Boat Maintenance Tips October '12

All outboards are covered by a manufacturers warranty that clearly states what is covered both in the original factory warranty timeframe as well in various extended warranty periods. They are quite different and it is important to understand these to eliminate surprises when you need to go for warranty services.

There are milestones in an outboards life and two important ones are the break-in period and first scheduled service at 20 hours of operation. There is another very critical service interval I want to discuss here - the 100 hour or annual service.

Every outboard that is used in saltwater should be serviced by the dealer after the first 100 hours, and again each 100 hours or annually during its life. This is essential for longevity and performance but, more importantly, it establishes a record of inspection and maintenance that can prove of great value should a warranty situation arise down the road.

The manufacturers warranty is for defects in material and workmanship based on normal operating ranges/parameters. When a warranty claim is entered, the manufacturer will ask the servicing dealer three questions:

1). Is this a defect?

2). Is this lack of maintenance?

3). Is this abuse?

Abuse does not always include intentional or willful misuse of the product. Rather, abuse is most often due to lack of information. Heres an example:

We considered it normal to run a tunnel or cat hull with the jackplate raised six inches to cross a shallow flat in order to reach hallowed fishing grounds. Believe it or not, this is not normal throughout the industry. While we may not realize it locally, boats with jack plates represent only a very tiny fraction of the market yet they represent the highest rate of lower unit and cooling system related failure. We dont consider this abuse, but it is in the eyes of a manufacturer.

This is where annual or 100 hour service comes into play; so critical in demonstrating that you not only care about the long term performance of the product, but that you also strive to help them help you in the event of a questionable and/or expensive failure. Manufacturers want to help but they are not limitless in their ability. Do your annuals and ask your dealer to show you how to protect the product, explain the warranties and warning systems, and what you can do on a regular basis to insure your experience will remain trouble-free.

The time to understand warranty is at the time of sale, not after the problem occurs.

This article is dedicated in memory of my father, Don Mapp, one the finest and most respectful anglers I have ever known.

Chris Mapp
Coastal Bend Marine
Port OConnor, TX
361 983 4841