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Old 12-01-2020, 08:26   #1
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Mercury or Tohatsu outboard motor?

I need a new outboard for my dinghy in the +/- 9 hp range. I'm in the Caribbean and will buy a 2 stroke because of the lower weight; it will be a lot easier for my wife to help with the hoisting from dinghy to aft rail mount, and safer for me while in the dinghy when she is handling the motor over my head.

Right now I can immediately get an 8 hp Mercury or 9.8 hp Tohatsu. Either will do the job just fine, and they weigh the same. The Mercury is slightly cheaper but not enough to make a difference.

So my question is about quality, reliability, serviceability, etc. While I'm in the Caribbean now I'll be heading back home to the US in May and will have this motor there for many years I suspect. It's very common to see Mercurys at home, not so many Tohatsus. That makes me more comfortable about the Mercury brand, but I don't know enough about Tohatsus to be fair.

Grateful for advice.

Thanks,

JR
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Old 12-01-2020, 08:31   #2
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Re: Mercury or Tohatsu outboard motor?

I think the 2 are almost the same with Tohastsu making the Mercury and the the 9.8 is a supped up 8 hp, which is why it weighs the same.
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Old 12-01-2020, 09:02   #3
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Re: Mercury or Tohatsu outboard motor?

I had a Tohatsu 6hp for a while. It ran great and I had little trouble with it. I looked at the parts manuals for it and the Mercury and they were the same down to the part numbers except for the brand name. I did run into a situation in March Harbor in the Bahamas where I needed some part, but I don't remember what it was. There was no Tohatsu dealer there, but there was a Mercury dealer. I went in with the part number and during the conversation I let it slip that I was going to use it in a Tohatsu. The guy said he wasn't allowed to sell me the part. He freely admitted that it was the same part, but said he couldn't sell it to me. I don't know if Mercury has some sort of contract that prevents them from selling parts for Tohatsu engines or if the guy thought he could get me to buy a new mercury from him because he wouldn't sell me the part and I was in the Bahamas. I had a guest coming in a couple of days so I had him pickup the part in the states and brought it with him.
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Old 12-01-2020, 09:25   #4
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Re: Mercury or Tohatsu outboard motor?

Tohatsu makes the Mercury engines up to 25/40hp (donít remember but all the smaller ones are Tohatsu).

For 4-stroke Iím looking at a 20hp Mercury because it has a different tiller arm. The rest is the same as the Tohatsu again.
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Old 12-01-2020, 09:51   #5
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Re: Mercury or Tohatsu outboard motor?

My vote would be the Tohatsu. I had the 8hp 2-stroke & it was bulletproof. You could always use a little extra power. Not sure of the heritage with Mercury, but
Nissans below 25 or so are Tohatsu's, and Tohatsu's larger than 25 are Nissans.
Now you have 3 potential dealer sources for parts.
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Old 12-01-2020, 10:06   #6
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Re: Mercury or Tohatsu outboard motor?

check the serial numbers on both-
many of the engines sold in Caribbean are European continent engines and parts may be difficult to crossover/obtain in the US. I have three outboards 6, 20, and 70 that ran into this issue.
All arrived from "Caribbean" vessels. One was a Yamaha.
Otherwise, go online and try seeing which one you can get parts for- easily.
Mercury is a West Marine sold product so within the US that will provide some local help.
Depending where you are located having an outboard drop shipped from the US might even be an option. Good luck.
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Old 12-01-2020, 10:09   #7
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Re: Mercury or Tohatsu outboard motor?

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Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
I think the 2 are almost the same with Tohastsu making the Mercury and the the 9.8 is a supped up 8 hp, which is why it weighs the same.
Btw - get the 9.8, more power is better
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Old 12-01-2020, 10:18   #8
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Re: Mercury or Tohatsu outboard motor?

I had a tohatsu when we were cruising. Fabulous little motor. Never went wrong.
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Old 12-01-2020, 10:55   #9
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Re: Mercury or Tohatsu outboard motor?

I have a Tohatsu 9.8 two stroke that I purchased new in Tortola six years ago. Last spring I was in Marsh Harbour and needed a bowl gasket for the carburetor. Since there are no Tohatsu/ Nissan dealers in the Bahamas, I went to the Mercury dealer. He said he would try to match it up with a Mercury part. I pointed to the 9.8 Mercury he had in his show room and said give the gasket that fits that one, itís the exact same out board. He had no problem selling me the little gasket for twenty something dollars. Tohatsu has been building the 8 & 9.8 two strokes for over thirty years with very few design changes ( mostly cosmetic and ignition). Although they havenít been sold in the US for quite some time, the parts are readily available on line or from the dealer. I would choose the 9.8 over the 8 simply because itís the same motor ( and same weight)with an additional 1.8 hp.
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Old 12-01-2020, 12:17   #10
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Re: Mercury or Tohatsu outboard motor?

The Tohatsu 9.8 is a magic little engine. Starts easy, smooth and relatively quiet. And light.
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Old 12-01-2020, 12:31   #11
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Re: Mercury or Tohatsu outboard motor?

I have a Mercury 15hp that is now probably nearly 20 years old. So far other than an ignition module failure 10 years ago it has run really well. My only beef with it is that the number of components that are mild steel and have rusted to a point of being unserviceable, is really disappointing. Example: the cylinder head bolt heads have now rusted to a point that they would have to be cut off if the head needed removal. I have replaced several bits that failed due to rust.

Given that most of these motors need to survive in a marine environment, the use of mild steel components is, in my view, unforgivable. So if Tohatsu motors and Mercury motors are built in the same factory, personally I wouldnít buy either.
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Old 12-01-2020, 12:43   #12
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Re: Mercury or Tohatsu outboard motor?

I have an older 8 hp merc that I use daily for the last 14 ,15 years. The thing that I really like about it is the twist throttle and shifter combo. Let's you keep one hand for you and one hand for the boat. Other that that I'm sure there is not much difference.
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Old 12-01-2020, 12:47   #13
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Re: Mercury or Tohatsu outboard motor?

Tohatsu hands down. Have had a half dozen of major brands over the years and only two that performed well was 9.9 Mariner and a Tohatsu.
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Old 12-01-2020, 12:56   #14
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Re: Mercury or Tohatsu outboard motor?

We got a nw 9.8 Tohatsu during our 3 yrs cruising time with our kids.
Powerful and convenient. However, meanwhile I see this much more critical.

2-strokes are the worst polluters. Each time a new charge of air/fuel is loaded into the combustion chamber, part of it leaks out through the exhaust - so into the water. Read about it.

Next time I would seriously consider getting an electric one or a propane motor.
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Old 12-01-2020, 12:58   #15
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Re: Mercury or Tohatsu outboard motor?

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Originally Posted by CassidyNZ View Post
I have a Mercury 15hp that is now probably nearly 20 years old. So far other than an ignition module failure 10 years ago it has run really well. My only beef with it is that the number of components that are mild steel and have rusted to a point of being unserviceable, is really disappointing. Example: the cylinder head bolt heads have now rusted to a point that they would have to be cut off if the head needed removal. I have replaced several bits that failed due to rust.

Given that most of these motors need to survive in a marine environment, the use of mild steel components is, in my view, unforgivable. So if Tohatsu motors and Mercury motors are built in the same factory, personally I wouldnít buy either.
Every outboard motor I have ever seen and I was in the business for 10 years. Uses. Hardened steel head bolts. In fact I would say I've never seen an internal combustion motor ever They used anything but steel head bolts
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