Troubleshooting Outboard Starting & Ignition Problems

Here at, we’ve published multiple videos and articles on troubleshooting all kinds of problems with outboard motors, including starting and ignition problems.

Outboard Starting Ignition Problems Troubleshooting

What we haven’t done is put our series of related videos we’ve published on our YouTube channel into one page. For your convenience, we’ve compiled our video series of outboard starting/ignition troubleshooting problems into one post. Here’s a list of a variety of outboard starting and ignition problems, with video tips on how to troubleshoot them. 

Troubleshooting Outboard Problems: Outboard Won’t Idle

Do you have an outboard that idles and then dies? In this video, outboard engine pro John Talley shows you what to look for if your outboard dies when it’s at idle. Whether your outboard motor has a carburetor or fuel injector, that’s where you want to begin. John shows you how to work your way back through the fuel and air intake systems to find possible reasons why your outboard won’t idle properly. There’s also the ignition system, and John walks you through looking into it for possible idling issues.

Related: How to Diagnose Outboard Idling Problems

Troubleshooting Outboard Problems: Diagnosing an Outboard That Won’t Start

What about if your outboard won’t start? In this video, John guides you through troubleshooting an outboard no-start condition. Always start with the simple stuff: the kill switch, the fuel, and the battery, all which can be the culprit for an outboard not starting. Digging a little deeper, John runs through some of the other causes in an outboard motor that might be creating starting problems.

Related: How to Troubleshoot an Outboard No-Start Condition

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Troubleshooting Outboard Problems: Identifying Outboard Starting Issues

How do you determine the reason(s) your outboard won’t start? In this video, John provides a quick checklist of things to address for an outboard no-start condition. This includes checking the throttle position, the switch, the electrical system basics, and whether the outboard motor is getting fuel. John also covers an essential test for checking the health of an outboard engine if you can’t get it to start.

Related: My Outboard Won’t Start: What to Check First

Troubleshooting Outboard Problems: Outboard Has Spark But Won’t Start

What happens if your outboard motor has a spark but won’t start? This video covers checking the fuses, switches, ignition coils, the stator, and the regulator-rectifier, to troubleshoot outboard ignition problems. As always, it’s best to begin with the simple stuff, and the main fuse on the ignition is a good starting point. After covering the simpler stuff, John digs a little deeper into troubleshooting ignition problems.

Related: Troubleshooting an Outboard Ignition System

Troubleshooting Outboard Problems: How to Test an Outboard Stator

How do you know if the stator on your outboard has gone bad? In this video, John shows you two tests for checking an outboard stator: a static test, and a live test with a known outboard stator output value to compare results. Both tests measure across the three coils that make up the stator, plus resistance in the static test and AC volts in the live test.

Related: How to Test an Outboard Motor’s Stator

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Buy outboard regulator-rectifiers

Troubleshooting Outboard Problems: How to Test an Outboard Regulator-Rectifier

What if your outboard has a bad regulator-rectifier? The most basic symptom of a bad regulator rectifier is a battery that won’t charge. In this video, John shows you how to test an outboard engine’s regulator-rectifier. Besides the battery not charging, there are other signs the regulator-rectifier has failed. Before testing the voltage regulator, start with the simple stuff. Check the connections for corrosion and damaged wires, and test the battery itself. A regulator rectifier smooths out the AC current from the stator and rotor, and turns it into DC current. When one of the voltage regulator’s six diodes fail, these tests will help you find and fix the problem.

Related: How to Test an Outboard Regulator-Rectifier

Troubleshooting Outboard Problems: How to Test Outboard Spark Plugs

In this video, John shows you how to evaluate what condition outboard spark plugs are in and how to test them. A spark plug’s appearance can tell you if an outboard engine is running too rich or too lean. It can also give an indication of whether you have bad rings or a bad fuel mix in the engine. See how to make sure the spark plug is getting electricity and producing a spark, and how to tell if the spark you’re seeing is enough to power your outboard engine.

Related: How to Test Outboard Motor Spark Plugs