I mentioned last month that my big outboard engine, a 2011 Mercury 250HP Pro XS, had suddenly gone down during a fishing trip to San Luis. I hoped that it wasn’t anything serious, but turns out I was in for an education!
I initially dropped off the boat at my longtime repair shop, Ed’s Marine, for Bill Manuszak (my go-to mechanic) to diagnose. Bill had solved many past problems and when he called to tell me I still had an extended warranty on the engine, I thought I was home free. That was until the call a day later!
Bill explained that he had found some pretty serious problems and that my Gold extended was different from the original Platinum factory warranty. There might not be any coverage depending what occurred. New ballgame!
As a regular angler and a guide, I rely on my equipment. When it goes down, it costs money, time and reputation. That’s the reason I’ve built up a proactive system over the years to minimize breakdowns. It helped saved me.
A day later, I got another call and Bill outlined what he suspected happened. He talked to Mercury and now they were sending a rep to determine if Bill was correct. Was this problem covered? Everything was on the table.
While trying to remain patient, Bill called again several days later … any good news? “Well, the rep inspected the parts and it was a fairly big failure, where one thing affects another and it snowballs, but after a lot of discussion and inspecting everything we were able to get them to cover most everything!” Bill said. Whew! But there was more to the story.
The inspection was more than I imagined, starting with a sample of the gas. Gas that sits for a couple of weeks can go through “phase separation,” causing it to go bad – this especially affecting 2-stroke motors. Very good reason to use a gas stabilizer! But it passed the test.
Next they checked the computer to see what my running hours were at what RPM. If the top-end RPM are above or below the designated operating RPM band, it means that something, like prop size, is not set up properly. In addition they checked for “code” or “fault” history, where the engine might have been overrevved for example. Was this a habit that contributed, or was it just random ?
They also checked to see I used the right outboard oil as well as any injector cleaners in the gas. Since I only buy both from Bill, he was able to prove I did – while also providing all the maintenance records!
I did some things right, it seemed. First I had used the same reputable mechanic for years, one I trusted and that had a solid reputation with my engine company. When the chips are down, you like to know you can depend on your guy to advocate for you and do so with credibility.
Second, I’ve done all maintenance on time and used the best additives. Third, I only get top-rated gas from the same stations. And fourth, Bill had told me Merc was good to work with way back when.
My other lesson: There is a big difference between factory and extended warranties and you need to carefully check what is covered. It turned out that Mercury was not obligated to do anything but fix the compressor, but after looking at everything, including our due diligence, they decided to step up and take care of me with more than $10,000 in parts! Basically a new engine! They’ve re-earned my loyalty!
Yes, the warranty counts, but how your engine company treats you is the real bottom line. My thanks to Bill for going to war for me – and for getting me back fishing, too! Never give up!