5 Things To Think About When Buying A Mercury Outboard Engine

When it comes to buying a new outboard engine, there are plenty of things you need to consider.

Buying the wrong engine can be a costly mistake. And buying a used engine if you don’t have the right knowledge could leave you with an expensive doorstop.

That’s why going with a trusted brand is a surefire way to get quality. These brands have a reputation for a reason, and Mercury has one of the best reputations. Nevertheless, there are still a whole lot of things to think about when you’re shopping around for a new outboard.

Read on for our top tips on what to look for when buying a Mercury outboard engine.

How Will It Fit Into Your Lifestyle?

When it comes to buying a new outboard engine, the first thing you should consider is how is this going to fit into your lifestyle? Think carefully about what exactly you need from your new purchase.

Are you looking for an auxiliary outboard for your sailboat? Maybe you’re looking for a portable outboard for your skiff? These factors will determine which engine is right for you.

Who will be operating the boat? An experienced mariner or a landlubber? Is it a solo vessel, or will there be crew?

Something that never used to factor into buying decisions, because there were no alternatives, was the dominant hand of the operator of the vessel. Tiller engines never used to discriminate, as long as you were right-handed.

Mercury has solved a problem that many left-handed people will surely rejoice about: ambidextrous tillers. The 2022 Mercury 15 HP ELH EFI is the first outboard motor to feature ambidextrous tillers.

This means that left-handed folks, or your distant uncle that lost an arm in a fishing accident once, will be able to operate this engine comfortably.

Shaft Length

One of the most important things to consider when buying an outboard is shaft length. In a nutshell, shaft length is the vertical distance between the inside of the clamp and the cavitation plate (yes, we know the correct term is anti-ventilation plate).

For most instances, planing boats should have the cavitation plate sitting at the same level as the hull, or even an inch or 2 above. For heavier boats or displacement hulls the cavitation plate should be a few inches below the hull. This all determines what length of shaft would be most appropriate.

For example, an auxiliary outboard for a sailboat should have a long shaft. This is due to the combination of a high transom and the displacement hull.

The 2022 Mercury 9.9ELH FourStroke has a 20 inch shaft, which is considered long enough for use with a sailboat.

If you want the same engine, but need a shorter shaft, the 2022 Mercury 9.9EH FourStroke is the engine for you. The shaft comes in at 15 inches, making this engine suitable for skiffs and small pontoons.

How Much Power Do You Really Need

This ties in to the two points above, but try to avoid overpowering your vessel unnecessarily. This might be tempting, but the efficiency of everything goes down if the vessel and the engine are mismatched.

The evidence of this can be seen when Mercury released the 600hp V-12 Verado outboard. These outboards are so powerful that yacht builders are now designing boats around these engines, as opposed to the other way around.

So, make sure the size of the engine matches the size of your boat. And, while we’re at it, make sure the shaft length matches the size of the engine, too. Most smaller engines have a smaller shaft size, and finding an engine under 100 hp with a shaft size of more than 20 inches is rare.

If that’s what you’re after, Mercury has an engine for you. The 2022 Mercury 15 EXLPT Prokicker Fourstroke is a 15 hp engine with a 25 inch shaft length. However, if 15 hp is too much for your boat, this engine comes in a smaller size with the 2022 Mercury 9.9EXLPT ProKicker EFI FourStroke.

This range is being rated by Mercury as the best trolling engine for angling competitions.

What’s Your Budget?

Knowing how much you want to spend upfront is a good place to start. This will give you an idea from the very beginning whether you want to go with a used engine or a brand new engine.

A brand new engine comes with all the obvious benefits. It’s new, so you should have a long time of hassle free use ahead of you. It also comes with factory warranties and a blank slate in terms of service history.

That all comes with a price, though, and new engines are expensive.

On the other hand, you can save a lot of money upfront by choosing a used engine. The downside to this is that you don’t really know what you’re getting and you might be dead in the water before you know it. Make sure to buy some oars at the same time as your used engine.

The upfront cost gets all the attention. What’s often forgotten about is the running cost. If you’re handy with engines and know your way around a gearbox, this running cost will drop significantly.

If you’re still figuring out which end of the screwdriver to use, though, your maintenance costs will be considerably higher.

So, while a new engine will be more of an upfront cost, the maintenance costs SHOULD be much lower. Regular services should be the extent of it.

When it comes to used engines your maintenance costs could skyrocket, with no end in sight.

Sometimes buying new is the cheaper option when you look at the maintenance costs spanning the life of the engine. Which brings us to the next point.

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency is great because it gives you more time on the water and less time at the fuel dock. That’s the obvious benefit, anyway.

Fuel efficiency also has a significant effect on the lifetime maintenance cost of your engine. Saving a couple of bucks each time at the pump might not seem like a big deal, but over the life of the engine, those dollars start adding up.

That’s part of the reason why there’s been such a big push to make engines so much more fuel efficient over the years. An unexpected side effect is that a lot of the individual parts of the engine go through less stress while in use. Because everything is becoming more streamlined and flows more smoothly, you might notice less wear and tear on your engine.

So there you have it. Our 5 top tips when it comes to choosing a Mercury outboard. The most important would be choosing an outboard that fits into your lifestyle seamlessly. That way you can be sure to get what you need from your purchase.

Important: Due to the pandemic, many marine manufacturers, Mercury included, are experiencing shortages. This can make it difficult to get engines immediately. We have them on backorder so we’ll have them in stock by March 2022.

So if you have your eye on a Mercury outboard, we recommend pre-purchasing so that you can be ready for the season on time.