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several interesting issues

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We bought a new (to us) 98 sunsetter vlx this summer and we are having a blast with it. However, just like any boat it has a few quirks that need a bit of advice from this all knowing community if possible.

First and most concerning is the transmission. One time we were out and cruising along at 25 when it made a distinct metallic grinding noise for about 5 seconds and then went away and never happened again. Then when we took it out last week after a flawless day on the lake we were cruising home and I decided to open it up to 40mph and the tranny sounded awful. Kind of a high pitched whine. When I backed it down to 32 it went away. The only mechanic in our area is at least 4 weeks out before he can look at it so any advice would be welcome.

Secondly and less of an issue is the Perfect Pass pro. Occasionally while under way it will turn itself on and off every 30 seconds or so. To remedy this I have to turn the boat off and then on. This fixes it until the next time. Inconsistent problems are almost impossible to trace. I don't even know where to start looking. I have checked all connections.

And lastly, is there a way to check the amps going to the battery while the engine is running? We were having a problem with the batteries going dead last week and one mechanic immediately said the alternator was bad. The main engine battery went dead mid day so we switched the battery switch to ALL. Then that battery went dead as well. When we were back at the dock I charged the first battery till full. Then on the second (engine only) battery it came up bad on my meter so it was replaced. I don't have an amp meter on my boat (just volts) so it is difficult to tell what is happening down there. My limited understanding is that a bad battery will draw down the other bat. to the same minimal level. Hopefully we have this fixed with the new bat. but I don't want to chance it as we will be on a lake with very few people and no services next week.

Thanks in advance for any advice.


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Well that tranny doesn't sound good. I would start with a fluid change for both the transmission and V-drive, inspect the oil for metal shavings and fill back up to proper level.

I'm guessing your PP issue may be tied with your battery issue. Sounds like you are not charging, and yes if you have one dead battery and one good one and switch to "all" you will end up with two half charged batteries that can't do anything. I would ensure all cable crimps and connections are good and clean, on the starter, alternator, and battery connections. You can check amp draw with a multimeter.

Also any NAPA should be able to bench test your alternator, but you'd have to replace with a marine one.


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Wow, thanks for the quick response. This may sound like a dumb question but can I use the multimeter at the leads going to the first battery or does it have to come from the alternator location. Bench testing the alternator is not an option. Being a v drive it is difficult to remove and replace unless you are 5 feet tall and getting a multimeter on it while in the water could prove difficult as well.

The fluid in the tranny is very clean and at optimum levels from the dip stick. Draining might be a better way of seeing debris. What is the best way to drain the tranny and v drive?


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How about the V-drive fluid?

You can measure draw from the battery.

And removing the alternator isn't that hard!

You need an oil extractor to get the tranny and v-drive fluid out.

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The v drive fluid looks perfect as well and all levels are fine. I am wondering if it might not be something other than the drives. Shaft issue perhaps? Prop edge being too sharp? I don't have an extractor but I was thinking of getting one to do the engine. Does anyone know an approximate number of quarts of oil needed to fill the drive and tranny?

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I had a similar sound recently and thought it was the tranny. Turns out, it was the shaft. The bearing where the shaft enters bracket (under the boat, near the prop) was loose and was even missing a screw. They tightened it down and sound was gone. Check that out.

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I have checked everything and it all still looks fine. I had a suggestion from a friend that it might be the prop that is making the whine. He said that when the prop gets sharp on the leading edge over time it will make a high pitched noise at top end speeds that transmits back into the boat and sounds like a tranny problem. I am going to round it over a bit and see if that helps.

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