What to check if Your Boat is Not Running Properly

There are many things that can happen while you are out boating, that make you think you may need a tow. Sometimes the issue may be a simple fix and you can be out on your way again.

Check to make sure the kill switch clip and lanyard are in the normal operating position. This is located on the dashboard under the ignition key. Your engine should normally start with the kill switch in this position.




Make sure the gear shift is in the neutral position. While the kill switch is seated properly and the remote shifter is in the normal position, the engine should start. A common problem is the gear shift will appear to be in the neutral position, but it is actually engaged in the forward position. The engine will not start unless the shifter is brought back to the neutral position. This is a common error that can be mistaken for a dead battery or electrical problem.


If your boat does not start or stay running, it may be starving for fuel. You will want to check the fuel priming bulb, which is in front of most outboard engines. You will squeeze the bulb to see if it is firm and full of fuel. Squeeze the primer bulb until it is firm, then try starting the engine.




Check to make sure that the switch is in the “on” position. The battery will not get any power if the switch is not in the “on” position.




If your fuel filter is loose, it will leak fuel and suck air into the fuel line, preventing the engine from running properly. A quick fix is to tighten the filter hand tight.




On your battery component, there are posts. If either of these wing nuts are loose, the engine will not start or it will make a clicking noise that can be misunderstood as a dead batter. To correct the problem, tighten the wing nut with a crescent wrench or pliers.



After checking these things and the boat still won’t run, you may need a tow.

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