Hi all. I have a Honda 2003 BF30 w/electric start. Engine has low hours and was running fine. All of a sudden I seem to be blowng the 15a electric starter relay fuse every time I turn the key. Battery is up and good and conditions of wires and terminals appear ok. Could trailering have created a short somewhere? Any suggestions on how to troubleshoot this? I am not a mechanic but I don't want to have to take it in to service just yet. Thanks.
Finding a short circuit isn't real easy. First you need to try to narrow things down. Sounds like you have a remote control rather than tiller control motor, right?Does the fuse blow when the ignition switch is turned to RUN/ON? Or when turned to START? Does it blow every time? If it blows every time in START, then the solenoid may be bad. If it blows as soon as the ignition switch is turned to RUN/ON then some other component or wire is bad.If some work or anything was done to the engine, first look there. For example, if any connections were disturbed, check to make sure they've been restored correctly.Next do a careful visual inspection for any signs of burnt or overheated wires or components. Also look for any signs of an arced or flashed over spot, like an arc welder burn. Fix anything you find.If you don't see anything, then you'll have to go through the circuitry to find the short or shorted component. There are a couple ways to do this.If you have a multimeter and a schematic, then you can go the technical way. Disconnect the battery. Confirm a short by verifying a low resistance between the load side of the fuse and ground (with the fuse removed). Go to the connection terminal board and disconnect one component in the circuit, see if the short goes away. If yes, move the meter to the disconnected circuit and continue in this way until you've isolated the fault. If you're still with me then you know what you're doing and don't need more help than that.Then there's the low-tech way, the 'easter egg hunt' method. Have a good supply of fuses available. Leave the battery connected, but disconnect the starter motor so it doesn't try to crank every time. Disconnect one component at a time from the fuse circuit and see if the fuse blows when the ignition switch is turned. If the fuse does not blow, the disconnected component is the culprit. Some of the components connected to the fuse are the regulator rectifier, choke switch and solenoid, and oil pressure/overheat indicator lights. Of course it may not be the component itself, but instead the wiring to the component that's shorted. You just about need a schematic to do this right, so if you don't have one, maybe at this point it's time to see your mechanic. Hopefully your motor is still covered by warranty. Good luck.
Thanks pchonda. I am thinking that I may have a bad solenoid rather than a short. After reading your email I went out and looked closer at what was happening. It appears that the fuse blows only when the key is turned to the "run" position. The starter wheel will turn, but it will not spring up to engage the fly wheel, and then the fuse blows shortly after the starter motor begins to turn. I think I could probably change the solenoid myself, if I could get at the small bolts that hold it to the engine housing. One is accessible but the other is pretty well buried. Is this something only a service tech should do, or is getting at the "buried bolt" not as hard as it appears? Also, could a bad solenoid cause the power trim to not work as well? Thanks for the reply pchonda. Your information was really helpful in seeing what was happening.
kokonee- Glad to see you're making some progress in tracking down your problem.Need to make clear exactly which switch position we're talking about, 'cause it's a real important clue. In my first post, START is the position where the engine turns over, or tries to, usually the furthest clockwise that you can turn the key. RUN is the position before START, and the position the key returns to when you release it from the START position; in other words RUN is the position between OFF and START. From what you say above, it seems that your fuse only blows in START, not RUN as you said. (The starter motor should only activate in the START position.)OK, if that's correct, then the starter relay seems to be the load that's causing the fuse to blow. You ought to be able to replace it yourself; just be careful to note which wire went where, etc.BUT before you go take out the starter relay, make sure your battery is fully charged and there are no loose or bad connections. This possibility arises from your comment regarding the inoperative power trim. I don't have the schematic for your engine but in general the power trim is connected to operate independently of the ignition switch, meaning it should operate even with the ignition switched OFF. So, a bad starter relay should not affect the power trim.What is common to both the trim and starter relay is the battery and connections thereto. So check that the connections to the battery make good contact. Be aware that this is more than just being tight. Connections can be tight and still not make good contact. If you have a multimeter, measure that the voltage between the positive and negative battery connectors is the same as between the battery terminals while the trim is operated. If not the same, then you have a bad contact; take connectors off and clean, then reinstall. Verify that connections where trim relay and motor connect are also good (sorry, but I don't know exactly where those connections physically are on your motor).If all connections make good contact and the battery is fully charged then worst case is you have two problems: bad starter relay and bad trim switch/relay/motor (exactly which trim part is bad needs to be determined, but that's another post).Good luck; let us know what you find.
Thanks pchonda. Sorry for the confusion. I meant to say "start position", not run. When I turned the key all the way to the right as I normally do in starting the motor, I was happy that at least the starter motor would spin, but the gear teeth on the starter would not pop up to engage the fly wheel. The fuse blows shortly after the starter motor begins to spin. Yesterday, I removed the battery and now have it on charge (it was at 12.4v when I took it out). I will clean teminals and connectors upon reinstall and check them as you suggested.Point of clarification- when you say I may need to replace the "bad starter relay" are you referring to the fuse holder component that might be faulty and not the solenoid?I am not ready to give up on this yet. I will look at it again, probably Friday when I get some time off work. I will keep you posted. Thanks so much for the help. This forum is great. It is like having someone looking over my shoulder helping me as I try to work this problem out.
kokonee - Reference to a bad starter relay is because indications are that the smaller outboards (less than 50 hp) use a separate starter relay as opposed to an integral solenoid. Turning the key to START (thanks for clarifying that) energizes the relay coil. Since the fuse seems to blow at that point, that's the reason to suspect the starter relay. The starting motor is in turn energized through the relay, but that current does not go through the fuse, just the starter relay coil current.The starter drive (the small gear atop the starter motor) pops up to engage the flywheel ring gear as a result of centrifugal force from the starting motor spinning. If the starting motor doesn't spin fast enough, the drive gear won't make it all the way up. If there's no mechanical binding keeping that drive gear from popping up (you should check that), then it's likely the starting motor isn't spinning fast enough.The starting motor may not spin fast enough because the battery is low, a connection to the battery is bad, the starter relay main contacts are bad, or maybe the fuse is just blowing (and dropping the relay main contacts open) before the motor gets up to speed. Too early to suspect the starter motor itself is bad.So, recommend continue to ensure the battery is fully charged, the connections make good contact (try trim operation with ignition OFF), then pull starter relay if still no joy.If you're confident enough, you can verify the starter relay is the bad component a couple of ways. One way is to bypass the starter relay and connect the battery directly to the starting motor. If the starting motor works (drive gear comes up, outboard turns over) then you'll know the starting motor is good. Careful: Don't get caught in anything spinning, don't short-circuit the battery or touch positive to the engine metal, be ready to remove the connection to the starting motor quickly (don't want to crank over the outboard for too long), and most important remove the sparkplugs so the outboard doesn't actually start. The other way is to rig a separate 15A fuse to the starter relay coil after you've disconnected it from its normal wiring, then connect the relay, by its lonesome, to the battery. If the fuse blows, you've just 100% confirmed the relay is bad; replace it.Good luck; hope it's something simple like the battery or connections. Keep us posted.
Thanks pchonda. After putting the battery on a full charge overnight, the next day I tried bypassing the starter relay as you described. Using some jumper cables that I had, I went from the battery directly to the starter. The starter gear popped up and appeared to work as advertised. Now knowing that the starter was good, I just could not accept the fact that given how "new" this motor was, and the low hours that were on it, that Honda would produce a product that would have a failure so early in its service life. My previous experience with Honda products is that they have been pretty much bullet proof. So I decided to disconnect all the wiring from the battery to the motor and check, clean, and tighten all terminals, posts, and wire connections I could see. I also traced the wires coming off the starter relay. Besides a wire that went to ground, there was another wire coming off the starter relay that had a plug connector on one end that that was plugged into another wire located under a plastic shield on the right side of the engine. This shield covered a multitude of different wire connections coming off various components on the engine. That plug connector from the relay was somewhat loose on the wire (more than I thought it should be) so I replaced the connector making sure it was crimped tightly down on the wire leading from the relay.After checking that all connections were "tight and brite", that postives went to positives, negatives to negatives, etc., I then hooked a garden hose up to the motor, hooked up the gas line, held my breath and crossed my fingers, and turned the key. After a few tries (the motor had not been run since summer), the engine came to life and everything now seems to be working fine. Don't know what one thing I might have done to fix my problem, but I can't argue with the results. My hat is off to you pchonda. You gave the help and information that allowed me to troubleshoot this problem and avoid a repair fee. Thank-you so much for your patience and thoughtfulness in giving me a plan of action to try in fixing this problem. If our paths ever cross, I will buy you a drink of your choice. In the meantime, have a virtual beer on me.
Good job, kokonee! Give yourself a pat on the back - you did all the work and fixed the problem. I appreciate the kind words and hope that any help I may have provided will be returned to me if I ever need it. If we cross paths, we'll go fishing, then have a brew! Enjoy your boating; I get to do it year-round, hope you do too. Aloha.