How to Start an Outboard Mariner Motor

The correct way to start a Mariner outboard motor doesn't begin with slapstick, where someone falls in the water. It's way more pedestrian than that, almost like starting an automobile. In fact, the biggest difference between an starting an automobile and and starting an outboard lie in the fuel-delivery and fuel-consumption systems. The choke, if not automatic, reduces the amount of air going into the cold motor -- a situation not conducive to easy starting. Electric pumps are rapidly replacing vacuum fuel pumps, but until they do, squeeze the bulb to prime the vacuum pump.

Move the shifter on the motor or the remote control station to "Neutral" to disable the neutral safety switch that will prevent the motor from starting if the motor is not in "Neutral."

Pump the fuel primer bulb until the bulb is firm to the touch.

Push in on the key switch to set the choke. Turn the key switch all the way to the right, about 90 degrees, and this will trigger the starter motor and get the engine moving.

Start counting to 10 slowly and release the key. If the motor starts before you reach 10, release the key. If the motor does not start, wait two minutes before attempting to start the motor again.


  • "Mercury/Mariner Outboard Repair Manual 2.5-250 HP 2-Stroke 1990-2000"; Seloc Marine; 2007

About the Author

Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.