Marine Max.

I would refuse to sign anything outside of warranty service and if they refused to figure it out under those conditions, then I'd call Mercury and either resolve it or arrange to take it elsewhere. They had it in, failed to fix it. Then they reported something else and then they went down this insane route to potentially claim you screwed it up by not flushing every single use. I don't know and have never known anyone who kept a boat in the water and did that. When you use it today and are going to use it tomorrow and it's sitting behind your boat, you're not going to flush it. They're trying to cover themselves without even knowing the problem and they're indicating that they're about to proceed with an extreme plan without really checking everything else out well.

Here's what the manual says:
We recommend that you flush the internal water passages of
your outboard with fresh water after each use in salt or polluted
water. This will prevent a buildup of deposits from clogging the
water passages. Refer to Maintenance ‑ Flushing the Cooling
System.
First, they recommend, don't require. Second, I do not read that as meaning every day you use it but rather when not going to use it for a while or removing it from the water. They don't anticipate someone with three Verado 300's flushing them daily.

I have no trust for what you're hearing from Marine Max. They've already shown lack of thoroughness and problem solving skills.
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Old 04-23-2017, 05:04 PM   #14
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Thanks B, You are right where I am on this.
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Old 04-23-2017, 05:10 PM   #15
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Thanks B, You are right where I am on this.
If it doesn't sound right, it probably isn't right.
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:39 PM   #16
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I'd tell MM to cease and desist on touching the engine any more until you have discussion with Mercury Engineering Professionals regarding this most untenable developing situation. Then, I'd immediately call Mercury HQ and with all items listed on paper for quick reference I'd discuss circumstances occurring, including that MM already gave it back to you as completely rectified - which it was not!

Regarding six [6] hours for mechanic's labor time to pull the power head - Please! Sounds to me that MM is for some reason Zooooming you.
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Old 04-23-2017, 07:08 PM   #17
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Greetings,
Mr, hm. Wow! 6 hrs @ $120 per....That's like a LOT of...

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Old 04-23-2017, 08:50 PM   #18
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A week later I was advised that they replaced the water pump and the thermostat and that it was still sounding an alarm. I was asked if I flush the engine with fresh water after every use. I explained that I do when feasible but that it is not possible when cruising from FL to CT and anchoring most of the time. They said that I MUST flush it every time as per mfg, recommendation. They went on to say that they must now remove the power head to see what the problem is. They said that if it is corrosion, I am covered under the warranty but if there is a foreign object causing a blockage I would be responsible for the repair.

They told me I must authorize the expense but I would not be charged if it is a warranted item. The labor cost is $120/hour and they estimate 6-hours of labor just to remove the power head. FYI, the engine's computer shows a total of 97 hours of use. Input and suggestions will be much appreciated.
Redelivering the o/b after service with the issue not fixed deserves criticism.
That aside, they seem to be saying they will cover corrosion under warranty, despite it being potentially the result of not fresh water flushing as "recommended", but will not cover blockage due to foreign material sucked in. Flushing with fresh water is just running more water through it, query no more likely to remove foreign objects than salt water.
Seems to me the question of "who pays" comes back to whether the design adequately excludes foreign material getting drawn in.
If foreign material is the problem, and their design is ok, what has the mfr done wrong that invokes warranty? And if it`s not a motor fault, why not ask the owner to sign up to foot the bill.
As suggested by others, as there is good water flow, it is quite likely the problem is not a blockage.
Whatever the position, the dealer seems to have messed up by poor diagnosis, testing, and redelivering an unrepaired engine. Arguably, they should now sort it out, in good faith at their own expense, whatever the cause.
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Old 04-23-2017, 09:42 PM   #19
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The mechanic can pick up a piece of grit off the floor and say it was obstructing the pathway, therefore you are paying. Try to prove it wasn't. I think a carrot is better method when you have no authority over them.
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Old 04-23-2017, 09:56 PM   #20
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I was a mercury dealer in the 70's and 6 hrs for pulling a powerhead??? Go to another dealer-if I remember correctly we got 6 hrs to rebuild a 6 cly. powerhead=pistons,rings and bearings, etc. Have someone ck water pressure, thermostat, oil pressure, timing and fuel delivery.
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