Purser Club Sail more, spend less

Choosing a 4HP outboard

A comparison of 4HP outboard engines for your small sailboat or tender

Lac St-Louis, September 2010
Lac St-Louis, September 2010

The latest models of the 4HP outboards are flexible, low-cost, and capable.

A 4HP is a good way to comfortably push a 1500 lb displacement hull to speed. They’re also a practical, inexpensive way to shuttle your tender to and from shore. But for a planing hull, a 4HP doesn’t have the guts. Likewise, if you need to travel greater distances, consider getting something bigger.

If you’re looking for something smaller, consider a 2.5HP outboard.

Compared to 2.5HP

The 4HP outboards can’t beat their 2.5HP siblings on price and weight. I can’t carry a 4HP with one hand. Hell, I can barely carry a 4HP with two hands without breaking a sweat. But for the extra cost and weight of a 4HP, you get more features:

Compared to 5HP and 6HP

The funny thing about the 4HP outboards are their “bigger” siblings, the 5HP and 6HP models.

For all manufacturers, the 4HP model is a detuned 5HP or 6HP outboard. Except for power output, they are identical, with the same transmission, engine displacement, weight, and fuel capacities.

In other words, the only practical advantage the 4HP has is its lower price. If you’d rather have more power with no weight gain, spend the extra cash for the 5HP or 6HP model. They are the same engine otherwise.

Choosing a winner

I’ve ranked this class of outboard according to their manufacturers’ specs.

For 4HP, there’s barely a clear winner. They are all pretty competitive on features, advantages, and drawbacks. As always, pick the best outboard for you.

The winner

Yamaha F4

Yamaha F4

Shaft length (inches): 15, 20

Weight (lbs/kg): 15 inch: 59/27, 20 inch: 61/28

Internal fuel capacity (US gal/litres): 0.3/1.1

Transmission: forward, neutral, reverse

Starting: manual pull

Alternator: 12V 5A (optional)

Carrying handles: front and rear

Warranty (years): 3

I award the 4HP championship to Yamaha. It has the best mix of features inlcuding decent internal fuel capacity, storage on 3 sides without leaking oil or fuel, and front and rear handles.

Close 2nd

Suzuki DF4A

Suzuki DF4A

Shaft length (inches): 15

Weight (lbs/kg): 52/23.5

Internal fuel capacity (US gal/litres): 0.26/1

Transmission: forward, neutral, reverse

Starting: manual pull

Alternator: 12V 5A (optional)

Carrying handles: front and rear

Warranty (years): 3

The Suzuki 4HP beats everyone else on weight at 52 lbs. It’s available only in 15 inches. For 20 inches, see the Suzuki 6HP. Like Yamaha, it allows storage on 3 of its 4 sides. Unique to Suzuki are 3 locking positions when tilting it up and a choice of colors, black or white.

Close 2nd

Honda BF4

Honda BF4

Shaft length (inches): 15, 20

Weight (lbs/kg): 15 inch: 59.5/27, 20 inch: 60.6/27.5

Internal fuel capacity (US gal/litres): 0.39/1.5

Transmission: forward, neutral, reverse

Starting: manual pull

Alternator: 12V 6A (optional)

Carrying handles: front

Warranty (years): 5

The Honda has the highest internal fuel capacity, the highest alternator output, and a 5 year warranty.

Close 3rd

Tohatsu MFS4

Tohatsu MFS4

Shaft length (inches): 15, 20

Weight (lbs/kg): 15 inch: 57/26, 20 inch: 59/27

Internal fuel capacity (US gal/litres): 0.34/1.3

Transmission: forward, neutral, reverse

Starting: manual pull

Alternator: 12V 5A (optional)

Carrying handles: front

Warranty (years): 5

The Tohatsu has a longer warranty and a shifter at the front of the engine instead of its side. The 4HP has an internal fuel tank, which is absent on the Tohatsu 5HP.

Tohatsu also offers a 3.5HP. It has the same specs as the Tohatsu 2.5HP models. The 3.5HP is lighter and less expensive, but it doesn’t have an external tank connection and has no options for an alternator or propellor choice.

Close 3rd

Mercury 4HP

Mercury 4HP

Shaft length (inches): 15, 20

Weight (lbs/kg): 15 inch: 57/26, 20 inch: 59/27

Internal fuel capacity (US gal/litres): 0.3/1.1

Transmission: forward, neutral, reverse

Starting: manual pull

Alternator: no

Carrying handles: front

Warranty (years): 3

The Mercury is the only 4HP outboard without an alternator option.

Like Tohatsu, Mercury also offers a 3.5HP. But this outboard shares the base with the Mercury 2.5HP model. The 3.5HP is lighter and less expensive than the 4HP, but it doesn’t have an external tank connection and has no options for an alternator or propellor choice.

Related articles

Choosing a 2.5HP outboard


A comparison of the smallest outboard engines for your small sailboat or tender

Choosing a 5/6HP outboard


A comparison of 5HP and 6HP outboard engines for your small sailboat or tender

At your service

Humbly yours,

Marc
Supreme Purser