As anyone who has owned a boat with an outboard motor knows, we dread coming back to the boat to find the engine won't start. Sometimes, even after regular use, the engine won't start. Other problems include the engine not idling properly and loss of power. Here's a look at some of the troubleshooting steps you can take to find out what the problem is, and to get the boat running again.
Engine Won't Start
The first thing you need to check here is the fuel tank. Is it empty? If so, fill it. Also take a look at the fuel lines and make sure they're not kinked. Take a look at the fuel filter and check that it's not obstructed. Could the fuel system have gotten contaminated with dirt or water? If all those steps don't fix it, things might be a bit more complicated and you might need to replace the spark plugs. Finally, check the throttle is at idle and return it to idle if not.
Engine Won't Turn Off Easily
The easiest thing to check here is the propeller. Make sure seaweed or other debris isn't fouling it. You make have to replace spark plugs or clean out the fuel system. It may be contaminated with dirt or water.
Power loss issues can include, as before, checking the spark plugs, fuel system and fuel filter. But, it can also include taking a look at the oiling system. Also, take a look at the water intakes and make sure they're not obstructed. That can mean the cooling system isn't functioning.
No Forward Progress
If the engine is running and responding normally and you can't make forward progress, it's propeller related. Check that the propeller isn't loose, that there aren't missing blades, that the shaft isn't bent and that there isn't debris fouling the propeller. Switch the engine off first and take the key with you in the water to avoid any safety issues.