Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top 10 Reasons Boats Break Down (Part 1)

..and How You Can Fix It and Prevent It From Happening Again

One of the worst things that could happen while you are out on the water trying to have a good time is your boat breaking down. Just like with a car, there are many different things that can go wrong. Your only choice may be to ask for help from either a towing company or a fellow boater. However, in some instances a prepared captain may be able to make the necessary repairs to at least get the boat back to your Lake of the Ozarks boat lift.  BoatingMagazine.com interviewed a group of respected boat mechanics to come up with the 10 most common reasons boats break down, as well as what it would take to fix the problem and prevent future ones from occurring.

1. Sputtering and Losing Power

If your boat feels like its running low on power but you still have plenty of fuel, you most likely have a problem with your filter or spark plugs.  The solution to this problem is to replace the fuel filter; its a good idea to keep an extra one on board along with a filter wrench in case you get caught in this situation. If you don't have one with you, the next best thing to do is clean out the filter to remove any debris and drain any accumulated water.  Afterward, be sure to vent the engine box thoroughly before restarting it.  If you forget this very important step, you will have bigger problems than just a clogged filter. Although its possible to get a bad batch of fuel, its more likely that it went bad while in your boat. Leaving your tank low on fuel for a long period of time causes condensation and water in the gas.  If your boat is going to sit for awhile, you should consider adding a fuel stabilizer and then be sure to run the boat long enough to get the treated gas into the engine as well.

2. Broken Belt 

You probably won't hear the sound of the belt actually breaking, but you will know something is wrong when your overheat warning light comes on or your voltage meter shows that the alternator isn't charging.  This problem can shut you down in a hurry because you'll no longer have an alternator or water pump.  Although there are many videos and other info out there about jury-rigging a temporary belt with fishing line or pantyhose, it makes sense just to keep an extra belt on board.  To prevent this problem from occurring while you are out on the water, you should inspect, tighten and dress the belt before you take off.  You also might want to check the condition of the pulleys' contact surfaces because corrosion can cause rough spots on the pulleys that will eat away your brand new belt.

3. Engine is Overheating

If the temperature gauge is rising, it almost always means you have a lack of water flow in the cooling loop.  Most boats don't have radiators like your car, instead they use the water they are floating on to cool the engine.  If that water stops flowing, the engine heats up and ultimately it will fail.  To solve this problem, trace the source; in many cases, the problem is an obstruction in the raw water intake such as weeds, mud or a plastic bag.  If you locate the intake and clean it out, that will most likely solve your issue.  Be sure to carry a soft wire or rod to snake intake clogs. To prevent this from happening in the future, its important to regularly service and replace the impeller.  You should check for any scarring or pitting of the metal housing because that can cause even a good impeller to lose pumping power. Also, have the mechanic check the exhaust system.

4. Won't Start

You know the frustration of turning an ignition key and hearing nothing.  This is most likely an electrical issue, possibly a low or dead battery or a break somewhere in the ignition circuit.  First thing to do is check the kill switch.  Make sure the shifter is in neutral and pay special attention to the starter switch.  Sometimes the dashboard mounter will become loose causing the entire switch mechanism to turn with the key.  Fixing this type of problem can be as simple as getting behind the dash and tightening up a retaining nut or mounting screws.  If the starter groans but won't engage, it could be a low battery, but it also might be a loose or poor connection.  For prevention, the key again is routine maintenance.  Inspect, clean and replace your wiring periodically.  Be sure to carry screwdrivers with insulated handles and wrenches in case you find yourself in this situation.

5. Went Dead

Hopefully, this is just a matter of someone accidentally bumping the kill switch or you're simply out of fuel.  If neither of those are the case, this usually means there's been some type of electrical failure. It could be a blown fuse, tripped breaker, loose connection or corrosion. After checking to make sure the key hasn't come loose and the kill switch for sure has not been activated, check for any loose connections.  Fiddle with the switch a bit and check its attendant breaker or fuse.  If this doesn't solve the problem, its time to move on to the engine. Corrosion is the most likely source of your problems; even boaters who contentiously maintain the battery terminals might forget the other end of those wires, which also call for the occasional cleaning.  If it turns out to be anything more than this, such as an ignition chip or an EFI engine, its probably time to call the professionals for help.  Learning the various components of the ignition system and periodically inspecting, cleaning and coating each exposed connection with an anti-corrosion product is the best way to try to prevent this problem from happening again.  Be sure to carry a wire brush on board in case you need to clean terminals.

Stay tuned next week for the next 5 points in the top 10 reasons boats break down!  If your boat is fine but you are having issues with your lift, be sure to Summerset Boat Lifts to get it serviced before it starts causing problems for your boat!  Outstanding service is what makes this Lake of the Ozarks boat lift company stand out.  We want our customers to relax knowing their boat lift needs are being handled by professionals. Summerset’s record of service after the sale is unparallel in the boat lift industry. We don’t just sell you a lift, we sell you our service.  We’re here to make certain you and your boat get the very best level of product and service at the Lake!

1165 Jeffries Road Osage Beach, MO  65065

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