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97 Malibu Response LX tack and leaking water

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i just got a 97 Malibu Response LX with efi and some times the tack is wrong when its running at idel the tack will read about 3000 and the motor is only running about 900 rpm WHY then it will come back to read correctly and do it over and over again also the boat is taking on water i think from the rudder shaft how can i fix this??? thank you

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Have you actually seen where the water is seeping in? There are many different locations water could be coming in.

1. The stuffing box - doesn't sound like that's the case here.

2. The HDS box. Hopefully this is not the problem - especially if you didn't transfer the hull warranty.

3. Around the rudder. I would expect if there were any issues here it would be due to damage and would either manifest itself in poor rudder response or that you'd be able to see some damage from outside the boat. Maybe I'm wrong here.

4. The seam where the deck and bottom of the hull meet. There have been people that have seen this happen and found very small gaps where water flows through. Sealing it up with silicone has done the trick. Given that a Sportster sits a bit lower in the water that could be the case here.

5. Where any hardware is through bolted through the stern. There's been some posts regarding the bow eye not being completely tight on some boats (specifically RLXi's). I guess that could be occuring here.

If you aren't completely sure of where it's leaking one thing you may want to consider doing is fulling up the bilge with water to just over the HDS box and then looking for the leak from the outside. That would help to at least rule out the rudder and HDS.


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If I remember this correctly... HDS = Hydrophonic Dampening System. It's a box that fills with water that surrounds the prop shaft. Malibu used to use it as a marketing tool stating that it provided a smoother ride, etc...

Doing a search on HDS will provide a bunch of hits. Below is just one of them.


When an HDS failure occurs it is generaly early in the life of a boat rather than 8 years later. The only reason I brought it up was because you stated it appeared to be coming in around the rudder, which the HDS box is just in front of, and it is a new boat to you, so you wouldn't know the history of the boat, etc...


Edited by mlange
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I have seen a few tachs of that vintage do exactly what you are experiencing. The solution is to replace the tach, my buddy replaced his with a VDO tach from Overton's or a similar supplier.

As mentioned, normally the "water leak" on a tournament boat is the packing around the driveshaft. Certainly the rudder shaft could develop a leak if the seal is bad. You might check to make sure there is the proper amount of grease on the shaft, there is a grease zert just below the steering arm. It is a routine maintenance item.

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