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Umatilla Matt

Intermittent Starting Problem

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Umatilla Matt

Hi Crew,

My 97' Sunsetter LX has an intermittent starting problem that I've been dealing with for several months now. I'll turn the key to start, but the starter will do nothing. I've tested the ignition, and it is working properly. The fuel pump is also coming on and I can hear the starter solenoid clicking when I turn the key to start. I've looked at all the connections and they appear to be fine/clean.

The way I've been dealing with this is to keep turning the key from "On" to "Start" and back until the motor finally cranks. Sometimes it cranks without an issue.

Does anyone have any idea what this could be? I'm hoping it's not the starter itself.

Any help on this would be much appreciated!

Thanks!

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mnhays

Are you having problems with starting it up for the first time out on the water for the day? Or does it not restart while on the water? If so, that sounds a lot like vapor lock. There's a lot on the forums about vapor lock. Take a quick read around to see.

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Umatilla Matt

It is not vapor lock. I have that issue as well, so I'm familiar with it. With vapor lock, the starter will crank the motor, but the motor will sputter and die.

With the problem I am having, the motor will crank strong and run like normal, but I have to keep trying to get it to crank. This starting problem happens all the time, from when I first put my boat in the water for the day (cold engine) till I crank it to come back to the dock (hot engine).

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Pistol Pete

If your starter is orig. and you've got high hrs. It wouldn't be a bad investment to get it re-built.

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jweloc

This is stupid and simple, but probably worth mentioning. You say the connections are fine/clean, but are the battery terminals tight?

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rinconking

If your starter is orig. and you've got high hrs. It wouldn't be a bad investment to get it re-built.

:plus1:

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sbrisk

I had this problem on my Response, and it was a dirty and loose "Cannon Plug". It was so intermittent, it was frustrating. I thought it was vapor lock because of the intermitency. After cleaning it, and getting a better connection, my boat started every time. Never had a problem again.

My link

My link

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shawndoggy

If the boat isn't in neutral, the starter won't crank. Have you checked the the adjustment of the throttle, tranny cable, and neutral safety switch?

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Happy to ride

Next time your starter does not work, try tapping on the starter "soleniod" while someone holds the key in the start postion. If the starter turns over you have either a bad set of brushes in the starter or most likely the copper washer in the starter soleniod has some carbon build up on it. It happens all the time with starters. The copper washer (inside the soleniod) is what makes the contact between the post that has the battery cable connection and the other post has the short plate that goes into the starter. If you take the soleniod apart you can use a file to clean both the washer and the back side of both posts, or replace the soleniod if you are not ok with taking it apart. Make sure before trying to remove anything connected to a battery that you unhock the negitive (-) cable from the battery first.

Edited by Happy to ride

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Umatilla Matt

I had this problem on my Response, and it was a dirty and loose "Cannon Plug". It was so intermittent, it was frustrating. I thought it was vapor lock because of the intermitency. After cleaning it, and getting a better connection, my boat started every time. Never had a problem again.

I'll check out the cannon plug, but if the starter solenoid is clicking wouldn't that mean that the connection is good?

If the boat isn't in neutral, the starter won't crank. Have you checked the the adjustment of the throttle, tranny cable, and neutral safety switch?

I've played with the shifter and the kill switch. It doesn't seem to help.

Next time your starter does not work, try tapping on the starter "soleniod" while someone holds the key in the start postion. If the starter turns over you have either a bad set of brushes in the starter or most likely the copper washer in the starter soleniod has some carbon build up on it. It happens all the time with starters. The copper washer (inside the soleniod) is what makes the contact between the post that has the battery cable connection and the other post has the short plate that goes into the starter. If you take the soleniod apart you can use a file to clean both the washer and the back side of both posts, or replace the soleniod if you are not ok with taking it apart. Make sure before trying to remove anything connected to a battery that you unhock the negitive (-) cable from the battery first.

You may be onto something here. I'll check out the solenoid itself and see what's going on. I assume everything is good up until the solenoid because it is clicking. But like you said, if the contacts are corroded it would explain my problem. A solenoid is pretty cheap to replace as well. Thanks!

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shawndoggy

I'll check out the cannon plug, but if the starter solenoid is clicking wouldn't that mean that the connection is good?

I've played with the shifter and the kill switch. It doesn't seem to help.

You may be onto something here. I'll check out the solenoid itself and see what's going on. I assume everything is good up until the solenoid because it is clicking. But like you said, if the contacts are corroded it would explain my problem. A solenoid is pretty cheap to replace as well. Thanks!

It's NOT the kill switch. With the kill switch pulled the boat will crank but not fire. With the boat in gear, the boat won't crank.

You could verify that its not the neutral safety switch by verifying current to the solenoid when you turn the key. If there's current to the solenoid but no joy, then you'd have a pretty good idea that something is bad at the starter.

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Happy to ride

If you are hearing the soleniod "click", you have power going to the soleniod. The neutral saftey switch has to be working ok or you would not hear the click. The click is from the magnet part of the soleniod working, (power to the small post on the soleniod), but the carbon on the washer and back of the two larger posts will keep the voltage from the starter. The washer can rotate a little each time you use the starter and that is why it will work sometimes. A test light or ohm meter, set to the DC volt setting, used on the large post of the soleniod, check both posts, should show voltage when you here the "click". The battery side post will have power anytime the battery switch is in the on postion, the other post only when the soleniod is working right. If you have voltage on both large posts then the problem is the brushes or the windings of the starter. Time for a new one then. Good luck, let us know the out come.

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Umatilla Matt

Update:

I finally got around to working on this problem. I tested the starting solenoid under the metal cover at the rear of the engine. I had someone turn the key while I tested it. The signal wire running to the starter would sometimes have 12 volts when the key was turned to start, and sometimes it would have only 3 volts. I'm thinking that this solenoid may be my problem since it is acting inconsistently. I believe there is another solenoid on the starter itself. That one is a lot more money, so hopefully the $25 one I've tested is the one that's bad.

Thanks!

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Umatilla Matt

Problem solved!

The new solenoid and cleaning some connections did the trick! I've been out twice now with no issues. Thanks to everyone who offered their 2 cents!

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