Review: Tohatsu M18E2 outboard motor

By: Andrew Norton, Photography by: Andrew Norton

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A Tohatsu M18E2 outboard motor is built to survive the hard life of a marine engine.

Review: Tohatsu M18E2 outboard motor
The Tohatsu M18E2 outboard motor is made for the hard life of a marine engine. After being stored outdoors for two years in the rain, it remains in excellent condition.


Originally published in TrailerBoat #279, February / March 2012.

Whenever I borrow an outboard, especially if it’s a long-term loan review, I tend to remove it from the boat at the end of a day’s fishing and store it in a shed away from the elements.

Compare that to my fishing partner Kim, who owns an ’80s era 3.8m Savage Snipe tinnie fitted with a 2009 Tohatsu M18E2 outboard. A pool table takes up most of her garage (you’ve got to get your priorities right, don’t you?) so it lives outside, come rain, hail or shine.

So what condition was it in after two years of communing with nature?



Well, apart from some surface rust on the upper bolts connecting the leg with the steering pivot tube, I’d have to say it’s actually very good! For example, the indigo paintwork introduced on all Tohatsu engine models in late 2005 is in excellent condition; the only paint abrasion is on the prop, the result of some of Kim’s friends forgetting the Tohatsu 18 has shallow water drive.

From new, the engine has been operated on standard non-E10 petrol and semi-synthetic Valvoline Outboard 2-Stroke oil. That was the recommendation from Lakeside Marine, the national Tohatsu distributor, for all carbie two-stroke Tohatsu engines.

Unlike my rather pedantic self, Kim has never seen the need to keep log books on running hours, distance travelled or fuel consumption, but she estimates the engine has done about 40 hours. The spark plugs have been replaced once and the original waterpump impeller is still providing plenty of cooling flow.

When the first service was due local Tohatsu dealers quoted Kim between $80 and $200-plus for the job. She found the best price at Bill’s Outboards and More, in the Hunter Valley (they even performed the service while she waited). However, the Tohatsu M18E2 outboard motor hasn’t been serviced since.

Lakeside Marine has changed its servicing requirements so that the first service is still at 10 hours, followed by every 50 hours (or annually) instead of every six months, substantially reducing maintenance costs. The recreational-usage warranty is still three years.



The OEDA one star-rated M18E2 has the lowest exhaust emissions of any carbie two-stroke outboard in its power range. It develops 17.7hp at 5500rpm with a wide open throttle (WOT) rpm range of 5200 to 5800 from its twin-cylinder, 294cc, loop-charged powerhead. The gear ratio is 1.85:1 and the short shaft dry weight is 41kg.

An unregulated 7amp 80W alternator is optional and the M18E2 is available in electric start versions (retaining the manual overhead recoil starter) in both tiller-steer and remote control. A nice touch is the auxiliary cooling water intake under the anti-ventilation plate, which allows water to reach the powerhead even with clogged main intakes.

Kim’s Tohatsu M18E2 outboard motor still starts easily with a firm two-hand pull when cold and one hand when hot. The effective thermostat warms the engine quickly from cold and oil smoke appears only after 15 minutes or more at trolling revs.

The Tohatsu M18E2 produces considerably more torque than its direct competition and easily handles heavier loads than a two-stroke 15hp outboard. Swinging the standard 8.8in pitch alloy prop and pushing a total of 350kg with Kim, myself and fishing tackle, it planes us at about one third throttle opening.

No prop ventilation occurs through wider turns, but it can be induced through tight figure-of-eight turns. The engine is mounted directly on the transom so little can be done about this, though in normal running it’s not a problem.



As of December, the shortshaft manual start Tohatsu M18E2 had a price of $2600 RRP, with a spare alloy prop costing around $150.


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The combination of the deep, beamy Snipe and the Tohatsu 18 outboard has given Kim and her friends a lot of fun over the past two years, with an average fuel usage of 3lt/h. This is around 10 per cent more than a Yamaha 15F would use on this hull, but way under a two-stroke 20.

The rig is easily towed by a Suzuki Vitara 4WD and single-handedly launched and retrieved on the keel roller and bilge pad trailer that came with the boat, without having to dunk the axle or springs. Not once has the engine let her down and it still performs like new with minimum maintenance, which, after all, is what two-strokes are all about.






1.6kts (3.0kmh)

800rpm (trolling)


10.6kts (19.7kmh)

3500rpm (clean plane)

12.9kts (23.9kmh)

4000rpm (cruise)


21.0kts (40.0kmh)

5800rpm (WOT)





Suzuki DT15

Mercury / Mariner Super 15

Yamaha 15F









HP / rpm

14.7 / 5500

15.3 / 5125

14.7 / 5000









OEDA stars





Originally published in TrailerBoat #279, February / March 2012. Why not subscribe today?


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