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25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

The top 25 reasons your engine won't start, and how to fix them.

Updated:

July 14, 2017
Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

1. Empty Gas Tank

Fix: Calibrating Your Fuel Gauge

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

2. Gas Tank Air Vent Not Open

Fix: Inspect the Boat Before Attempting to Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

3. Fuel Lines Kinked or Severely Pinched

Fix: Choose the Right Hoses for Your Boat

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Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

4. Water or Dirt in Fuel System

Fix: Installing a Fuel/Water Separator

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

5. Clogged Fuel Filter or Screens

Fix: Select the Proper Fuel Filter

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start
Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

6. Motor Not Being Choked to Start

Fix: Check the Choke

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Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

7. Engine Not Primed – Pump Primer System

Fix: Important Fuel System Checks

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

8. Carburetor Adjustments Too Lean (not allowing enough fuel to start engine)

Fix: Servicing a Carburetor

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

9. Timing and Synchronizing Out of Adjustment

Fix: Check the Ignition System

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Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

10. Manual Choke Linkage Bent – Auto Choke Out of Adjustment.

Fix: Check the Choke

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start
Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

11. Spark Plugs Improperly Gapped, Dirty or Broken

Fix: Properly Installing Spark Plugs

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

12. Fuel Tank Primer Inoperative (pressurized system)

Fix: Fuel System Service Tips

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Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

13. Ignition Points Improperly Gapped, Burned or Dirty

Fix: Check the Ignition System

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start
Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

14. Loose, Broken Wire or Frayed Insulation in Electrical System

Fix: Electrical Repairs Checklist

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

15. Reed Valves Not Seating or Stuck Shut

Fix: Inspect the Boat Before Attempting to Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

16. Weak Coil or Condenser

Fix: Check the Ignition System

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

17. Cracked Distributor Cap or Rotor or Shorted Rotor

Fix: Check the Ignition System

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

18. Loose Fuel Connector

Fix: Check the Fuel Lines

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

19. Poor Engine or Ignition Ground

Fix: Check the Ignition System

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

20. Faulty Ignition or Safety Switch

Fix: Check the Ignition System

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

21. Slow Cranking Speed

Fix: Determine What Engine Problems are Really Serious

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

22. Low Voltage to Ignition, When Cranking

Fix: Check the Ignition System

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

23. Low Compression

Fix: Check Compression

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

24. Safety Lanyard/Kill Switch Disconnected

Fix: Install & Check the Kill Switch

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start

Top 25 Reasons Your Boat’s Engine Won’t Start Boating Magazine

25. Dead Battery

Fix: Choose the Proper Marine Battery

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