Are Force Outboard Motors Any Good? (Explained)

Force Outboards were a brand of motor that grew directly out of the Chrysler Outboard brand.

They began in 1983 with the acquisition of Chrysler Outboards by Bayliner, and the brand was discontinued in 1999.

Here’s How Good Force Outboard Motors are:

Force Outboards were simple engines made for ease of operation and repair. They were very good until the 1990s, when newer fuels were introduced. As problems with the brand became widespread, sales deteriorated, and when the engines remained unchanged, the company had to end production in 1999.

A Brief History Of Force Outboard Motors

In the early 1980s, Chrysler Corporation was forced to sell off their non-core businesses to receive bailout funds from the United States government.

Though the outboard division of Chrysler had been profitable, it was bought in 1983 by US Marine, part of the Bayliner brand. The name was changed to Force Outboards.

The early models were essentially the same as the last models of Chrysler Outboards.

In 1986, Force and its parent company of Bayliner were acquired by the Brunswick Corporation. Brunswick also owned the Mercury Outboard motor brand.

Force engines were popular, like Chrysler was before, because of their simple designs and low cost. However, the modern fuels of the 1990s gave these engine designs problems, and word began to spread of engine failures in Force Outboard motors.

In addition, new environmental regulations went into effect that changed the acceptable level of emissions from outboards.

With all of these changing factors affecting Force, sales fell off rapidly.

Mercury motors were redesigned to meet the newer fuels and standards, but curiously Force Outboards did not receive any of these improvements that they needed to function properly. 

Because of this refusal to upgrade the Force designs, sales completely fell off, and in 1999 the Force brand was discontinued.

How Durable Are Force Outboard Motors?

Originally, Force Outboards were very durable.

The Chrysler Outboards had been designed to be simple, allowing for ease of repair and acquiring replacement parts.

This philosophy continued through the introduction of newer fuels in the early 1990s, when the problems with Force’s designs began.

Modern gasoline has an inherent instability compared to gas before 1990. These low-lead fuels break down quicker in storage, particularly when mixed with oil. They are susceptible to evaporation and separation.

The specific problem here is the design of the combustion chambers and the ridged pistons that Chrysler and later Force employed. The detonations in these cross-scavenged combustion chambers were uneven in this design, leading to piston damage and thermal runway cylinder damage.

All other engine manufacturers, including Mercury motors made in the same plant, went to loop scavenged combustion chambers and flat-topped pistons, which were necessary for proper detonation.

Force Outboards, for whatever reason, did not change their designs of pistons or detonation chambers, which caused damage from the newer, unstable fuels. This failure to upgrade to newer fuels is one of the primary reasons that Force had to close their doors.

In addition, new environmental regulations were passed that mandated cleaner operation from all motors, which affected the outboard market in particular, as emissions went right into the water. Force did not change to meet these new regulations.

It must be pointed out how odd it is that the engineers responsible for both Mercury and Force only updated the designs of Mercury outboards, letting Force continue on an unsustainable path, both functionally and environmentally.

A Solid Design:

Before the advent of newer fuels, the Force Outboard motor was a solid and durable design, carried over from the Chrysler designs and construction.

It had been made as simple as possible to allow for ease of repair and fewer parts to break down in the first place.

Because of the simple design with fewer moving parts than other brands, it was more affordable to a casual boater. This made it popular in the outboard market.

Opinions online concerning Force are mixed. This can be misleading, owing to how negative some commenters on forums can be, but it can also be instructive. Many threads can be found concerning specific models and problems.

Most people point out how cheap they were but also how easy it was to keep them running.

For an example of both, one forum commenter said in 2006:

“It seems to me the best one they had was the 4 cylinder 125/120. They were crappy but you could keep it running forever if you knew how. They would scuff up pretty easily or freeze or break a ring if you put inferior oil in them. The common mistake was to but the cheapest S__T oil you could find because it was the cheapest motor you could buy.”

[Source: The Hull Truth]

With the company being gone, that seems to encourage many commenters to pile on. Still, there are many useful threads available for people trying to evaluate the truth of Force Outboards.

How Long Do Force Outboard Engines Typically Last?

Force outboards tend to last if properly maintained.

For the first decade or so of Force’s existence, they were reliable engines, but with the arrival of the newer, more unstable gasoline, that changed. Combustion chambers began gumming up, rings cracked, and pistons began jamming. When the outboards were repaired, if they were not beyond repair, these problems continued to happen.

Because of these problems, most Force Outboards were on the scrap heap by the turn of the century. Most owners did not understand what was happening with their outboards or were unable or unwilling to continue making them work.

That being said, some people have maintained or rebuilt Force Outboards, and these motors are still going today.

As several sites helpfully point out, you must use brand new gas in a Force outboard. If it has been sitting in a tank for two weeks, it will damage the engine if used.

This is because of how quickly modern gasoline breaks down, evaporating and separating. The addition of oil enhances this process.

So while there are a few people still using old Force Outboards, they run them only with fresh fuel. They also clean these motors regularly to prevent deposits from building up.

Can You Find Replacement Parts?

It is also noteworthy to point out that some Force replacement parts are still being made today.

The Mercury Motors company is manufacturing these from the original designs. They still make some parts for old Chrysler outboards, too.

There is speculation as to why the company still makes parts after the brand has been discontinued for over two decades. Most of this speculation centers on the belief that these parts are the same as some Mercury parts and are rebranded as Force or Chrysler.

There are also companies online that not only sell replacement parts but significant items like rebuilt powerheads. So there does seem to be a small market for repairing Force Outboards even now.

Has Force Made Any Recalls?

According to the United States Coast Guard database, no recalls have ever been issued on Force Outboards.

Further searching online reveals no recalls were issued for or by Force.

What Are the Most Popular Force Outboards?

Sales data for Force Outboards is not available online, so it is impossible to determine what the most popular Force engines were based on sales.

But even today, there is an abundance of online commentary on Force Outboards, so we can determine what some of the more popular models were this way.

The 120 horsepower model comes up on forums often, with people asking how to repair it or whether they should buy a cheap used one. While one of the larger outboards that Force produced, it was lighter than comparable models in the same horsepower. This was probably due to the simpler design and fewer parts.

The 90 horsepower model comes up a bit in forums, too. People who own one have remarked that it is easier to keep this model going today than some other Force outboards.

Some online commenters mention the 50 horsepower. It seems that this was a popular model from a sales perspective, as some owners mention other people owning the same model.

Where Are Outboard Force Engines Manufactured?

Force Outboards were initially manufactured in the same plant as the previous incarnation Chrysler Outboards was made in Hartford, Wisconsin.

After a labor dispute in which the company lost to the workers, the parent Brunswick Corporation shut down that facility, as they had threatened to do during negotiations and then in legal wrangling.

After that plant was shuttered, the production of Force Outboards was moved to the Mercury Marine plant in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin. Very few of the original workers were rehired, so the production force was all new.

Production remained at this plant even as sales tapered off due to problems with newer fuels. The last Force Outboards were made in 1999, though it seems the decision to close the brand down may have been made in 1996.

How Is the Warranty On Force Outboards?

When still in production, the warranty on Force Outboards was the industry standard at the time.

This means it was a two-year warranty, and it was one year if the outboard was used commercially.

Which Brands Produce Engines Similar to Force?

Evinrude was initially the primary competition of Force Outboards.

They offered a similar lineup of engines at similar prices, though Force was a little cheaper on average.

In the 1990s, Yamaha and Nissan were the primary competition. They had more modern designs than the Force Outboards, and they were being built for the newer fuels and environmental regulations. 

These two companies’ motors proved to be very reliable, particularly in comparison to Force Outboards, which were constantly breaking down at this point.

Final Thoughts

You will generally find online commenters divided into two camps on the longevity of Force motors.

Those who say they are trash, and those who point out their simplicity and reliability if you maintain them.

They are rare nowadays, and making them work requires some understanding of their failure and the willingness to work on and maintain them.

Sources:

Chrysler/Force Outboards – Everythingaboutboats.com

FORCE Outboards – thehulltruth.com

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