Evinrude E-NATION, for those dedicated to water, power, fishing and fun
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Captain
Posts: 29
Registered: ‎01-29-2012

EMM Failures - Why??

I have owned E-TECs for over six years but I am concerned about the EMM failures. I have had one, and know too many other owners with the same experience. I see it on most forums including many on this forum where I just read a post from an owner who has had three in a year. It's a problem which has been around since the first E-TECs and it doesn't seem to be getting any better as it's still occurring on later models - some new with less than 50 hours.

 

But WHY have they failed - and why are they still failing? I have yet to see a reason given and dealers shrug it off a just "bad luck".

 

Go onto almost any boating website and see threads like "What new outboard should I buy?" the negative comments on E-TECs almost always mention EMM failures. Even non E-TEC owners ask me if I've had a "black box" fail. It is a common reason for unhappy customers and is negatively affecting E-TEC sales.

 

I don't see EMM type failures on four strokes, at least it doesn't seem to an issue they complain about. so I assume it's a rare occurrence.There are also a lot more four stroke engines and owners out there than E-TEC .

 

When EMMs first appeared on vehicles many years ago there were some failures but they are now very reliable and failures rare. Over the years computer components have become cheaper, faster, and more reliable. We use them every day. Small computers are everywhere and they are made to withstand extreme conditions - even outer space.

 

If the auto industry had this reported failure rate of EMMs they would be forced to re-call owners vehicles and fix the problem.

 

Boat engine reliability is far more serious than cars. If a boat engine suddenly stops, the boat doens't gently coast to a stop like a car on the expressway. It goes from planing at full speed to a violent stop which can cause injuries, loss of control and I've seen people thrown overboard. If my car stops running I can get out and push it or walk to safety. Bad weather can sink a boat a boat without power but very few cars sink before a storm blows over. Many of us don't have the US Coast Guard standing by 24/7. My boat can get home on two cylinders and keep going with other mechanical problems but if my EMM dies I'm "Dead in the water".

 

WHY are they failing??

 

Is it a voltage problem? - why not add voltage protection?

An overheating problem? - why not add a heat warning sensor like I have on my cheap home PC?

Physical damage from shock and vibration?

Is it the Owner/Operator's fault? How?

 

BRP must have examined many EMM failures and determined the cause of death and I would like to know what is causing them to fail. There are no moving parts. They don't seem to get repaired - just replaced.

 

BRP's parent company Bombardier make jet aircraft so I'm sure BRP must have access to robust, reliable electronic components. BRP are know for their advances in technology. They have re-designed and built a complete new engine called the G2 - and I want one. The list of improvements and new developments on the G2 is truly amazing - but I haven't seen anything about the new tougher and more reliable EMM for the G2. If your EMM lets you down all that other technology is redered useless. It is the most important component in the engine.

 

 

It's nice that BRP often helps and replaces EMMs after warranty free, but that doesn't get me home safely. Assuming they replace it with the same EMM unit that failed, and no explanation of why it failed or how I can avoid it happening again,  I have no reason believe it won't happen again.

 

I have been boating for 40+ years. In addition to safety equipment, I carry a tool set, spare plugs, prop, auxiliary steering, spare radio, plugs, oil, hydraulic spares, etc. I believe preventative maintenance is cheap. In addition to E-TEC 3yr/300hr I take mine for a service annually for a diagnostics check, water pump inspection, grease prop and motor, and change the fuel filter. My engine gets washed, flushed and inspected after every trip - for safety. Paranoid? I've built boats and owned everything from dinghy's to a 100 ton commercial longliner so it's based on experience.

 

BRP has had many years to fix these EMM problems. I think we should know what they have found and what they are doing about it.

 

Come on, BRP, I love my E-TEC and I'll buy another one if you assure me you've fixed the EMM problems.

 

Owner/Pro comments welcome Smiley Happy

Al
E_TEC 115hp
Serial No 05333751
Model E115DPLIN
Admiral
Posts: 7,116
Registered: ‎07-14-2011

Re: EMM Failures - Why??

[ Edited ]

 

 

EMM failures are not commonplace on E-TEC engines. Most of the complaints you read about on the internet are from people who heard something from other people who overheard a cousin's neighbor's hairdresser who had a brother-in-law who hung around a boat ramp.  The erroneous stories get repeated by others so often that all of a sudden they are blown out of proportion and believed as gospel by the unknowing. It is the same way as urban legends develop.  Lets say you read about 100 bad ones  but there are over a million units out there. What is the percentage of failure?

 

This is not to say that malfunctions do not occur, but the number compared to the hundreds of thousands of E-TECs out there is miniscule.  Most of the time on the few situations that occur are due to improper rigging or conditions. Often wing nuts are used on the batteries which is a no-no for all makes of current outboards as they allow for voltage spikes from loose cables. Multiple overheating problems can contribute to EMM failure as can improper wiring such as using the outboard battery as one of the trolling motor batteries.

 

Other makes of engines including cars do not use an EMM, they have fewer needs for computing power and get by with the simple ECU or ECM units.

 

 

 


"There is never just one thing wrong with a boat";
                    -- Travis McGee, main character in a book series by John D. McDonald 


 



***************

The factory recommends that a properly trained technician service your Johnson or Evinrude outboard motor. Should you elect to perform repairs yourself, use caution, common sense, and observe safety procedures in the vicinity of flammable liquids, around moving parts, near high-temperature components, and working with electrical or ignition systems.

The information offered here is only general in nature and should not be construed as complete factory approved procedures, techniques, or specifications. Always use the proper service manual for your motor, up-to-date service literature, the correct tools, and have an understanding of how to proceed with troubleshooting and repair methods. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with a procedure, a situation, or a technique, enlist the services of a factory trained technician.


Captain
Posts: 29
Registered: ‎01-29-2012

Re: EMM Failures - Why??

[ Edited ]

Thanks Bill,

Sorry, I may have mis-used the term EMM vs ECU, ECM, "Black Box" or other terms terms used for the "on-board computer" used on most engines today. I was trying to avoid confusion.

 

I appreciate your info on how we can help to avoid ECU failures. Thanks.

 

The fequency of failure may be a matter of perception but general market perception is:

E-TEC reliability is an issue.

The the EMM is a frequent reason for failure.

When they fail, they are expensive to fix.

 

Regarding statistics that can be deceiving -

I remember a college stats lecturer who quoted this example: "If your head is in the oven, and your feet in the freezer - your average temperature indicates you must be "comfortable""!

I have ownd two E-TECS and so far have a 50% failure rate.  The first was a 30hp which I loved and sold the boat to a pal at 3 years. The EMM failed six months after warranty. I then had a new boat built in 2012 and had a new 115 installed. It is now out of warranty.

A pal of mine has two 50s on his boat and one EMM replaced. Also 50%.

I live in Port Elizabeth with a small number of boats compared to the US market,  and and can cite several more instances in my area as mentioned in my post above.

So this is not from my "cousins neighor's hairdresser" you refer to.

There are a significant number of owners on this Forum (and Barnacle Bill's) citing EMM failures with engine model and serial numbers which I assume is not rumour and conjecture as you implied. Fuel injectors are also a frequent problem.

Can you give us real stats? How many E-TECS sold, how many EMMs replaced, and reason for failure?

How many EMMs models been been superseded with new models and part numbers indicating improved design over the years?

Whatever the statistics, anyone reading just this forum would have reason to be justifiably concerned about EMM reliability and is affecting E-TEC sales here.

 

In terms of the reasons for failure you mention:

Wing nuts or loose battery connections causing voltage surge. I assume E-TEC has some sort of a regulator on the charge circuit like an alternator. Most charge around 14 volts and a poor connection usually causes a surge in current (amps not volts) and a fuse blows before damage. If the E-TEC charging system can cause a voltage surge then voltage protection can be added to the EMM. Rigging problems or just salt air can cause problems with electrics on a boat but can can't think of a reason the EMM can't be protected. Even if battery polarity is reversed (it happens) it can be protected.. There must be other reasons for EMM failures???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Al
E_TEC 115hp
Serial No 05333751
Model E115DPLIN
Captain
Posts: 29
Registered: ‎01-29-2012

Re: EMM Failures - Why??

[ Edited ]

Regarding voltage sensitivity please see this post from the etecownersgroup forum.

 

"Surge protection/ spike suppression/reverse polarity protections.........all have been common shared knowledge for circuit designers for many years now, but not seemingly present even in our recent year E-TECs. (yet unclear about G2s)  All signs seem to suggest the original E-TEC's basic EMM design remains largely unchanged (still dependent too upon pumped in river/lake waters to avoid overheat). "

 

http://www.etecownersgroup.com/post/protect-emm-from-voltage-surges-spikes-7488444?pid=1287919790

 

If this is a common cause for EMM failure and it is an expensive and safety critical component why doesn't Evinrude fix it?

 

Al
E_TEC 115hp
Serial No 05333751
Model E115DPLIN
Admiral
Posts: 7,116
Registered: ‎07-14-2011

Re: EMM Failures - Why??

 

 

The EMM has internal protection in its circuitry for average instances of voltage fluctuations. Because no one but the engineering department knows exactly what happened internally to any malfunctioning EMMs, everything your read online is speculation from "keyboard cowboys." Most of the few instances I've seen have a history overheating codes in the memory usually from the way they were operated or from ingesting sand or mud while running aground which restricted the cooling system.

 

Other than saying that the percentage of EMM problems is very small in relation to all the ones that are in use, there is no more to discuss on this matter.

 

 

 


"There is never just one thing wrong with a boat";
                    -- Travis McGee, main character in a book series by John D. McDonald 


 



***************

The factory recommends that a properly trained technician service your Johnson or Evinrude outboard motor. Should you elect to perform repairs yourself, use caution, common sense, and observe safety procedures in the vicinity of flammable liquids, around moving parts, near high-temperature components, and working with electrical or ignition systems.

The information offered here is only general in nature and should not be construed as complete factory approved procedures, techniques, or specifications. Always use the proper service manual for your motor, up-to-date service literature, the correct tools, and have an understanding of how to proceed with troubleshooting and repair methods. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with a procedure, a situation, or a technique, enlist the services of a factory trained technician.


Captain
Posts: 29
Registered: ‎01-29-2012

Re: EMM Failures - Why??

[ Edited ]

No Bill, they are concerned E-TEC owners.

To call them "keyboard cowboys" and to imply that the EMM failures I and my friends have had are just conjecture is insulting.

If you take the time to read the thread I posted, there are many tips and info on how owners can avoid damaging their EMMs - which would be useful info for owners on this forum and should maybe be re-posted here.

I'm not saying "the customer is always right" but I do think they should be treated with some respect and their problems taken more seriously.

 

A quick search shows 200 EMM threads on this form and many are failures.

On the E-TEC ownersgroup fourm ther are 500 EMM threads and many failures and every one can be tied back to the owners engine model and serial number. I'm sure only a small percentage of owners belong to these forums but it's shows the problems are real and not insignificant.

 

I'm not E-Tec bashing. I love my E-TEC.

Al
E_TEC 115hp
Serial No 05333751
Model E115DPLIN
Admiral
Posts: 7,116
Registered: ‎07-14-2011

Re: EMM Failures - Why??

[ Edited ]

 

 

I believe that you misunderstood my previous post and I'm sorry that you took it the wrong way.

 

I know that there are EMM failures that happen and am not contesting that.  My comment was  about "keyboard cowboys" who pose as self-appointed  experts guessing at what may have happened inside a failed EMM. They don't know.

 

 

 


"There is never just one thing wrong with a boat";
                    -- Travis McGee, main character in a book series by John D. McDonald 


 



***************

The factory recommends that a properly trained technician service your Johnson or Evinrude outboard motor. Should you elect to perform repairs yourself, use caution, common sense, and observe safety procedures in the vicinity of flammable liquids, around moving parts, near high-temperature components, and working with electrical or ignition systems.

The information offered here is only general in nature and should not be construed as complete factory approved procedures, techniques, or specifications. Always use the proper service manual for your motor, up-to-date service literature, the correct tools, and have an understanding of how to proceed with troubleshooting and repair methods. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with a procedure, a situation, or a technique, enlist the services of a factory trained technician.


Captain
Posts: 29
Registered: ‎01-29-2012

Re: EMM Failures - Why??

[ Edited ]

Still insulting and unfounded as you don't know that "they don't know" or even who they are.

We are not "self-appointed experts" as you claim. That's why we come here as concerned Evinrude owners and customers for your "expert advice".

 

Please read the thread I posted above from The E_TEC Owners forum.

http://www.etecownersgroup.com/post/protect-emm-from-voltage-surges-spikes-7488444?pid=1287919790

 

Barnacle Bills run the owners forum at their own cost to assist them with problems. They made no derogatory comments about the E-TEC owner or his post. that I quoted. He is, in fact, an aircraft electronics maintenance engineer who has also had an EMM failure on his E-TEC and suggested some simple ways the EMM could be improved to reduce failures.

It would be comforting to know that you are constantly improving your products and if I buy a new 2016 115hp E-TEC it won't have the same EMM unit that has been since 2008 - or , if it has been improved, please tell us.

 

There is nothing to misunderstand about your replies.

We owners are idiots, spreading unfounded rumors about problems that are not true and are not worth discussing.

 

I read your expert advice as:

""you are lying about your EMM failure, your friends that had EMM failures are lying to you, and all customer complaints you see are just bulls**t".

 

Did Evinrude create this forum to help their customers with technical problems, use the feedback to improve their products and improve their image in the market - or just to insult them.

 

The only valid comments you have made about reasons for EMM failures is:

 

"Most of the few instances I've seen have a history overheating codes in the memory usually from the way they were operated or from ingesting sand or mud while running aground which restricted the cooling system."

 

We all run our outboards through sand and mud occasionally. I'm fairly sure the engine water pump and cooling system can handle it, but I can see how dirt and debris could clog up the smaller pipes and passages in the EMM cooling.

Looks like a flow sensor on the EMM cooling system could prevent overheating damage from blocked or restricted coolant flow and maybe even a small strainer which is easy to acces and clean. The EMM warns me if my engine is overheating to prevent damage but nothing warns me that my EMM i overheating until I need to replace it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Al
E_TEC 115hp
Serial No 05333751
Model E115DPLIN
Captain
Posts: 168
Registered: ‎07-19-2011

Re: EMM Failures - Why??

That is incorrect the EMM will protect itself if the EMM or the outboard itself gets hots. Continual overheats of electrical components shorten the life cylce of that said product and if it happens once and the root cause is not fixed then continual overheats persist.

Mate
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎05-21-2016

Re: EMM Failures - Why??

i have a 115 ,2007 model and have had to have the EMM replaced. Mine went out 45 days past my 3 year warranty , BRP did not want to offer me any assitence. the dealer went to bat for and got me one off a test motor.