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Why Your Boat Won't Start

Why Your Boat Won't Start

Posted by Kevin Falvey on 31st Mar 2022

Don't let you this kind of day be ruined by a boat that won't start!

Check out this list of 25 reasons why your boat motor won’t turn over or boat engine won’t start. Don’t spend your time aimlessly poking and prodding; instead use this list to help identify the problem. 

Chances are the answer to your boat engine problem is somewhere on the list. Or, at the least, the list will help you identify the actual boat engine problem you’re experiencing. 

1. Empty gas tank 

2. Gas tank air vent not open 

3. Fuel lines kinked or severely pinched 

4. Water or dirt in fuel system 

5. Clogged fuel filter or screens 

6. Motor not being choked to start 

7. Engine not primed — pump primer system 

8. Carburetor adjustments too lean (not allowing enough fuel to start engine) 

9. Timing and synchronizing out of adjustment 

10. Manual choke linkage bent — auto choke out of adjustment 

11. Spark plugs improperly gapped, dirty or broken 

12. Fuel tank primer inoperative (pressurized system) 

13. Ignition points improperly gapped, burned or dirty 

14. Loose, broken wire or frayed insulation in electrical system 

15. Reed valves not seating or stuck shut 

16. Weak coil or condenser 

17. Cracked distributor cap or rotor or shorted rotor 

18. Loose fuel connector 

19. Poor engine or ignition ground 

20. Faulty ignition or safety switch 

21. Low cranking speed 

22. Low voltage to ignition, when cranking 

23. Low Compression 

24. Safety Lanyard/Kill Switch disconnected 

Takeaway: If your engines won’t start, don’t just keep cranking the ignition or you’ll drain your batteries and add one more thing to the list above.