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Why won’t my boat engine start?

Having problems getting your motor started? We’ve listed the top 25 issues to check, if you’re having problems with your outboard, inboard or sterndrive. Got something to add? Leave a comment in the section below.

  1. You’re out of fuel

Sounds obvious, but according to Boating Magazine, running out of petrol is the number 1 reason for an engine failing to start. So take a look at your fuel level, just to make sure the answer isn’t woefully simple.

  1. The tank’s air vent is closed

Make sure the air vent on your petrol tank is open. If it’s closed, the engine will struggle to start. The tank needs to breathe to work properly. Why? Because if it is not ventilated the pressure and vacuum in the tank cannot be relieved.

  1. Dirt or water in fuel system

Keeping the fuel system clear of water and dirt is so important. Regular maintenance or servicing will help with prevention. But be sure to check the fuel system in between launches too, just to make sure there’s no sneaky water or debris in there.

  1. Clogged fuel filter

Keeping the fuel system free of dirt and debris extends to the fuel filter itself. A clogged fuel filter can prevent your engine from starting, and it’s pretty easy to check. If you’re unsure, ask a seasoned boatie to show you how to check yourself, so it stays clear between services.

  1. Fuel lines

If your fuel lines are pinched or kinked, this will impact the starter motor. Fuel lines send petrol to the starter motor; so kinked lines restrict the flow of fuel to the motor. If this is happening regularly, you may need to shorten them or buy lines that don’t kink as easily.

Get more tips

Check out Boating Magazine’s‘Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start’, and head to our blog for more tips and updates for the Australian boating community.

We also have a Facebook page, where we share insights and connect seafarers from all walks of life. Head here to check it out.

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