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Low voltage alarm causing limp mode


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31 replies to this topic

#1
cyoda44

cyoda44
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First let me say that I have been very reluctant to voice my continuing issue here.... but here goes.

I have owned 2 Malibu boats and have loved them both. My first was a V ride that had a couple of warranty issues but where taken care of quickly by my dealer. Then my V Ride developed cracks in the top shell and had to go back to the factory for repair. While they had my boat for over 4 months (wintertime, so no problem) I decided to upgrade to my dream boat ... an 09 VTX.

Almost immediately after delivery (within 5 hrs) a problem developed. The electronics would sense a low voltage alarm and go into limp mode. (I was at least able to take my guests and family back to the dock without being towed) I took it back to the dealer and they checked it out. They said the throttle control assembly was the cause and it was replaced. This same problem happened and I had a total of 3 different assemblies put on the boat. At the end of 2009 the problem still was going on, so Malibu took the boat to the factory to do a ECU upgrade, Throttle control, and Gel coat repair. I had the (paid) factory to install a front ballast while they had the boat. It was still winter when I received the boat back, so it went into heated storage.

In April of 2010 I dewinterized the boat and all seemed to be ok. Then within another 10-20 hours of use the problem returned. A common day on the lake would be unload the boat, cross fingers that it would work today, but it always showed up at some point. When it went into limp mode, I could stop, turn the boat off, disconnect the batteries and start the engine again. (I have a battery disconnect switch) I would say 60% of the time this would clear the fault and the boat would not return to limp mode. Some times it would take a couple of tries to clear the fault. Also some of the time the boat would sense a fault but not go into limp mode, but ooh the beeping fault alarm would have to be reset.... time and time again. I believe I took the boat back to my dealer a total of 5 times in 2010... could be more, I lost count. (200 miles round trip)

I had finally had enough embarrassment for one season, so at the end of September I took the boat back to my dealer and ask them to fix it.....Please!

Thats where i am now... the last thing I was told was.... Malibu has 3 boats that are doing the exact same thing. Malibu and Inmar are fighting over who is responsible and they have created a special ECU program to correct the problem. My dealer is waiting on their ECU upgrade cable to be repaired so they can load the program and test it.

Malibu is the only brand of boat I personally have owned. My family has always had a boat. Growing up my dad had some type of ski boat for us to use. Then my older brother kept the family tradition going with many Ski Natique and MasterCraft. I broke the family tradition going with a Malibu. (maybe I was wrong)

At this point I am disillusioned with malibu.... not able to fix what they build.

My feeling about my purchase of a Malibu product:

I regret every purchasing either boat.
Feel like I was robbed of my hard earned money.
Taken advantage of by believing that people would back up their product.
Not willing to go through another season of embarrassment {new boat and while on the lake my brothers come check on me... (You broke down yet is the common phrase)}
Really want to hire a lawyer to try to recoup some of my dignity. (but I'm not that type of person) (wonder if I can get pain and suffering)

OK guys... now you know and thanks for letting me vent.

ADD: I forgot to add that they replaced the rear engine wiring harness also...

Edited by cyoda44, March 05, 2011 - 10:49 AM.


#2
WakingMeHappy

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To say the least...wow. Sounds like you have put up with this for way too long. I would think, at this point, Malibu should stop thowing parts at it and be well underway in replacing your boat.

#3
NorCaliBu

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You're a lot calmer about it than I would be. :yes:

1st time = OK. Take it back and get it fixed.

2nd time = Now I'm irritated. Fix it right this time!!

3rd time = I'm in someone's face and it ain't compliments I'm hurling. :tomato:

I do not blame you for wanting to get away from the boat and away from the brand. I would too. I don't like hearing that Malibu / Indmar / the dealer haven't stepped up to make things right. For the ridiculous money they charge for newer boats they damn well shouldn't have these kinds of continuing problems.

Good luck in getting it fixed, sold, and with your future boat(s).

#4
Bobby Light

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I had a similar issue once, the ground or 12v+ (can't remember now which) kept working its way loose back at the engine.. hope its not something this easy that they overlooked.

Seems like if they replaced the ecm its not a software issue.

Edited by 06vlx, March 05, 2011 - 10:28 AM.


#5
Pistol Pete

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Wherever the boat is now, tell them to keep it.
Contact a lemon law attorney (I can give you one in this area that might be able to give you one in your area).
Have the attorney call Malibu. I bet things start happening real quick.

#6
Lance B. Johnson

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Wherever the boat is now, tell them to keep it.
Contact a lemon law attorney (I can give you one in this area that might be able to give you one in your area).
Have the attorney call Malibu. I bet things start happening real quick.

I like this advice....

I will add that it is all luck of the draw. You just got the short end......EVERY manufacture will have had issues like this. Some more than others....still I believe you should have a new boat.

#7
Ceesub

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I like this advice....

I will add that it is all luck of the draw. You just got the short end......EVERY manufacture will have had issues like this. Some more than others....still I believe you should have a new boat.


:plus1:

#8
Bake's Marine

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Ugh! I just spent a hour replying to this post and something timed out so when I hit reply it deleted everything I wrote!

In nut shell, hang in there, and be persistant. Find out steps being taken and a date that they or you will followu up. If its not acceptable, let them know that.

I've seen a similar problem more than once so I will re-write my post later, my family calls!

-Paul

#9
scfdfireman

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My bu had similar symptoms and even started throwing random engine codes. It started just after installing a battery switch and dual batteries. I noticed that you mentioned a battery switch in your first post and it may be related to the same voltage issue that I experienced. The dealer insisted that it wasn't a battery switch, cable or battery issue (especially since both batteries were new and tested OK). Unfortunately, after resetting the stored codes it would reset different codes at random times during the next outing.

After three trips (2 hours one way) back to the dealer and numerous calls to the malibu tech I decided to do some troubleshooting myself. I just started with what was altered since the problem developed. The cables from the batteries to the switch were huge (double 00), the terminals were big copper ends that were crimped and soldered, the switch was brand new and showed no real resistance, but the original cables that ran from the battery to the motor (starter and ground) were small (2 gauge). I just ran two additional 2 gauge cables alongside the stock ones and the problem went away. When I called the dealer they couldn't believe that was the problem. However, it seems that the stock cables were marginal to begin with and perhaps the minor resistance in the new set-up caused enough of a voltage drop to set the random codes and to go into the limp mode. Your bu may have come with the battery switch, but the wire size or another variable in the starting system may be minimal. It's worth a try to run two extra wires from the battery switch or main battery back to the motor.

Edited by scfdfireman, March 07, 2011 - 07:59 AM.


#10
J-Ro

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I am currently having this issue. Same details as you say but I am still at the start of diagnosing the issue. I am about to change the batteries and inspect the wiring from them to the Perko and back to the engine. Seems like the issue is not ECU or throttle related. Please update the thread with what you find because this could help a lot of other '09 owners. Thanks

#11
Bobby Light

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My bu had similar symptoms and even started throwing random engine codes. It started just after installing a battery switch and dual batteries. I noticed that you mentioned a battery switch in your first post and it may be related to the same voltage issue that I experienced. The dealer insisted that it wasn't a battery switch, cable or battery issue (especially since both batteries were new and tested OK). Unfortunately, after resetting the stored codes it would reset different codes at random times during the next outing.

After three trips (2 hours one way) back to the dealer and numerous calls to the malibu tech I decided to do some troubleshooting myself. I just started with what was altered since the problem developed. The cables from the batteries to the switch were huge (double 00), the terminals were big copper ends that were crimped and soldered, the switch was brand new and showed no real resistance, but the original cables that ran from the battery to the motor (starter and ground) were small (2 gauge). I just ran two additional 2 gauge cables alongside the stock ones and the problem went away. When I called the dealer they couldn't believe that was the problem. However, it seems that the stock cables were marginal to begin with and perhaps the minor resistance in the new set-up caused enough of a voltage drop to set the random codes and to go into the limp mode. Your bu may have come with the battery switch, but the wire size or another variable in the starting system may be minimal. It's worth a try to run two extra wires from the battery switch or main battery back to the motor.



2006 IIRC was the last year Malibu used the undersized 2awg charge cable from the alternator. All the newer boats 2007+ IIRC already have 2/0 awg cable now.

#12
Bake's Marine

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First off, I'm sorry to hear about your problems and frustrations about your bu'. Intermittent problems are very frustrating with all parties involved but is hardest on you since it feels like your stuck with it since you own the boat. Know that Indmar & Malibu do care about you being happy withe boat so my suggestion to you is hang in there and stay persistent on the issue. Find a date and time that they will follow up with you on the issue and keep moving forward. Sometimes intermittent issues are very difficult to diagnose. I can't tell you how many times somebody has said they have a problem and we've had the the boat in the shop and everything checks out fine. We lake test the boat to double check, and its fine. Then 2 weeks later we get the phone call saying it happened again. At that point its a educated process of elimination on what parts can cause the problem which it sounds like they are in the process of doing.

From what they've done it sounds like the fault code you are getting is a low voltage (TPS Throttle Position Sensor) or Low Voltage Pedal Position fault code? Otherwise I don't know why they would replace the throttle.

Ever since 2008 the boats have been very sensitive to low voltage, I hate to make suggestions since i'm not working on the boat but if you have paperwork showing what has been done and what hasn't been done you can make sure they checked these VERY common problems I see:
  • Batteries Appropriate Size - 650 Marine cranking Amps minimum
  • Battery Lugs all tight (can not be moved by hand if you grab the cable)
  • Main Ground on block and main positive tight on engine starter
  • Main Power and ground block under dash and on Breaker Panel Tight
  • Verify Alternator output same value as dash voltage
  • Re-Flashing Engine ECM Calibration
Some not so common repairs I've seen fix this problem
  • After A LOT of diagnosis we determined that the Transmission Temperature switch had shorted partially dropping the engines 5V sensor reference voltage (creating random low voltage fault codes) with different sensors
  • Different boat after A LOT of diagnosis and after trying a few things, the Engine ECM ended up being the culprit which is very rare, turns out everything was fine on the boat but it kept displaying the low voltage issues.
My advice if they are putting a effort, work with them and give them the chance. The lawyer move usually doesn't help so I wouldn't do that unless its your last resort.

I wish you the best and hope they sort it out, hang in there!

-Paul

PS: If you know what your fault codes are, post them up.

#13
D-GOOSE

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You're a lot calmer about it than I would be. :yes:


3rd time = I'm in someone's face and it ain't compliments I'm hurling. :tomato:



You??? :shocked:

J-ro Glad you seen this post.l

#14
Lance B. Johnson

Lance B. Johnson
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My bu had similar symptoms and even started throwing random engine codes. It started just after installing a battery switch and dual batteries. I noticed that you mentioned a battery switch in your first post and it may be related to the same voltage issue that I experienced. The dealer insisted that it wasn't a battery switch, cable or battery issue (especially since both batteries were new and tested OK). Unfortunately, after resetting the stored codes it would reset different codes at random times during the next outing.

After three trips (2 hours one way) back to the dealer and numerous calls to the malibu tech I decided to do some troubleshooting myself. I just started with what was altered since the problem developed. The cables from the batteries to the switch were huge (double 00), the terminals were big copper ends that were crimped and soldered, the switch was brand new and showed no real resistance, but the original cables that ran from the battery to the motor (starter and ground) were small (2 gauge). I just ran two additional 2 gauge cables alongside the stock ones and the problem went away. When I called the dealer they couldn't believe that was the problem. However, it seems that the stock cables were marginal to begin with and perhaps the minor resistance in the new set-up caused enough of a voltage drop to set the random codes and to go into the limp mode. Your bu may have come with the battery switch, but the wire size or another variable in the starting system may be minimal. It's worth a try to run two extra wires from the battery switch or main battery back to the motor.

IIRC- Shawdoggy had another issue that was related to the undersized wiring. Certainly something to check for those of us with older boats.

#15
cyoda44

cyoda44
  • Spotter Extraordinaire
  • 417 posts
  • Joined February 22, 2009
  • Location: Tennessee
  • Boat: 2009 VTX Wake

First off, I'm sorry to hear about your problems and frustrations about your bu'. Intermittent problems are very frustrating with all parties involved but is hardest on you since it feels like your stuck with it since you own the boat. Know that Indmar & Malibu do care about you being happy withe boat so my suggestion to you is hang in there and stay persistent on the issue. Find a date and time that they will follow up with you on the issue and keep moving forward. Sometimes intermittent issues are very difficult to diagnose. I can't tell you how many times somebody has said they have a problem and we've had the the boat in the shop and everything checks out fine. We lake test the boat to double check, and its fine. Then 2 weeks later we get the phone call saying it happened again. At that point its a educated process of elimination on what parts can cause the problem which it sounds like they are in the process of doing.

From what they've done it sounds like the fault code you are getting is a low voltage (TPS Throttle Position Sensor) or Low Voltage Pedal Position fault code? Otherwise I don't know why they would replace the throttle.

Ever since 2008 the boats have been very sensitive to low voltage, I hate to make suggestions since i'm not working on the boat but if you have paperwork showing what has been done and what hasn't been done you can make sure they checked these VERY common problems I see:

  • Batteries Appropriate Size - 650 Marine cranking Amps minimum
  • Battery Lugs all tight (can not be moved by hand if you grab the cable)
  • Main Ground on block and main positive tight on engine starter
  • Main Power and ground block under dash and on Breaker Panel Tight
  • Verify Alternator output same value as dash voltage
  • Re-Flashing Engine ECM Calibration
Some not so common repairs I've seen fix this problem
  • After A LOT of diagnosis we determined that the Transmission Temperature switch had shorted partially dropping the engines 5V sensor reference voltage (creating random low voltage fault codes) with different sensors
  • Different boat after A LOT of diagnosis and after trying a few things, the Engine ECM ended up being the culprit which is very rare, turns out everything was fine on the boat but it kept displaying the low voltage issues.
My advice if they are putting a effort, work with them and give them the chance. The lawyer move usually doesn't help so I wouldn't do that unless its your last resort.

I wish you the best and hope they sort it out, hang in there!

-Paul

PS: If you know what your fault codes are, post them up.


I personally checked all the things on your list, except reflashiing the ECM and the dealer did that....

I do not know what code is being sent... Malivue shows the low voltage alarm and tells you about it!

#16
Pistol Pete

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I'm no boat mechanic but, I certainly hope that someone realizes that there's a BIG difference between measuring resistance in a wire and measuring voltage drop. And, testing that is VERY involved.

#17
J-Ro

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cyoda44-
I can't tell by what you have said but do you have the Malivue? If so what is the fault code description? It's the last option in the setup menu.

#18
cyoda44

cyoda44
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cyoda44-
I can't tell by what you have said but do you have the Malivue? If so what is the fault code description? It's the last option in the setup menu.


Yes I have Malivue. It's been so long I don't remember except it was in the active faults menu.... low voltage was the alarm. I had to become very familiar with the alarm reset function.

#19
Bake's Marine

Bake's Marine
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I personally checked all the things on your list, except reflashiing the ECM and the dealer did that....
I do not know what code is being sent... Malivue shows the low voltage alarm and tells you about it!


If its putting the boat into RPM reduction mode its throwing a code. If you go into setup on Maliview, at the very bottom there is engine diagnostics. There is a inactive and active fault code list. If the code is active (which i doubt it is since its intermintent) look in the inactive list and write down all the info so I can try to help.

I'm no boat mechanic but, I certainly hope that someone realizes that there's a BIG difference between measuring resistance in a wire and measuring voltage drop. And, testing that is VERY involved.


There is is a difference, but its not very involved to check a wire. Here is how you do both:

Resistance: Set Meter to Ohms resistance disconnect cable on each end, put one lead on one end, put the other lead on the other end. Meter will be showing you the cables only resistance.
Voltage Drop: Remove terminals, get refrerence voltage at battery (meter set to V-DC). Go back to Starter or part you want to measure voltage drop at (in Cyoda's case you would want to check reference voltage going into the ECM Plug). Put black lead on ground and the other lead on the posistive. Subtract the component voltage from reference voltage and you now have voltage drop. We use voltage drop test for engine cranking healt more than anything, if it drops pass 9V your battery or starter need some love.

Pretty basic stuff if you have a decent $100 multi-meter

Hope this helps you out!

-Paul

#20
Lance B. Johnson

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If its putting the boat into RPM reduction mode its throwing a code. If you go into setup on Maliview, at the very bottom there is engine diagnostics. There is a inactive and active fault code list. If the code is active (which i doubt it is since its intermintent) look in the inactive list and write down all the info so I can try to help.



There is is a difference, but its not very involved to check a wire. Here is how you do both:

Resistance: Set Meter to Ohms resistance disconnect cable on each end, put one lead on one end, put the other lead on the other end. Meter will be showing you the cables only resistance.
Voltage Drop: Remove terminals, get refrerence voltage at battery (meter set to V-DC). Go back to Starter or part you want to measure voltage drop at (in Cyoda's case you would want to check reference voltage going into the ECM Plug). Put black lead on ground and the other lead on the posistive. Subtract the component voltage from reference voltage and you now have voltage drop. We use voltage drop test for engine cranking healt more than anything, if it drops pass 9V your battery or starter need some love.

Pretty basic stuff if you have a decent $100 multi-meter

Hope this helps you out!

-Paul

Paul,

How low does the voltage need to go before the code is set?

Am I correct in thinking that the problem has to be in either the cranking/ charging circuit, or the B+ circuit to the ECU?

Also if it is truely intermittent it will be difficult to find since the tech will have to be conducting the voltage drop test at the time the circuit is failing. I would be tempted to backprobe the B+ terminal at the ECU and conduct a wiggle test on the harness......

Edited by Ruffdog, March 10, 2011 - 07:35 AM.





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