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Slow / hesitant starter - double-check my troubleshooting? Relay/Solenoid?


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I'll try to make this quick. Did some searching and was lead in the right direction, but still need a touch of advice.

Boat: 2006 23LSV w/ 5.7L 340 Monsoon

Issue: the starter is very hesitant / sluggish when starting. Like... turn key, *engine turns over slowly once and pauses* one more second *engine turns over slowly then pauses* then one more second *engine starts turning over easily/more quickly and then catches and starts without trouble. It acts like it's not getting enough voltage (like the battery is super low on a charge) but once you get past the first one or two super sluggish turnover's it fires right up.

Troubleshooting so far - tried both batteries (house and start) The start battery seems to do a little better since it has more cca's, but it still can have a delay to it. They're both charged and put out good power.

I put a volt meter on the starter. Sitting still, it's getting a constant 12.5v, then when you hit the key to start it, the voltage drops and gets super sporadic. 5v, 8v, 7v. Unfortunately I've never put a volt meter to a starter, so I don't know if you normally experience a fluctuation quite like that. Unfortunately the boat is dry stacked an hour north of me, and closes before I get out of work - otherwise I would troubleshoot it a little more. But - I'd like to order some parts this week so I can have them up there with me this weekend.

Anyone know where the relay is on these things? Should I grab a relay, and a solenoid for the starter? Or start by chasing all the grounds I can find and check all the wires on the back side of the switch?

Thanks in advance. 

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At first glance, I would have said you probably have a bad cell in one of your batteries.  Just to be safe, make sure you have tried it in all three positions (1, 2, and both) .  Based on your post, since you are seeing the behavior on both batteries, I'd think you are probably looking at a starter or solenoid issue.  I'd have both handy when you go.  Keep in mind, you need marine grade for those items.  In addition, I'd be checking my wires going to the starter and alternator to make sure they aren't corroded or loose in any way.  They can corrode in the solderless clamps and look fine, but break off as soon as you wiggle them.  Luckily, most possible issues for you are easily accessible and not too terribly expensive. 

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I have tried all three positions.

I wish I had checked all the wires while I was there, but I ran out of time and had to put up for the day. The voltage fluctuation is really what I'm wondering about. Is it normal?

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It can be.  The starter has a pretty strong draw on the battery.  That is usually indicative of a bad cell, but it isn't likely that both would have bad cells.  Did you check the voltage when using all the perko settings, or just during one test?  

I'd see if you could borrow a battery from the marina and try a fresh one.  Disconnect both of yours and just try theirs.  I'd have a new starter with me and if the battery didn't do the trick, I'd check for loose wires/connections, then I'd swap your starter.  Some starters have the solenoid built in, others have them externally.  I can't remember on a 2006, but I'll see if I can pull the Malibu shop manual for that year.  I should still have it. 

If your contacts in the starter are bad/dirty, it can cause them to be weak.  You could take it apart and rebuild it, but as cheap as they are, I'd just get one from bakes and be done.

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I think I'm going to just snag a starter and call it a day. I need one on hand anyway, eventually it will go bad. 

I didn't think to test voltage on each battery, unfortunately. The batteries both hold a good charge, I had them both tested at the start of the year. And the day after the issue started I ran the stereo on the house battery for several hours (loudly) and actually used the house battery to still start it - it didn't start any faster or slower than earlier in the day. Not to say that a battery can't still be bad, but it's lower on my list of suspects.


I think you're probably right. A bad connection somewhere seems possible. 

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Before you spend a single dollar on this remove all the cables and clean the connections, both on the batteries and the starter.  Will save you time troubleshooting other expensive hardware...

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Please report back if/when you find a solution.  My 04 does the same thing.  Turn the key to start and the starter will engage and start to turn the engine over, then stops in its tracks.  Turn the key back to the off position, key back up wait for the fuel pump to prime, turn to start and she will fire right up.  

Doesn't do it every time, sometimes it just a bit of a sluggish start.  Sometimes no hesitation and fires right up.

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Does it do it when it's hot or cold or both? If it was me I would say something electrical lie above BUT my buddy had the same deal when hot. It turned out the start was bad. 

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  • 11 months later...
On 7/19/2016 at 8:50 AM, ibelonginprison said:

I'll start yankin' wires this weekend! lol 

Ever find a solution to your problem?  Was it the starter or batteries?

Mine has progressively become worse. Think I will swap out the starter or at least buy one to have on hand.  

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8 hours ago, blk93jeepzj said:

Ever find a solution to your problem?  Was it the starter or batteries?

Mine has progressively become worse. Think I will swap out the starter or at least buy one to have on hand.  

Ended up being the batteries. They were slowly getting more and more drained.


I added a 3 bank, 20v charger and keep it plugged up - that sucker cranks right up every time.

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