What Are Some Common Outboard Engine Problems?

Common outboard motor problems include an engine that does not start, a loss of power and an overheating engine. Each of these has a simple fix, and owners may be able to repair their own boats without seeking the advice or skills of a boat mechanic.

There are several common reasons why an engine refuses to start. For example, the fuel in the tank may be too old or the motor may have run out of gas. If the fuel is too old, drain and replace it with fresh gas. If the fuel is sufficient, check the kill switch and make sure the shifter is in neutral.

An overheating engine my be the result of an obstruction in the raw water intake. Check the intake for the presence of mud, weeds, or trash. If the intake is clear, check for a loose hose clamp or broken hose.

Quickly losing power in the engine may be due to a clogged fuel filter or fouled spark plugs. Replace the in-line fuel filter, draining any water that accumulated in the engine box. Change out the spark plugs to restore power to the engine.

If the engine displays excessive vibration, check to make sure the propeller is not loose or damaged. Look at the blades and check for signs of cracks or bends. Tighten the propeller if it appears loose. If the propeller is fine, look at the isolation mounts; if these parts are cracked or worn out, replace them.

Another common problem with outboard engines is a propeller that fails to turn properly. To troubleshoot the propeller, check the shear pin; if it is broken, replace it. Be sure there is no dirt or debris stuck on the propeller, and turn off the engine before removing the debris.