To have the best boating performance, you need to select the proper engine. By understanding four-stroke vs two-stroke, horsepower needs, and prop selection, you’ll be on the right track to picking the best option for your needs. Learn how to choose an outboard motor, below.
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Four-Stroke or Two-Stroke?
One of the great debates in choosing an outboard motor is deciding between a two-stroke or four-stroke engine. Most people believe that four-strokes are better, but that’s not always the case.
A four-stroke burns straight gasoline within the cylinders and circulates oil through a separate system. Alternatively, two-stroke engines burn mixed oil and gas. Generally, four-strokes tend to be heavier, quieter, and more fuel-efficient. They are often believed to have greater longevity.
For most people, a four-stroke engine is a better choice. Unless you have a small, light boat, you’ll likely prefer a four-stroke engine.
How Much Horsepower?
When purchasing a motor, you’ll also need to decide on horsepower. Of course, most boaters want as much as possible, but high horsepower isn’t always the right choice. First, you’ll have to check the manufacturer’s limits for your craft, and you’ll also need to select the right boat-to-horsepower ratio. Generally speaking, the larger your boat, the more horsepower you will need for smooth performance.
Your preference for fuel efficiency should also be considered. However, just because a motor is more powerful, that doesn’t automatically mean it burns more gas. Find the ideal horsepower for both performance and efficiency.
You’ll also want to consider how you’ll be using the boat, as well as how many passengers you plan to carry. If you want to do skiing behind a heavier boat, for example, you’ll need more horsepower to quickly reach the ideal speed.
Finding the Right Propeller
Another important choice for your boat is what propeller (prop) you need mounted to the engine. The condition of your prop is often more important than the specific type you select. Because of this, it’s important to replace it regularly. A damaged prop can destroy the engine by creating unnecessary resistance, so don’t neglect prop replacement.
Most people prefer stainless steel props. Stainless steel is five times stronger than aluminum. However, aluminum is cheaper and, because it’s softer, will help protect the lower unit. Essentially, if a strong stainless steel prop won’t break, the force will cause damage to the lower unit. But if the softer aluminum breaks, it saves the unit. This can make aluminum props more cost-effective for the overall expense of boat ownership.
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