We've all been there - your boat is in the water and packed with guests and gear. You're finally set to take off and go to crank the motor only to find that the boat won't start.Along with a few choice words, your first reaction will probably be something along the lines of "oh great, I wonder how much this is going to cost me".
Don't fret just yet! As with any modern motor, there are simple steps to follow to identify the source of the problem and begin troubleshooting the issue. With any luck and with the help of these common outboard starting fixes, you'll be able to identify and fix the issue in no time and save the day (as well as some money).
Engine Won't Crank or Cranks Slowly
Check the Gauges
If the engine doesn't crank at all, turn the keyto the on position and check to see if other lights and gauges operate correctly. If everything else is dead too, check the outboard's main fuse.
If your boat has a battery switch, ensure that it's switched to the on position and try again.
Most outboards will not crank if the boat is in gear. If the engine won't crank but other lights and gauges work correctly, check that the gear shift is in neutral.
If the engine cranks slowly or doesn't crank at all, it's possible your battery may be dead or low. Use a voltmeter to check the condition of your battery. If the voltmeter reads below 12 volts, your batterymost likely is the problem and may need to be jumped or replaced.
If your battery is holding adequate charge, the cables or connectors may be faulty. Check and clean the battery terminals and connectors to rid them of any corrosion buildup. Inspect the cables for any cracks, corrosion, or other obvious signs of wear that may impact their performance. Once the terminals and connectors have been cleaned and the cables have been inspected, securely attach them back to the battery and see if this solves the issue.
Check Your Starter
If you hear a clicking sound or a low whine when you turn the key, the starter solenoid may be the issue. Before having a mechanic take a closer look, first try the old method of tapping the starter motor lightly with a hammer before turning the key again. This may knock the internal connections back into place allowing them to make better contact. This method may get you out of a bind once or twice, but you should quickly replace the solenoid before its condition worsens and leaves you stranded for good.
Engine Cranks But Won't Start
If your boat has an emergency shutoff switch, check that the cap is firmly in place or the engine might not start.
If you experience trouble starting the engine, engine hesitation, loss of power, or decreased acceleration, you may have failing spark plugs. Check the spark plugs for signs of damage. Any spark plug that contains moisture or black soot indicates that it is damaged and should be replaced.
This one is obvious, but check that the boat actually has fuel in it. You never know when fuel gauges will fail! If the boat has fuel, check your primer to make sure fuel is making its way to the engine. If your boat has a primer bulb, pump the bulb to ensure it fills with fuel and feels firm after several squeezes. If it doesn't, check for obvious signs of leaks or that the primer bulb itself doesn't have a bad valve. If your boat is equipped with an electric primer, check that it's working properly by removing the hose leading to your intake or carburetor and manually operate the primer to see if fuel squirts out. If it does not, you may need to have your primer serviced.
Exhaust and Compression
If you have run through this checklist and your engine still won't start, you may have either blockages to your exhaust or your engine may be lacking compression. Since these issues may require a more resources and experience than the average boater has, we recommend taking the boat in to a certified mechanic at this point to help troubleshoot the issue.
Bent Boat Anchor Shank: Common Causes and Prevention Tips
Numerous factors can ultimately lead to a bent anchor shank, but the majority of the time this is caused either by a bad snag or from the boat shifting its load in a perpendicular direction from the anchor set.In this article, we will discuss common causes and prevention tips to helpyou avoidfinding yourself in such an unlucky predicament.
Prepare Your Boat For An Above Average Hurricane Season
According to the Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS), 2021will likelybringmore hurricanesto the Atlantic coast than we have typically seen in the past.As a result, boaters are being warned to immediately begin putting together a plan of action in case a hurricane does touch down in your area.
Best Methods For Anchoring Your Jet Ski in Deep or Shallow Water
Jet Ski and PWC riders often don't have actual docks or slips for you to tie up to when exploring new areas. As a result, it's important to have the right gear and know-how when it comes time to take a break and drop the anchor. Follow along below as we discuss the best methods for anchoring in either shallow or deep water.
Best Options For Connecting Your Boat To WiFi Internet
Whether you’re sailing around the world, exploring remote destinations, or hosting a few friends for a weekend getaway, there has never been a better time to connect your boat and guests with high-speed internet. Today’s digital era has made connectivity an essential part of work and play for most people, so we’ve assembled the best methods for accessing the internet right from your boat.
Best Boating and Fishing Mobile Apps of 2021
In today's modern world, there are a plethora of apps available to help us navigate our everyday lives.In recent years the boating world has benefitedgreatly from a variety ofhelpful apps that can help take your boating experience to the next level. Boaters today can download appsto help themlog their trips, download nautical charts,reserve a slip,and even learn to tie essential boating knots. We have reviewed many of the apps on the market today and are sharing our best boating and fishing apps.
Choosing the Right Lighting For Your Dock
Dock lightsnot only help give your dock the right lookbut also go a long way to ensure you, your guests and your property remain safe and secure. We've assembled a list of the best dock lighting options to help you find the perfect solution for your dock.
Best Anchor Rode Accessories to Make Anchoring Easier
Anchoring with inadequate ground tackle is not only unsafe but canalso make setting anchor a painstaking and arduous process. Luckily there are a number of solutions available to help simplifythe process and to help keep you and your craft safe. The three main components of your anchor rode are the anchor line, chain, and anchor but additional accessories can be added tocustomize your systemfor your specific needs to help make dropping anchor a snap.
2020 Holiday Gift Guide - 15 Best Boating Gift Ideas
It's that time of the year again! Are you having troubles finding that perfect gift foryour boating enthusiast? Never fear, we have assembled 15 of this years coolest and best gift ideas that will put a smile on any boaters face.
Best DIY Upgrades to Add Comfort and Value to Your Boat
As the weather begins to cool off and the boating season starts to wind down, now is the perfect time tostart planning a few DIY upgrades you can perform to improve the comfort factor and value of your boat for seasons to come.
Outboard Boat Engine Won't Start: Common Issues and Fixes? ›
If you have checked the battery switch and charged the batteries, but your boat engine still won't start, check the battery cables. Make sure the connections that run between the engine and the battery are not loose or corroded. Reconnect or replace any battery cables that have become disconnected or damaged.How do you diagnose outboard starting problems? ›
Diagnosing an Outboard That Won't Start - YouTubeHow do you start a boat that won't start? ›
Outboard On Your Boat Won't Start? Try These 3 Simple Fixes First!How do you start a stubborn outboard motor? ›
Five Steps to Starting an Older 2-Stroke Outboard Engine:
Squeeze primer bulb till firm. Advance throttle in neutral to 2/3s. Turn key on, push to choke (or pull out choke) and crank at the same time. Release choke, return the throttle to neutral after ignition.
If your boat motor is fuel injected, a dirty or defective airflow sensor can cause poor engine performance. Cleaning or replacing the airflow sensor may clear up your stalling problems. A dirty carburetor can't properly regulate the air and fuel mixture that the engine needs to run which can lead to stalling problems.What can cause an outboard motor to not start? ›
- Safety Features Engaged. ...
- Starting Sequence Errors. ...
- Boat Not in Neutral. ...
- Dead or Disconnected Battery. ...
- Engine Not Primed. ...
- Empty Gas Tank. ...
- Loose or Pinched Fuel Lines. ...
- Air Vents or Exhaust Blocked.
What Should You Do If An Outboard Has Been Sitting For Awhile? Remove the Spark Plugs & Oil The Cylinders, Replace Plugs if Needed. Check the Condition of the Gear Lube. Disconnect the Fuel Line From the Boat & Check the Condition of the Fuel.Why is my Mercury outboard not starting? ›
Reason 1: Battery Issue
One of the most common problems that mercury outboard faces are complications of a battery issue. First, check the battery state and make sure it is charged enough to start the engine. If it is charged enough but still not responding, then discharge it. Again recharge it and then try to start.
Vapor lock occurs when liquid fuel turns to vapor before it gets to the carburetor or fuel rail. This is a problem because pumps designed for liquid do not pump vapor very well. Vapor lock causes: Loss of fuel pressure (and flow) Loss of power.How do you Unflood an outboard motor? ›
To clear, remove plugs, crank engine, or pull starter to expel excess fuel. Clean and dry plugs with cloth. Replace plugs, try to start with max throttle & no choke. If it starts, then dies, you can then try with a little choke as per a normal start.
How do you test an outboard starter? ›
Turn your ignition switch to “Start” and read the voltage. If the reading is more significant than 9.5 volts, try to start the engine. If this test fails, then your boat starter requires replacement or rebuilding. If the reading is less than 9.5 volts, you have a voltage loss between the battery and starter.How do you test a starter solenoid on an outboard motor? ›
Reattach and secure the battery cables and with the transmission in neutral, rotate the battery selector switch to the "on" position. Turn the ignition key to start. If you hear a clunking noise coming from the starter, it's the solenoid trying to do its job and there is probably nothing wrong with it.How do you troubleshoot a 2 stroke outboard motor? ›
Outboard motor trouble shooting and maintenance - YouTubeHow do you check outboard spark plugs? ›
How to Test Spark Plugs on an Outboard - YouTube