Boat Won't Start? Try These Troubleshooting Tips

If your outboard motor won't start, there are a variety of troubleshooting techniques you can try. To get back on the water or to get back to shore if you're already on the water, consider working through these steps.

1. Check the Battery

Open the door to the area where your battery is stored. If your boat has a battery switch, make sure that's on. Then, double check all the connections to the battery. They should be tight. Typically, you're looking at the hardware that connects the cords to the battery, and these connections are generally covered with a piece of rubber. If anything doesn't appear to be connected correctly, you may need to take your boat in for a check-up.

2. Make Sure the Outboard Motor Is Getting Fuel

If the battery seems okay, assess the fuel situation. Keep in mind that gauges aren't always accurate so you may want to manually check that your boat has petrol. To be on the safe side, always fill up your boat before you go out on the water.

If you are certain that the fuel tank is full, try to look at the fuel lines. If they are blocked or not connected correctly, your boat won't be able to run. Also, make sure that the filters need the fuel-water separators don't need to be cleaned. If they are clogged, that can also prevent fuel from moving where it needs to be.

3. Consider Overheating Issues

Typically, this issue doesn't come into play if you're starting your outboard motor for the first time of the day. However, if you've already spent hours on the water and your motor won't start, overheating may be something to consider.

Put your hand over the motor to see if it's producing excessive heat. If so, check the water drain. Outboard motors are cooled by having water running over them. If you can't see water coming out of the drain, that could mean there's a clog somewhere in the system. If you can locate and clear the clog, you can stop the overheating and get the boat started.

4. Slow Down for Noises

Sometimes, your outboard motor may start reluctantly, but it may make a lot of noises. Banging and screeching noises can be caused when a propeller is bent and rubbing against other parts of the motor. In these situations, don't take the boat out on the water. Instead, schedule a repair. If you're already out on the water, take the boat in, but go slowly and steadily.

If these tips don't get your boat started, contact an outboard motor specialist and schedule a repair. Also, remember that routine tune-ups are essential if you want your boat to run well and efficiently.