Honda 50 Outboard Problems? 5 Most-Common Issues

Honda Marine is an American company that builds a full line of four-stroke outboard marine engines ranging from 2 – 250hp at their factory in Japan.

They were one of the first US companies to build a four-stroke marine outboard engine introduced to the market back in 1964. Many of the Honda outboard engine design concepts and technologies are taken from their automotive engines used in popular vehicles, which is why they are so reliable.

However, just like any other brand of outboard engine, the Honda 50 can have its issues.

5 Common Honda 50 Outboard Problems:

Most of these problems can be put down to poor maintenance, but some are more serious and need to be diagnosed by an expert.

Some of the more common problems are as follows (in no particular order):

1. Corrosion On The Lower Unit

The lower unit (LU) on an outboard engine is the bottom part that houses the propellor shaft and the gear casing. This is the part of an outboard engine that spends the most time in the water.

The main corrosion problem seems to be that the bearing carrier nut on the lower unit is threaded directly into, the lower unit housing. This nut ends up corroding and ends up splitting from the lower unit housing.

This does seem to be a bit of a design fault on most Honda outboard engines. In addition, checking this bearing carrier nut was not included in the annual maintenance schedule, which helped many owners find the problem before the lower unit failed.

Taking care of your lower unit is very important for ensuring your outboard runs smoothly and has a long life. You can do this by flushing the unit with fresh water after every use and changing the lower unit oil after every 100 hours.

2. Overheating Alarm Goes Off And Triggers Limp Mode

A common problem on the Honda 50 outboards is that the overheating alarm goes off, which causes the engine to go into ‘limp’ mode.

The limp mode is a protective measure that automatically cuts down the engine’s power to limit any possible damage but enables you to limp slowly home.

The causes of this overheating alarm going off can be one of many reasons. These include that the alarm may be faulty itself.

Other things to look out for are blocked water intakes for the cooling system. The water temperature sensor or thermostat could also be faulty or need to be cleaned of any build-up of any dirt.

To keep your cooling system in tip-top condition, always flush the engine with fresh water after each use.

Flushing your cooling system with fresh water will prevent a build-up of dirt from pollution or salt that, if not removed, can clog or corrode the water pipes, various sensors, and the thermostat within the cooling system.

3. Faulty Electric Starter Or Ignition Switch

When an outboard electric starter or ignition switch fails, it will turn the engine over very slowly, not at all, or you may hear a clicking sound.

The engine can also spin extremely fast but not engage, or turn the engine’s flywheel and still not engage.

While this can be a problem for any brand of outboard engine, a common cause of the Honda engine not starting can be a faulty fuse. A 15-ampere fuse protects the electric starter or ignition switch. If this fuse fails or burns out, your engine will not start or run, and the power trim/tilt switch will not operate.

This problem can be easily remedied by changing the fuse yourself. However, if changing the fuse does not solve the problem, there may be a more serious issue that your local Honda dealer can diagnose.

In addition, just changing the fuse may not remedy the actual cause of the problem. A burnt-out fuse is a symptom of an underlying electrical problem that may cause the fuse to burn out again if it isn’t solved.

4. Carburetor Tends To Block Easily

The carburetor on an outboard engine is an important component as it mixes the correct amount of fuel with air for combustion.

A well-maintained carburetor will give you many hours of easy engine use – the engine will start quickly, accelerate well and idle smoothly. A clean working carburetor will also ensure proper fuel economy and clean emissions for years.

However, a dirty carburetor may be the cause of many problems with your engine, such as it being not easy to start, rough idling, engine stalling or flooding, and an increase in fuel consumption.

A common problem with the Honda 50 outboard engines is that the jets inside the carburetor are quite small and fiddly and tend to get blocked easily, especially if you have old gasolene or accidentally buy bad fuel. This is a design problem with older Honda models.

The good news is that the carbs can easily be cleaned and reset by most home mechanics. If this fails to remedy the problem, it’s best to consult with your local Honda Marine dealer.

5. Honda Lagging Behind With Innovation

For a leading manufacturer of outboard engines, many owners believe that Honda is lagging behind its competitors for innovation and new products.

For example, the design fault that causes the corrosion of the bearing nut in the lower unit (or LU) has still not been addressed.

In addition, most outboard engines in the Honda range still use carburetors instead of upgrading to fuel injector systems. As someone mentioned in the forums, this is hardly what you expect from a supposed leader in engineering and design.

General Pros and Cons Of Honda 50 Outboard Engines:

Honda Marine is considered one of the leaders and one of the longest-running manufacturers of outboard engines.

Here are some of the top pros and cons we have found on the various boating forums:

The Pros:

Most Honda outboard owners have only good things to say about their motors and even consider them to be ‘bulletproof.’

In addition, the Honda 50 outboard motor is one of the lightest 50hp, 4-stroke engines available on the market. Plus, the new functional design of the center-mounted tiller handle provides easier operation and improved handling.

Honda is known for its superior quality, reliability, technology, and fuel efficiency within the automobile industry, and they have passed this technology onto their Honda Marine outboard engines.

The range of Honda 4-stroke engines run quieter, offer greater fuel efficiency, and burn cleaner than many competitors. With Honda, most owners will say that they’re getting a better 4-stroke experience than anyone else on the water.

In addition, Honda Marine offers one of the best warranties in the outboard motor industry with their ‘True 5 Year Limited Warranty.’

A new Honda Marine outboard engine that has been purchased for recreational use from an authorized Honda Marine dealer will be covered against any faults in the materials or workmanship for up to five years from the date of purchase.

This 5-year warranty is fully transferrable to a second owner at no extra cost.

The Cons:

  • Corrosion on the lower unit or LU
  • Overheating alarm goes off and triggers the engine to go into limp mode
  • Faulty electric starter or ignition switches
  • Carburetor tends to block easily
  • Honda Marine lags behind with innovation compared to its competitors

Final Thoughts

The Honda 50hp outboard motors combine Honda’s legendary four-stroke engineering and some of their latest outboard design innovations resulting in one of the lightest, most compact engines in their class.

Many Honda owners have had many hours of trouble-free motoring on the water despite the problems listed above. So, if you are looking to purchase a new or second-hand outboard motor, there are many good reasons to consider purchasing a Honda.


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