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Old 02 August 2021, 05:08   #1
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Mercury 4-Stroke 20hp service?

I have a 2020 Mercury 4-Stroke 20hp EFI that I bought last July, making it now just over a year old. It’s my first outboard and I wanted to buy it new for the reliability, being a first time user.
I think I’m right in saying (but correct me if I’m wrong) that I need to get it serviced by a Mercury authorised dealer in order to uphold the warranty status…
I have had a couple of service quotes, the cheapest of which is £300-£350 but didn’t want to waste the money if it weren’t needed.
My dilemma is that the engine has had such light use. I worked out that it’s only had 12hrs use within the year… does it actually need a full service? Is there just a couple of things I can check and do here myself? Or am I mental to void the warranty?!
I’ve looked at annual service/100hr service kits and I wondered if if were something I could do myself - I’m pretty practical but have never worked on an engine before.

Sorry if this has been covered elsewhere but I couldn’t find the answers to all these Q’s for someone in my situation. Thanks
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Old 02 August 2021, 05:24   #2
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That is an utterly staggering price for a first yearly service.

There is nothing that thoughtful DIY can't do on this service. I'd be buying or downloading a maintenance manual and buy a service kit (£85ish at a guess).

Being realistic at 12hrs/1yr you won't need to use everything in the kit (impellor etc, spark plugs, anode/s) then just replace the parts you have used for the next year. You may only use £40 or less of the parts.

What you have to work out in the risk/reward balance is that you will be giving up the warranty or at least making a claim much harder for the service cost saving.

How long is your warranty... 5yrs? If so you will have spent some £1200+ on servicing plus the travel costs/time of the dealer yearly visits compared with say £350 by DIY at home.

I had the first 20hr service after a few months on my new 2016 Suzuki 20efi at the dealer, they were rubbish and I took the DIY decision after that for the first yearly service.

You might be interested in the thread I did on that as broadly speaking you would be looking at similar operations on yours.

https://www.rib.net/forum/f36/suzuki...ice-75209.html
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Old 02 August 2021, 06:37   #3
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I've had a couple of brand new engines in the last few years, Suzuki 20, Mercury 40, and now I'm glad to be off the servicing cash cow with an older but low hour Suzuki 50. The way I saw it was that it adds value if you intend to sell/upgrade within the warranty period. If it's a long term purchase and you are reasonable with DIY then it's easy to do your own servicing and enjoy doing it, even with no prior OB experience. I never had much faith in warranties anyway. Always seem to be looking for a getout clause.

I wouldn't recommend you change your oil after 12 hours. At a minimum it should be starting to darken, and right now if still golden yellow it's carrying no particulates and it's simply a waste of time and money. That's what one dealer told me for my first (<20 actual hrs) service and I agree with that, he left it in and stamped the book.
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Old 02 August 2021, 06:47   #4
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Fenlander thanks for taking the time to reply. Yes I thought that £350 sounded expensive and I could see how the ££ would add up over the 5 years.

Great to know I should be able to handle the DIY. There are a couple of Merc service videos up on YouTube - do the service/workshop manuals have walkthroughs of specific tasks? Also, where's the best place for me to get a physical one please?
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Old 02 August 2021, 06:50   #5
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Limecc thank for that - yes I think the oil should be fine... the oil level seems to have hardly gone down at all and it looks good. I reckon I'll enjoy doing the service as long as I can be sure I'm doing things right!
I don't remember reading anything in the book about a 20hr service and there's nothing about it on the service stickers on the engine... is it an unessential one?
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Old 02 August 2021, 07:03   #6
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Limecc thank for that - yes I think the oil should be fine... the oil level seems to have hardly gone down at all and it looks good. I reckon I'll enjoy doing the service as long as I can be sure I'm doing things right!
I don't remember reading anything in the book about a 20hr service and there's nothing about it on the service stickers on the engine... is it an unessential one?
I think it's more a visual check and squirt with the grease gun for the first service. I don't know for your Merc but Suzuki had a time and hour requirement for the first service. There was no way for me to get the hours on the engine, I didn't even use it for the first four or five months due to it being winter, they automatically had a get out of jail card.

It's worth getting the best synthetic lubes you can. For the grease I got that red lithium Mobil1 stuff.
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Old 02 August 2021, 07:07   #7
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Limecc thanks for the advice on the 20hr service...

I take it that I should buy a Quicksilver/Mercury branded kit, like this?


https://pacermarine.co.uk/product/me...4-stroke-20hp/


So looking at the maintenance schedule below and what's included in the kit then it's hard to see what's left to do before 100hrs?!
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Old 02 August 2021, 08:15   #8
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Well that couldn't be more clear from the stickers.

If you buy Quicksilver kit from a proper dealer the receipts may help should you want to pursue any warranty claim.

For that reason, and personal preference, I'd not skip the oil/filter change because it says yearly and you are at that point.

I like the 3yr impeller change interval with no interim inspections. It's often a faff taking that apart to find the impeller and housing are perfect after the 1yr intervals that are common on other makes/models.

If you buy the kit shown you'll not need to use the plugs, fuel filter or impeller and have them for year 3.
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Old 02 August 2021, 10:55   #9
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Completely agree with Fenlander on this one. First oil change and filter will likely pick up any debris in the early running in period . My new engines due to light use only get serviced every 2-3 years and I've not had an issue . I do like good quality oils and genuine service parts especially impellers as the cheap copy ones are much more likely to fail.
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Old 02 August 2021, 10:59   #10
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The first oil changes are crucial at 20 hours on my Suzuki or at 1 month not sure about yours but there can be a lot of crap from initial build both gear and engine oil were dark on mine.
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Old 03 August 2021, 07:44   #11
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I bought a new Mercury 80hp 18 months ago, has a five year warranty but only if serviced after 100hrs or twelve months by main dealer if its not warranty is only one year, ie each time it gets serviced the warranty is extended for the next 12mths
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Old 11 August 2021, 02:04   #12
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Hi tonus I also have a 20hp Mercury efi, 1 year old

They require an initial service (different to an annual service) after 20 hours. It is noted in my service book and I think it is just oil changes and a quick check. The cost is usually around £100. My dealer agreed to include the cost of this in the sale of the engine. Regular annual services at my dealer are then 250 plus vat plus parts! This seems scandalous to me but perhaps I am missing something. There is no chance I am paying that for a lightly used engine so I'll have to take my chances with the warranty.

You might want to check to see if your warranty is still valid if you've skipped the initial service, I'm not sure how strict they are. But if you've only done 12 ish hours you would like to think you'll be okay.

But I'd check your pricing - make sure you're asking about the initial 20 hour service rather than the annual one. For £100ish it's maybe worth doing as it keeps the warranty valid for another year.
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Old 11 August 2021, 02:50   #13
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Outboard servicing for the purpose of maintaining the warranty on smaller engines is a really difficult call. Especially if you are a light recreational user who looks after your possessions. It's very simple and easy to follow work and on e you factor in the seemingly typical cost of around £200 as well as the cost of your own time and fuel to transport the engine then you're looking at paying 10-15% the purchase value of the engine each year for five years for something that Tohatso mass produce pretty well in the first instance.

As others have said, the first oil change is vital as the oil won't be dia pulpit ed but it will be full of the fine manufacturing swarf and the bore and piston material that's been ground off as the parts all settle in together. Leave that oil in and its just golden emery paper ageing your lovely engine unnecessarily. It also continues your warranty for a very low cost over that period where the single most likely issue is manufacturer error.

It's that latter element that makes the first annual service a bit of a coin toss. Whether you've worked the engine enough to throw up any issues re faulty components or general errors in manufacturing. Has enough time elapsed for any batch issues to appear that would warrant a recall etc?

Under normal global conditions I think I'd stomach the cost of the first proper service so as to roll the warranty over for 12 months and then never bother again however these are not normal times and there is a fair argument that it simply hasn't been possible to pay a fair price and for the work to be carried out in a fair time. Buying the correct, official kit and even going so far as to maybe video your own work!? may be enough to absolve you if a wholly unrelated and costly part later transpires to be faulty.

In short, self servicing absolutely 100% as the manufacturer wants is easy to do yourself and I would argue that not only does it save you a small fortune but it helps you get to know your own engine and you'll learn to look for and spot more things and care for it far more than someone on a low hourly rate who is merely doing the absolute minimum required by the manufacturer. I'd probably pay for the first at least and be 50:50 on the second just because I think the most likely warranty issues if you've looked after it are going to stem from initial errors in the build or a faulty component and these can take a little bit of time to shake out.

Not very helpful given the point that you are at but what I wouldn't do is doubt your ability to carry out the service correctly. In my experience, people who tend to ask questions before they start a job they've not done before tend to be absolutely fine as opposed to those who only start asking half way through or when they've hit an issue.
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Old 11 August 2021, 03:25   #14
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As others have said, the first oil change is vital as the oil won't be dia pulpit ed but it will be full of the fine manufacturing swarf and the bore and piston material that's been ground off as the parts all settle in together. Leave that oil in and its just golden emery paper ageing your lovely engine unnecessarily.
Except that after 12 hours there's not been enough time to collect any 'swarf' or 'emery paper' and filtration is designed fine enough to collect particulates of sufficient size that could adversely affect anything. White metal bearings are most vulnerable, but the manufacturer sets the hour requirement (20hrs?) for a reason and have decided that in the extreme there is no damage to the engine within this period. 20 hours might not be enough! Imagine an engine with 20 hours of thrash vs 20 hours of low speed and idling. Which is going to need the oil change?

There's an argument that to allow the rings to properly bed in and prevent problems like the cylinder bores glazing over, let the oil do its job and don't mambey pamby the engine until the correct amount of usage/running in has passed. Carbon particles that darken the oil are a rough guide to levels of metallic or water contaminants and after only a few hours running then all is still good and it's just a paper exercise for a warranty thats not going to be continued.
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Old 11 August 2021, 03:52   #15
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I'm inclined to agree that it is over cautious but oil colour change is typically due to chemical change, mostly heat, rather than particulate matter so isn't the best guide. Also something I don't know whether is the case with outboards but you'll often do the running in of an engine with a different grade oil that isn't appropriate for general use so I'd still change as required and personally, pay the premium to maintain the warranty initially due to the risk of component failure that would be completely unrelated but not be covered due to a legal technicality.
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Old 11 August 2021, 04:01   #16
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I'd still change as required and personally, pay the premium to maintain the warranty initially due to the risk of component failure that would be completely unrelated but not be covered due to a legal technicality.
Exactly what I did myself, not sure it was the right choice. Maybe it got me a little extra resale value, probably not as much as the cost of the services. Glad to be off the train.

Edit: If some electrical or unrelated component failed I think they'd have a hard time refusing to honour a warranty if you do your own servicing. I'd take them on via Small Claims.
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Old 11 August 2021, 04:08   #17
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Exactly what I did myself, not sure it was the right choice. Maybe it got me a little extra resale value, probably not as much as the cost of the services. Glad to be off the train.
Yup. It's a difficult call to make at this sort of size and value of outboard. You want to do the right thing and protect your £2.5-£3k purchase but if you add up the true costs of 5 years of servicing then you could be easily looking at a further spend of 50% again for work you know you can do yourself and in some ways are better doing yourself as you'll be taking more care, getting to know your own engine and actively checking other elements that aren't covered in the service. Especially if you're a modest leisure user who looks after their possessions.
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Old 11 August 2021, 05:38   #18
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Because I'm tied to the house with not much on this am out of interest I've looked into the Mercury 1st year service by downloading the manual and checking out parts prices.

At possibly £350 there is some leg lifting going on here.

The only parts to change are the engine oil/filter and gear oil. Inc seals the parts/oils should be under £50.

So what else do you get for the £300 labour?

Plugs out for a look and replace with anti-seize on threads.
Thermostat out for a look.
Visual check of anodes.
Visual check of fuel filter.
General lube pivots etc.
Pop prop off, grease splines and replace.

The last item on their schedule is an odd one... grease driveshaft splines. These will be the splines at the top of the shaft where it engages with the powerhead. There is no requirement to change or even inspect the impeller at one year and there is no way these splines would need grease at one year so it's an odd item in the schedule and I'd be amazed if any dealer would drop the gearbox just to do this.

Anyway given a dealer will be totally familiar with this motor and have all tools/items to hand I'd be amazed if they could make the whole job last over an hour... and £300/hr seems a bit steep! Even if you give them the benefit of a slow 1.5hrs it is still a staggering £200/hr.

Edit: I've just looked back re the first service on the Mariner 9.9 4-stroke I bought new in 2018. Mariner dealer in town, decent and pragmatic chap. Total cost £43-80. Labour element was 0.5hrs at £45/hr.
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Old 11 August 2021, 05:46   #19
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oil colour change is typically due to chemical change, mostly heat, rather than particulate matter so isn't the best guide.
I'd have to disagree the cause here. As a former long time user of several LPG converted vehicles, by running on this clean fuel the oil never really blackened between changes, just turned more of a golden brown. Sorry for the digression..
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Old 11 August 2021, 06:48   #20
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Interesting fenlander thanks
The dealer I bought my engine from seems to have set the pricing depending on the HP of the engine

The 20hp was £250

They always seem very busy!
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