Hype, Hoopla, & Reality:
What's Up with E-TEC?
After a number of months of reviewing Internet threads, infomercials, and magazine articles, and folding in our own experiences with Evinrude's E-TEC technology, we take a stab at presenting a balanced view of the product, and make some recommendations to potential buyers.
We predict that the fate of E-TECs will be determined by service-related issues, not performance. Reliability and engine life, ease of service and customer service, and cost of operation will all figure in.
As we have seen in prevous sections of this article, E-TEC performance is right on par with 4-stroke and other DFI 2-stroke engines. But in our opinion, E-TECs are not so strong that they clearly stand out from the crowd.
In this section we review and offer comments on what we've found on E-TEC reliability, service issues, customer service, and cost of operations. We've sifted through a number of reports on the Internet, and tried to glean out the relevant data.
We won't spend a lot of time talking about the theoretical reasons why (or why not) E-TEC technology is reliable. Since the initial motors have been on consumers' boats for close to 3 years now, there are a number of people who
have put a lot of hours on their motors. We should be able to get a good sense of the motor's propensity for trouble from that.
Click on the links below to review our summaries of:
Whew! That was a lot of stuff to cover. Now that it's over, let's try to answer the question:
Should you buy an E-TEC?
As always, "It depends".
If you don't have a certified E-TEC mechanic within a reasonable distance, and / or you don't have a place to get spare parts, don't buy an E-TEC. It's not worth the hassle, no matter how much you want an E-TEC.
If you are really, really concerned about long-term longevity of the motor, don't buy an E-TEC now. Why? Because there is simply no long-term data on E-TECs. The first engines (90 HPs and smaller) are only now approaching their 3-year birthdays, and the big motors (200 and larger) are only about 18 months old.
There are a lot of people pulling a bunch of hours on E-TECs who have not experienced any problems. This is a VERY strong indicator that the engines will perform as advertised over the long haul.
It was sufficient evidence to convince us to buy one...but if you're really, really risk adverse, save yourself some mental anguish and buy something else.
Otherwise...you should seriously consider the E-TECs. This is especially true if:
BRP seems to be providing excellent customer service on the E-TECs, and stands behind their warranty. They have an excellent track record on their other products, and have the financial staying power that OMC lacked.
In our situation, we think the E-TEC 90 was the best balance of power, weight, fuel economy, service and installation costs for our situation. We've been very happy with the motor, once we got past our fuel/water problems.
We hope this article has helped you sort through the hype and irrational comments that surround Evinrude's E-TEC engines.
From our viewpoint, they are a robust engine, with performance on par with any 4-stroke or 2-stroke (a little better in some areas, not quite as good in others). The issues that traditionally dogged 2-stroke motors are now passe'.
The only questions that still remain to be answered are the ones related to long term durability, but there is a lot of evidence that that they will perform as advertised.
We expect total cost of operation to be comparable to, or better than a 4-stroke if a total cost picture is used (including not just the cost of oil, but also recommended dealer service).
We're sure all of the motor manufacturers are preparing a response of some sort to the E-TECs, whether it be improved mileage, reduced weight, or modified service schedules. Who knows? You may discover that the new motors are even better than the E-TEC. Of course, we dont think BRP is resting on its laurels, either.
Only time will tell, and in the end, the consumer is the one that benefits the most.
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