Outboard won't start Verified

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Honorary Moderator Emeritus
Mar 25, 2001
Outboard Wont Start:

1. Electric start:
Does the starter engage and rotate the flywheel at a good (normal) speed?
If yes, go to 2.

Does starter spin, but bendix gear (small gear on starter shaft) does not engage the flywheel?
Lubricate bendix spiral shaft.

Does the solenoid click?
If yes, measure voltage at the starter terminal to battery ground with starter engaged.
If 12 V, repair or replace starter.
If less than 9V measure voltage at large solenoid input terminal (from battery).
If less than 9V, go to 3.
If 12V, replace solenoid.

Solenoid does not click when key is turned to start. Measure voltage at small solenoid terminal.
0 volts? Troubleshoot kill switch (lanyard connected?), battery, starter switch and neutral start switch in controller.
12 volts? Replace solenoid.

2. Electric and manual start: Flywheel rotates but engine does not attempt to start. .
Remove a spark plug, reconnect it and hold it against engine block. Keep it there while turning engine over.

Does it make a hot, blue spark when attempting to start?
If no, troubleshoot ignition system.

Has hot, blue spark?
Squirt some fuel mix (NOT ether) into the carb(s). Does it attempt to start? *
If yes, you have inadequate fuel. Troubleshoot fuel system and review starting procedure.

If no, check that carb is not flooding from failed float needle.

Still wont attempt to start. Check compression. If bad, troubleshoot mechanicals.

Good compression on all cylinders. Check flywheel for sheared key, check crankcase for sealing at carb(s), inlet manifold and bypass covers.

3. Low voltage at starter when engaged.
Measure voltage at battery terminals.
If below 12.6 volts with all electrics turned off, recharge or replace battery.

Measure battery voltage with starter engaged.
If below 9 volts, recharge or replace battery.
Remove and clean connections on battery-to-solenoid cable, battery-to-engine block cable and solenoid-to-starter cable. While they are off, inspect each for corrosion, broken insulation with corrosion and weak points.
Replace corroded or weak cables.

If problem persists, remove starter and clean all surfaces where engine block and starter connect.
Last edited:


Honorary Moderator Emeritus
Mar 25, 2001
Re: Outboard won't start

Bump. Too many people don't look on page 2
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