The Boating Forum - Suzuki corrosion problems

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05-02-2003, 12:54 PM
Suzuki DF 50 4-stroke corrosion problem.

I write this with sad feelings. I have a power catamaran with two 50hp 4-stroke Suzuki’s on it. It is 4 years old and I purchased it new. I have been noticing some corrosion over the last couple years and have even clean and repainted some of the surface around the propeller hubs. Last night a friend mechanic noticed major corrosion on the engines underneath the covers. He proceeded to press with his fingers on what looked like good painted engine surface only to have it crumble with major corrosion underneath.

My anodes are in good shape and I have been closing watching them for the last few years. I even complained a few times to boat dealers about the problem and they were amazed how well the anodes looked. My mechanic friend informed me that they must be freshwater anodes and not the saltwater ones they should be. Saltwater are suppose to be zinc and freshwater a magnesium alloy. I thought he must of hit the nail on the head, but it just happens that I am the accountant for a metal inspection company and today a fellow worker tested my anodes. They are 99 some percent zinc.

A friend who is in the boating business in South Africa said that both Suzuki and Honda have a bad reputation there for corrosion. The only engine he likes is Yamaha. I really have enjoyed the performance of the Suzuki motors until this, but this shocks and angers me. The motors cost $5,000 a piece, they are in great shape internally (I have kept excellent care of them), but now they are probably going to be worthless in a couple more years.

I live in South Texas were the saltwater gets warm in the summer.

05-02-2003, 01:21 PM
I have the same motor but haven't noticed any corr
osion problems. I assume you keep the boat in the water?

05-02-2003, 01:35 PM
I have had 2 Suzuki's. 225 hp and 55 hp. Both had severe corrosion problems. Both on the head and around the upper exhaust port. My bro-in-law has a 140, major corrosion around exhaust port and on the latches for the motor cover.

05-02-2003, 01:46 PM
No, it kept out of the water.
The difference might be the temperature. I think you live in colder water. Drue is in warmer water like me. It will be interesting to see if experiences continue to be aligned with temperature location.

05-02-2003, 01:46 PM
Has your warrenty expired? Have you addressed this problem with your dealer/suzuki? I'd be interested in their response. I'm full of questions because I'm getting ready to move up to a 90 or a 115. So far nothing but a positive experience with my 50 and a 15 hp.

05-02-2003, 02:07 PM
15hp, 115hp, and now a 140hp, never had a single problem....

202 Scout Sportfisher, Suzuki 140HP, fish out of Point Judith, RI

05-02-2003, 02:09 PM
I believe my warranty has expired. Suzuki is only for 3-years. Things don’t look good. The motors actually says Evinrude on them. OMC was buying them from Suzuki. When they went bankrupt I had a hard time getting parts so I have been going to the Suzuki dealer ever since. I don’t know whom to contact. Suzuki or Bombardier? Warranty expired and no one has direct responsibility!

I too have had nothing, but praise for the motors until this. There is real concern now, because it doesn’t matter how good their fuel injection, chain driven camshaft, etc. is if the motor is going to self-destruct through corrosion.

The only problem I ever previously had was the hose clamps were made out of mild steel. Ever year I would replace the most rusted ones. It wasn’t a big deal to me, but now it looks like its part of a major anti-corrosion problem.

My mechanic friend said to remove all the paint and corrosion and spray them with sticky oil like Corrosion Block or LP3. He said it would look like shit, but it’s the best way to slow down the corrosion. Great, I was planning on selling the boat with the a year. Who is going to want motors that look like shit?

If I were in your area I would find some owners who have owned their motors for four plus years and see if they have corrosion. If so, and you plan on keeping your new motors for some years, don’t buy Suzuki.

05-02-2003, 02:42 PM
My 2000 Evinrude 15 made by Suzuki shows areas on lower unit where the paint is bubbling. At first I thought they painted over a greasy area, now I realize its not the case. I too feel angry since this engine will cost me $3 grand with tax, and interest. These manufacturers better get this stuff right or a bad reputation will spread through the internet and sales will plumet!


05-05-2003, 07:59 AM
Suzuki Warranty -

It makes no difference if you have a warranty or not. Suzuki will not cover corrosion. I had a pair of 2000 225's and had the same problem. Corrosion and paint coming off around the prop hub area. Suzuki gave me the finger and sent me on my way... I will never own another Suzuki product.

05-05-2003, 08:57 AM
The two brands you mention don't have a particularly illustrious reputation for corrosion downunder either.

One of the two brands you mention was given a 'nickname' downunder of "disprin" (a dissolving asprin medication....where the TV advert showed how the tablets completely dissolved once you add water in only a few seconds) among boaters.

The suggestion being - the OB engines basically dissolved in front of your eyes as soon as you add water!

There can be a host of reasons from poor quality alloy used in the manufacture of the engines themselves, to any number of other causes like stray current when penned or poor paint protection of the original parts etc.

Most serious boaters downunder (read commercial fishers) tend to go for the longer well known US Merc brand or lately Yama as well - allthough I'd have to say that LESS of them favour yam to the merc.

These days with engine swaping among the manufacturers - who knows what your getting?.

Something to think about with alloy boats as well as motors, is that the alluminium oxide that forms, is actually supposed to protect the alloy from further corrosion.

The marine grades of alloy do this better than some of the other household grades, but basically the principal is the same to some degree - the oxide formed should protect from further oxidisation to varying degrees.

Trouble is - you can get something else than corrosion (electrolysis) of alloy in a saltwater evironment, you can also get galvanic corrosion....the symptoms of which are that the alloy gets eaten away typicaly under the paint - and forms white powdery bubbles under the paint.

Sounds to me like thats what you got on your OB engine.

You could always do a little google search on alluminium corrosion and galvanic corrosion of alluminium in marine environment and see what you come up with.

Good luck, it's a big subject.


05-06-2003, 08:39 PM
Ok .. this may sound odd but ... the points where the corrosion hit sounds like it is above the waterline;

"He proceeded to press with his fingers on what looked like good painted engine surface only to have it crumble with major corrosion underneath"

If that is the case, the zincs wont help a lick here. The engine is being eaten alive when you are at work and the boat is sitting on its trailor. I have seen this type of issue in a couple of inboards and three or four outboards. Salt water is getting onto the surfaces and eating away the system.

Trouty was correct ... this may be an issue with the quality of the mettel used during construction of your power plant. So what do you do now? -> Clean, clean like a church maid on saterday night!

On of the inboards I saw was in really poor shape, we found that a little salt water got into the below deck compartment and left salt deposits on the engine ... then latter when we got ready to got out againt (two or three weeks latter) the engine had a glaze of mostire over it). Come to find out that the salt would attract mosture to the engine and it would sit and "ROOT" continusly! Now, every time we get in, when he gets home give the 350 a good soap water bath after he parks it in the drive way ... The corrisoion is still there ... but is MUCH slower now.

Hope this helps you.

05-06-2003, 10:46 PM
the best protections - is to totally disconnect the battery leads when you get home.

Lots of folks leave the "run switch" (lanyard cutout) ON and the battery connected and many don't have a battery isolator switch so effectively the OB always has live current running around. This will sometimes help the galvanic process for the white powder formation under the paint, especially in humid conditions.

Isolating current at the battery can't hurt.

Good luck - sounds like it's a bit late now, hope you get to the cause of the problem.


05-07-2003, 10:47 AM
Thanks for the advice guys. I am already doing a search. Trouty, I am sorry to say that I was one of the those people who always left their batteries connected. I have wondering if this was the culprit. My neighbor is an engineer for the Navy and last year he was helping me with some electrical problems when he found a large current being drawn from the motors. I don’t remember what the current reading was, but he said it was more than he would have expected.

Also I didn’t know Merc had a good name for corrosion protection. I guess I never heard anything bad about their corrosion protect, but I have heard that they break a lot and require a lot repair work. I have also heard the dealers usually have good mechanics because they get a lot of hands on experience.

PS The Suzuki dealer said to do the same thing as my mechanic friend. That is, scrap all the paint and corrosion off and spray with LP3 or something similar. He went a bit further and said it should stop the corrosion from continuing. I am going to do that and disconnect the batteries.

05-07-2003, 12:50 PM
Fighting Corrosion
Comprehensive Construction
This system starts with the construction of the engines. Suzuki outboard engines are cast from extra-strong, high grade aluminum alloys.

Next comes a multi-step surface treatment, beginning with a thorough cleaning of the aluminum alloy castings in a special chemical bath that removes any impurities or contaminants that might interfere with the adhesion of the surface coatings.

Once cleaned, the engine castings are submerged in an electrified bath of CrO2 (chromium oxide), or Alodine. This process alters the chemical composition of the surface, creating an invisible barrier that becomes an integral part of the casting to seal out corrosion.

The engines then receive an extremely hard and resilient baked-on epoxy resin primer engineered especially for marine applications. The epoxy primer completely covers all surfaces.

Once fully primered, the engine is given a final coat of a specialized Melamine resin marine grade paint. The Melamine paint cures to a tough yet lustrous finish to completely seal the engine castings from the saltwater environment. The result is an engine that is effectively triple-sealed against saltwater.

The Little Things Mean a Lot
This comprehensive surface treatment is only part of Suzuki’s anti-corrosion system. Along with these procedures, several special sacrificial zinc anodes are strategically placed both externally and within the cooling water passages. These replaceable zinc anodes take on the brunt of saltwater’s corrosive action, sacrificing themselves over time to preserve the overall integrity of the engine.

To help the zinc anodes work most effectively, Suzuki incorporates several special external and internal bonding wires on all models (except the 5 and 6 hp models), uniting all major engine parts. This seemingly simple but important step ensures that any corrosive action is directed away from metal engine components and toward the anodes.

Finishing Touches
Another key element in Suzuki’s anti-corrosion system is specialized marine-grade stainless steel, used for propellers, propeller shafts, driveshafts, shift rods and more. Stainless steel is also used for bolts, nuts and washers exposed to saltwater.

To further prevent galvanic corrosion, key bolts, nuts and washers are also coated with chrome plating or Dacromate, a specialized corrosion-fighting marine primer, to create a barrier between dissimilar metals. Cylinder head bolts and exhaust cover bolts are chrome-plated for added durability. Finally, exposed portions of primered stainless steel and tempered steel bolts, nuts and washers are sealed with a final coat of Melamine resin paint.

As part of the Suzuki advanced anti-corrosion system, the water pump housings on all prop-driven Suzuki outboards are also durable, corrosion-resistant stainless steel. This feature ensures that corrosion does not form within the water pump—and thus will not interfere with the all-important cooling function of the engine.

In addition to all of these corrosion fighting features, the one-piece engine hood and baffled air induction systems on Suzuki outboard engines effectively seal the powerhead from saltwater.

This advanced anti-corrosion system has earned Suzuki engines an enviable reputation for reliability, durability and corrosion resistance from coast to coast—especially where corrosion is worst.

05-07-2003, 08:34 PM
There is one problem I have seen especially with catboats. Some catboats cause an unsually lot of mist to fly around the motors, I guess because of the motors mounted far apart and the 2 hulls going through the water. I have seen unusual amounts of salt build up on the inside of the cowls, not only on Suzukis but other brands of motors, especially OMC. I think it has to do with the air induction systems on the various brands. I saw this happen a lot to my neighbors Glacier Bay 26 C/C. He had to rinse off the inside of his Evinrudes after every trip. Some salt mist gets inside of all I'm sure at some time. Seems like I heard of some powerhead failures from so much water being introduced into the air intake. Just my thoughts and experiences.

05-07-2003, 08:58 PM
That Suzuki write-up sures sounds impressive, but apparently the saltwater isn't as impressed as the copywriters were. Perhaps "high grade" alloy isn't quite the same thing as proper alloy.

Unfortunately, stopping corrosion like this, once it has started, is next to impossible. The advice to hose off what you can, so you don't have a salty hydroscopic surface, and to keep it painted or coated with something (almost anything except copper based bottom paint), is probably about the best you'll do.

05-08-2003, 10:17 AM
quote:That Suzuki write-up sures sounds impressive, but apparently the saltwater isn't as impressed as the copywriters were.

Parrott, I think you have a good point. I have a cat with the two motors mounted on the stern. Since my 50’s only have 20” shafts they are close to the water and they do get a lot of spray on them. The boat manufacture installed extra aluminum plate on the foils. I took them off once to see if they were really needed. They were, because without them the starboard motor threw water all over the port one.

I noticed the new Glacier Bays wrap around the engines on all three available sides, almost completely protecting them from any spray.

I don’t want to bad mouth Suzuki. I think mechanically they are second to none and I am starting to think with the correct maintenance their corrosion resistance maybe all right. If I had to do it over again I would put a sealing oil spray, like LP3 all over the motors before I ever used them, disconnect the batteries when not in use, and periodically remove the cowls and rinse them off.

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