Q:

What does it mean if an outboard fuel primer bulb does not get hard?

A:

Quick Answer

If an outboard primer bulb fills with fuel but does not get firm, there is likely a leak in the system on the engine side of the bulb. A primer bulb not filled with fuel and not firm indicates an empty fuel tank or blockage upstream of the bulb.

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Full Answer

Primer bulbs are used to manually pull fuel from the tank to the outboard engine before a cold start. Once running, the mechanical fuel pump in the engine pulls fuel directly from the tank. In a properly functioning system, the empty bulb fills with fuel after several squeezes, becoming too firm to squeeze once the complete fuel system is primed.

When a primer bulb continues to push fuel through toward the engine, it is either because there is a leak in the fuel line or in the fuel system in the engine itself. This is a very hazardous situation that the owner must locate and fix immediately.

Fuel pumped through the lines and out into the boat or overboard is highly flammable and poses a serious environmental hazard. If after a few pumps the primer bulb does not become too firm to squeeze, it is best to stop and inspect the system and make necessary repairs.

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