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No Start / Start with rough idle and cutout


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Hey guys, due to life circumstances I had not been able to ride the boat for a good 3 months. When going out to ride in the boat I noticed upon startup that it "chugged" a little and I actually had to choke it to get it started - which is rare for me. It chugged a bit when backing off the boat lift, but ran fine after that. Next outing we went out and we ran two wakeboard sets. Switched over to surf weight and started the boat back up to hear hard chugging even in neutral. I tried choking a bit to rev throttle which made the problem worse.

With the help of a friend, verified we had spark, and by then a passerby offered a tow in which I gladly took. We checked fuel filter which we could blow through easily (wasn't plugged up) and were beginning to suspect a bad fuel pump even though i could hear it "whir up" when turning ignition on. We trailered the boat to my house and were able to work on it about 3 weeks later.

My buddy asked if I ran ethanol free and I confessed I did not. I haven't ran ethanol free my entire lifetime of the boat and never had issue. He suggested we drain the 20 gallons that were in it, and put in fresh ethanol free gas with a water remover + injection cleaner (heet is a brand that carries a product like this, red bottle). Sure enough that actually seemed to resolve the issue. Best hypothesis thus far is that since I actually had to let the boat sit for such a long period that the ethanol actually did separate and my understanding is when it does it "sinks" and is heavier than gas. This would mean the separated ethanol would accumulate near the intake and hence the boat would try to run on pure ethanol. I can attest that it does not run very well on it. It is very rare for me to leave a boat without being run for 3 months. I usually go through gas like a person drinks water and hence having ethanol gas never really hurt me before because it would be burned up so fast.

However, since this, I've decided ethanol free isn't worth it. I never know when I might have to lay up the boat for a while and being stranded in the middle of your lake is absolutely no joke. It's terrifying. I've given plenty of other people tows and felt like a white knight. It's a much scarier position to be on the receiving end and thank goodness for other people being around. I write this only to provide someone else having an issue like this something cheap to try. If it turns out this was your issue as well, landfills will recycle the gas.

It ran great with the fresh gas in it, but I am curious. If I encounter similar issues in the future, what else should I be checking? I was at the point where if this didn't work i was going to blindly start throwing parts at the problem (pump + filter) and go from there but that's terrible diagnosis practice, prevents me from learning how to properly diagnose, and is wasteful of money. Does anyone have advice of what to check next if the symptoms resurface?

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I had a boat many years ago that would require the couple bottles of heet trick after every winter layup.  I've never had a boat before or after that did.  This has made me believe is was caused by water somehow getting into the fuel tank, not by gas going bad.  I used to always carry a couple bottles of heat with me.

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Always add marine stabil everytime I fill up. There is absolutely no non-ethanol gas that I can buy. My boat sits in my garage for 6 months in the cold New England winter and I have had no problems with the ethanol in the spring. Every non- auto engine in my garage that I can't drain the fuel gets the marine stabil!  

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Sounds like you bought gas with water in it. We store hundreds of gallons of e10 for 6 months in seasonal equipment without issue. Stabil shouldn't be necessary with quality gas, it adds thimble fulls of what should already be 1-2% of the fuel volume out of the pump.

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Have you checked your distributor cap and rotor?  I had similar issues this week and it ended up being badly corroded cap contacts on the inside of the cap.  $30 and half hour of work and it runs great.  Change the spark plug wires while you're at it.

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