20 Questions You Should Answer Before Dialing Outboard 911
When customers drag a sick outboard into Drew Melody’s South Wharf Yacht Yard service department, they don’t always come prepared with a detailed list of symptoms. Luckily, after 25 years of experience repairing engines, Dr. Drew knows exactly how to pry it out of ’em. He’s developed his own list of Top 20 Questions to help marine techs troubleshoot. “One or two answers,” he says, “can save the customer time and money.”
Before making that next 911 call to your technician, first get the 411 on these babies:
 When did you first notice the problem?
 Did it happen over a period of time or start immediately?
 Did something specific or noteworthy happen before the problem started?
 What audible alarms sounded (if any)?
 What were your gauges reading? did the Check engine light come on? overheat?
 What were your fuel and oil levels at the time?
 When was the last time you used the boat prior to the problem?
 When and where did you last fuel up, and how much fuel did you put in the tank?
 Have you changed the prop to a different pitch or had any prop work done recently?
 What was the weather like?
 Does the problem occur only when the boat’s in neutral, or when it’s in gear?
 How fast were you traveling, or at what rpm?
 Is the problem limiting you to a specific rpm (you can’t go above a certain rpm; you’re stuck in “limp home” mode)?
 Was the boat at full capacity? did you have more people on board than usual?
 What were you doing at the time (cruising, towing a wakeboard, pulling a skier, etc.)?
 Did you hear any noises? Could you see any fluid leaks, sheen in the water, etc.?
 Who was operating the boat when you first noticed the problem? Were you/he/she operating it any differently than normal?
 Have you recently modified the boat (new transducer, through-hull fittings, etc.)?
 When was the last time you replaced your batteries and performed the recommended routine, scheduled maintenance (fuel- and oil-filter changes, etc.)?
 How many hours are on the motor?