Problems with DI, EFI engines decline

MIAMI, Fla. — The average number of problems has steadily declined for both Direct Injection and Electronic Fuel Injection outboard engines since 2005, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Marine Engine Competitive Information Study released Thursday.

In 2009, DI engines averaged 73 problems per 100 engines compared with 87 problems per 100 in 2005. EFI outboards saw an even greater improvement, with 51 problems per 100 in 2009 compared with 73 problems per 100 in 2005.

“In terms of satisfaction, it is a dead heat between two-stroke DI and four-stroke EFI outboard engines,” said Todd Markusic, senior director of the powersports practice at J.D. Power, in a release. “However, from a quality standpoint, EFIs clearly have fewer reported problems. In general, owners of EFI outboards tend to have fewer issues with the engine running rough or hesitating, unusual engine noises and fuel system leaks than do owners of DI engines.”

In addition to measuring engine quality, the study, now in its eighth year, measured overall customer satisfaction with four marine engine types: outboard DI two-stroke, outboard EFI four-stroke, sterndrive EFI and inboard EFI. Overall customer satisfaction index scores were based on performance across seven factors: starting ease, quietness at cruise, reliability, fuel economy, shifting smoothness, lack of exhaust fumes and ability of boat to accelerate rapidly.

The study was based on responses from 9,790 owners who registered a new boat between June 2007 and May 2008. Eleven brands of outboard, sterndrive and gas inboard marine engines were included in the study.

Evinrude ranked highest in the two-stroke DI outboard segment. Notable gains occurred for both reliability and starting ease year over year, but challenges still exist for outboard DI two-stroke manufacturers, according to the report.

“While issues with the engine transmission sound and feel when shifting are the most frequently reported problems for DI engines, engine hesitation during acceleration and the engine running roughly have the most significant negative impacts on customers’ satisfaction with their engines,” said Markusic in a release.

Honda ranked highest among outboard EFI four-stroke engine manufacturers. Yamaha and Suzuki ranked second and third in the segment.

Volvo Penta ranked highest in the sterndrive EFI segment for a second consecutive year. Satisfaction increased considerably in the EFI sterndrive segment in all seven factors, with the most significant improvements occurring in the areas of lack of exhaust fumes and ability of boat to accelerate rapidly, according to the report.

Pleasurecraft Engine Group ranked highest in the inboard EFI four-stroke engine segment for a fourth consecutive year. More than 70 percent of inboard EFI engine owners indicate that their new engine is problem free, according to the report, which is the highest percentage across all four segments examined in the study.

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