This article explains my adventure with the dinghy’s engine, a Honda BF4 purchased new in April 2021. Just to be clear : the point here is to blame Honda.
The engine is a Honda BF4 which celebrates its twelve months. After the first season and the break-in there were small works to be made, as such as the valve clearance. I wanted to do things right and have a nice Honda bill that assures me that the engine has had all the attention it needs, even if it could be expensive. This is an operation standardized by Honda called the “100h maintenance”.
In Menorca, I had entrusted the engine to an approved Honda Marine mechanic, “Kim Nautic” not to mention him. So during this time I could build the last closet I have to do in the front cabin.
After a phone call, I was able to send him an email in Spanish and English to tell him exactly what I needed, with a picture of the maintenance program I wanted him to do. The engine was working very badly and I was convinced that this simple maintenance would solve the problem, just because it was new! So I asked the mechanic to do this exact operation and call me before anything else.
A day after giving the engine to the mechanic, I received a bill for half of the requested operations and a carb cleaning that I had not requested. It doesn’t feel right, so I called him immediately.
“Calling after the maintenance l” for us means that we have fixed everything.
Dirty, dirty carb !
I told myself that they knew what they were doing. After all it is Honda.
It worked well when they delivered it to me, indeed, but no more than 20 minutes!
We couldn’t stay several more days. So I took the lead and decided not to trust a mechanic who doesn’t understand English nor Spanish. With the Honda workshop manual, I followed the diagnostic process and in less than ten minutes I found that the fuel filter has not been changed. A maintenance without changing the filter, what a joke !
So I cleaned my carburetor myself, several times because I didn’t have the specific Honda workshop tools to disassemble all the parts. I first cleaned the filter because I didn’t have a spare and the engine worked for a while. Of course, it broke down again in Ciutadella, then Pollença, where I re-cleaned the carburetor each time.
The origin of the problem was obvious: the fuel supply system was polluted.
I had to find another filter, nothing else.
None of the deck equipment stores in Ciutadella (Menorca) and Pollença (Mallorca) had the right filter. It sounded incredible in the beginning of the season, but that’s how it was!
We contacted another Honda center that is in Inca, the second largest city in Mallorca located in the middle of the island. They confirmed that they had the filter.What a joy! From our anchorage in Pollença, we then row to the coast at the tender pontoon (one kilometer facing the wind). We walked to take a bus which droped us off at the entrance of Inca. We walked along the highway to reach the industrial area where the Honda shop is located. The shopkeeper gave me the precious filter for my super Honda BF4. It looked like my filter… but much too big for my hoses. It was the BF5 filter. Of course they did not have the BF4 one, the one I needed and that they told me to have in stock.
How to stay calm in these conditions ?
Fortunately, Raquel’s family helped us and drove us to Palma de Mallorca where we finally found two compatible filters and competent sellers. I took both, there won’t be any more for the next one but at this point, I did’nt care !
Cleaning the carb by myself (which should have been done!)
The precious filter! Halleluja!
Back on board, I changed the filter, cleaned the carb for the 4th time and the engine worked again. The next day, it broke down again. I disassembled the carb for the fifth time which was again clogged and tweaked my diagnosis : the fuel pump located downstream of the filter was also dirty and that transfered its pollution to the carb. So I put the second filter that I had done well to buy between the pump and the carburetor and since then, the engine runs like a clock. At the end of the season we will hopefully remove the second filter because the pump will be completely cleaned.
What if I sucked at mechanics?
What if I hadn’t had the chance to get help from Raquel’s family?
This BF4 is a well-made and nice engine and I like it very much, but the Honda service is simply lamentable:
- The seller from Portugal had assured me that he had put oil in it before selling it to me. That wasn’t true. Starting a new engine without oil is perfect!
- The mechanic in Menorca does not know how to do standard maintenance, even when given the precise list of things to do according to their own protocol.
- The one in Mallorca is wrong reference twice, the one on the phone and then his colleague in the shop.
All are Honda authorized dealers whose address can be found on the official Honda Marine website. If their R&D departments are excellent, maybe Honda should review their service network. In any case the next engine I would buy will be from another brand, that’s for sure. I don’t know if it will be better, but in any case I’m done with Honda.