Quick Outboard No-Start Troubleshooting Steps

If your outboard motor won’t start, there are several things you can check to figure out the problem, from the obvious to the not-so-obvious.

When troubleshooting an outboard that won’t start, the easiest thing to do is run through the simple causes first. Watch the video above and follow the steps below to run through some potentially easy fixes for an outboard no-start scenario.

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Step 1. Check the kill switch if your outboard has one to make sure the lanyard is attached and securely in place. 

Outboard won't start kill switch

Step 2. Check if you’ve primed or choked the fuel tank to get it going.

Outboard won't start fuel bulb prime

Step 3. Check to make sure there’s fuel in the tank and that the tank is venting. If the tank can’t vent, it won’t let air in to replace the fuel the motor needs to get going.

Outboard won't start fuel tank

Step 4. Check the battery switch to make sure it’s turned on.

Outboard won't start battery switch

Step 5. Check the plug wires and the battery connections to make sure everything is connected and free of corrosion, and that the battery is charged.

Outboard won't start battery check

Step 6. Check the fuel system for pinched or kinked fuel lines that could be choking off fuel to the motor. If you find a leak or a damaged line, replace it immediately. 

Outboard won't start fuel system

Step 7. Add fuel stabilizer if you’re running a tank with ethanol fuel, since ethanol fuel attracts water, and water in the fuel can cut the fuel’s combustibility. 

Outboard won't start fuel stabilizer

Step 8. Check the water-fuel separator if your boat has one, since you might need to drain it. Also check all of the fuel filtration to make sure clogged filters aren’t keeping fuel from reaching the motor. 

Outboard won't start fuel water separator

Step 9. Check the fuel pump to make sure it isn’t clogged and that it’s sending fuel to the engine.

Outboard won't start fuel pump filter

Step 10. Check the starter solenoid. If you only hear a clicking sound when you crank it, it’s a sign the solenoid has gone bad. 

Outboard won't start solenoid

NOTE: On some units you can just swap out the solenoid, but on other models you’ll need to swap out the entire starter assembly.

Step 11. Check the main fuse to make sure it’s not burnt out, and replace it if necessary.

Outboard won't start main fuse

Still having problems starting your outboard after following these troubleshooting steps? Watch the video below for even more ways to troubleshoot an outboard that won’t start



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