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2016 Wakesetter engine issue


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Hi all- I am new to this forum. I hope everyone is having a great summer so far!


I guess i am trying to figure out what is an acceptable amount of time for a new boat to spend in the shop with engine problems and what my options are in this situation... My 2016 wakesetter is having some rather disturbing noise issues in the engine/transmission and time in the shop is getting into the several week range. Its got a new transmission in it, a new drive plate, and a couple other minor attempts at a fix, but its still making a pretty obvious and disturbing noise. 

My question, i guess, is what do i do in this situation? Its prime boating time and i am missing out on weeks/weekends on the water. If its wasn't a brand new boat under warrantee it would be a different story, but it is.. 

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You are at the mercy of your dealer, Indmar and Malibu.  Unfortunately the marine industry moves quite slow compared to the automotive world.  Best advice is to keep a good relationship with dealer and good communications.  Make sure a plan is in place, hopefully they will try and hit there time line for your repairs.  Its a crazy busy time of year for them right now.  A loaner boat is a good idea but I doubt most dealers will do something like this, definitely would not hurt to ask.  It sounds like they are in process of elimination, eventually they will get the right part replaced for you.

What are your symptoms, you mentioned a noise from engine compartment?  Can you elaborate more on this.

3 hours ago, ConnollyCrew said:

I hope your issues get resolved soon. I am about to open a can of worms also, the 350 is drinking oil at the rate of approx 1qt/ 12hrs....hmmmmm

Is the engine smoking at all? Yea that seems very excessive.   What year boat and how many hours on it? My 409 uses little to none after 45-50 hours.  Some oil consumption is not unusual but you are at a very high rate.

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Well the noise sounds like a grinding somewhere when its in gear- forward only. reverse sounds like it did the day i got the boat.

basically what happened was the boat started making a grinding noise that was repetitive and so it made me think a piece of metal was somewhere it shouldn't be getting spun around somewhat rhythmically. i told my dealer that the noise was occurring, and took it to them to listen to. Unfortunately they didn't take the time to throw it in the water and put it in gear initially, and spun the prop by hand to listen and see what they could figure. at this point they told me to go ahead and keep driving it- "its covered by the warrantee".. needless to say thats not exactly the kind of answer i want- my brother has 4 small children and the last thing i want to do is strand them in the lake miles from home when its 105 degrees outside. at any rate, me and my buddies surfed behind the boat for a few more days, all the while the noise was getting louder and louder. after a couple days of this, me and my buddy looked at each other and decided that although we are not mechanics, something much worse is going to happen if we keep driving it and damage has GOT to be occurring in other parts of the engine from the vibration going on. 

at this point i pull the boat out of the water, take it to my dealer and basically said guys... theres something wrong. please figure it out. they call indmar and play a recording of the noise that was going on. indmar says "STOP DRIVING IT IMMEDIATELY! we know whats going on" and they send over a new transmission. stop driving it immediately isn't the answer i would expect someone to give after Id been told to just go on and keep driving it..  evidently this was something that might should have been recalled (at least thats what my dealer told me). new transmission gets put in. Noise is still there. They replace the drive plate and tell me I'm good to go. The second i put the boat in gear, its obvious that something is still wrong. the noise is still there, far less loud than before, but it still doesn't sound right. so i call them and let them know and they say they will come out and listen to it. we surf and use the boat for a week or so and the noise is still present. at this point i was hoping they would send someone over to listen to it (i live like 10 miles from the boat dealer and have water access so its really easier for them to send a mechanic to my house than me take the boat to them and then them drive 8 miles to a ramp to put the boat in themselves). At any rate, never got someone to come over which really didn't make me feel like my problem was getting addressed with any sort of urgency and so finally i decided to take it back and drop it off again with them and ask that they look into it again. 

so yesterday i get a call from their service manager (very nice guy- and for the record i like all the guys at this shop and this is really the first major issue I've had in the 3 malibus i have owned, second from this dealer). i am told that he put the boat in the water and there is definitely something still wrong... not up to his standards and he sorta apologized that this hadn't been taken care of before. a little sense of them treating me with some priority goes a really long way with me.. so he says he's going to be on the phone with indmar that day and i will hear from them later that afternoon. 

didn't ever hear back yesterday. so this morning i went back up to the dealership to ask in person what was going on. well they never heard back from indmar. at this point I'm getting pretty angry because honestly this is closing in on 3 weeks this summer that this boat has been down due to something mechanical. i got it less than a year ago, brand new with zero hours. broke it in properly, i have done every recommended scheduled service to the boat at my dealership and they can attest to that for all my boats. i work out of state in the winter and so the summer is obviously the time when i want to have access to my boat. if i only have 12-14 weeks to use it, it not working for 3-5 of those weeks is a big issue for me. i started researching lemon laws today, and it sounds like 60 days out of service in 2 years or 3 times in the shop for the same problem without getting it resolved and they have to buy the boat back from me or replace it with a comparable boat at the buyers discretion (at least thats what the laws say in South Carolina). This is the third time this boat has been in the shop for this problem and needless to say, it doesn't sound like they are hot on any trail to fixing it. 

I really like the guys at the dealership- i consider them friends of mine and frankly i love malibus boats. but I'm honestly at a point where its getting to be a bit much to stand by and not investigate other means by which to resolve this problem. any advice? 


and i thank you all for your time to read this and respond=) i want to make sure that  my expectations are not way out of line and i suppose input from impartial people is where i am looking for it!


thanks all

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You are a very patient man. Something like that would be very frustating for me. My 2016 23 lsv had an oil leak back in February and my dealer said they couldn't find any problem. I kept using my boat and everytime I pulled the plug, a lot of sludge would come out of it. I took it back and they found the issue, but it was in the shop for an additional two weeks. Had this happened during the summer months, I probably would have lost it. Hang in there. I am praying they will fix it soon.

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Sorry for all your troubles, I will say this, I have owned three different Malibus myself.  Malibu always has always done us right and taken care of every issue I have had with the boats I have owned, luckily nothing ever major has happened but noneless I have never been denied a warranty claim.  I am confident they will take care of the problem and get it resolved for you.  I would have thought a new transmission would have taken care of it, assuming the V drive was also replaced but they rarely ever fail.  Seeing as it only does it when the boat is in drive going forward would appear the transmission would be the problem.  If you neutral lock the boat and rev up the engine does it still make the noise? and you said no issues when going into reverse?  That would be really be bad luck to get a second transmission that was faulty, but could be possible.  I can't see them doing anything else other than replacing another transmission.  If the noise was always there while engine is running in neutral I would lean towards something else, but seeing as it only happens when going forward it almost seems like it has to be the transmission.

Keep us posted on your progress, sounds like you are handling it the right way and your dealer seems to be trying to fix it.  Although they could have easily hooked up a fake lake and put the boat in gear for a few seconds to see if the noise was still there, even though it is not good for the cutlass bearing a few seconds won't harm anything and there is water trickling down to it while on the fake lake.

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guys thanks a lot for your thoughtful responses. I appreciate your time and effort and everything you've said makes sense. 

as far as the lemon law thing, my brother is an attorney so likely wouldn't be a large expenditure for me considering this is half his boat. realistically the thing that bums me out so much is the fact that i am boatless for such a large part of the time i have away from where i work out of state. so being here without the boat is just not something I'm prepared to accept quietly and sit around on my hands for for too terribly long. 

as far as trading the boat in, if it comes to that and I end up being the one thats out money on a brand new boat that should be fixed under warrantee, rest assured this will be my last malibu. the nautique dealer is about 3 miles further down the road from my house than the malibu dealer is... so its not the only game in town. again I've had 3 malibus and absolutely love them when they are working, but i have limited time to use my boat so if its down a significant part of the summer and i don't have a loaner boat, realistically litigation isn't that big of an issue for me and neither is the relationship with a dealer that i won't go back to if this doesn't get rectified very soon. I mean i don't have a lot to lose in my opinion if it comes to that- i don't have the use of a boat now, so its really not gonna get to be a much worse situation with respect to losing time on the water. 

thanks guys- i appreciate everyones help and input. i hope all you guys are out on the water today and its not TOO terribly hot where you all are. stay cool folks!

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Have you asked your dealer for a loaner boat while yours in being fixed??  You just bought a high dollar boat from them, can only use it in the summer due to your schedule, and if they are a good dealer and want to retain their customer base, providing  you with a loaner while they figure out WTH is going on is simply good business.  You may want to talk to @ahopkinsTXi to see if he has any recommendations.  He has a similar issue a couple years ago and was taken care of but I don't have all the details on that. 

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Just a wild guess on my part. But, if they did replace the damper plate, I have a feeling that plate was defective also.  Hope this gets resolved soon,

Steve B.

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15 hours ago, inlandlaker said:

Have you asked your dealer for a loaner boat while yours in being fixed??  You just bought a high dollar boat from them, can only use it in the summer due to your schedule, and if they are a good dealer and want to retain their customer base, providing  you with a loaner while they figure out WTH is going on is simply good business.  You may want to talk to @ahopkinsTXi to see if he has any recommendations.  He has a similar issue a couple years ago and was taken care of but I don't have all the details on that. 

Yes I did. Lost a transmission very early, less then ten hours. Indmar had a new one to my dealer and they installed it in less then a week. We were given a loaner boat to use with us asking. I would ask though if I were you. 

Then at the end of the year I started having problems again. Second trans and the engine went. I was pissed at first and was probably too aggressive with my approach to the situation. Once I calmed down, I worked with the dealer to replace with a new boat. I know they worked with Malibu a bit but I don't know the details. Every situation is different but I would just politely but firmly request a swap. I briefly looked into the lemon law but I'm happy we didn't go the route. I maintained a good relationship with the dealer and it all worked out in the end. 

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Guys thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts and advice- i do really appreciate it.

I actually did ask my dealer for a loaner and they said they didn't have one available. They did let me borrow one last time the boat was in the shop for the weekend, so i am thankful they did the first time. The thing thats really irking me now though is that my dealer is closed sunday/monday. indmar is closed saturday/sunday. so thats 3 days out of every week that nothing is going on... Honestly if i felt a sense of urgency on either end of this issue i would be more impressed, but being told on saturday that they'll make another call to indmar tuesday is kind of disheartening. that just means to me "hey man you have no chance of this being fixed soon and we don't have a loaner- so you are really just SOL."

they offered for me to come get my boat on saturday, but again since the last time the noise got considerably worse and more violent sounding i am really hesitant to put a bunch more hours on it with this similar but lesser noise still going on.. if they had some idea what it was it would be different- but telling me they don't know what it is enough to fix it but in the same breath it should be fine to drive seems weird to me. especially considering last time they told me to keep on driving it and it got worse and worse to the point i had to decide on my own not to drive it anymore... and when indmar heard the recording of the mouse their first response was "STOP DRIVING IT IMMEDIATELY!!". 

anyway- thanks again y'all. I'm gonna run by there tomorrow and see what i can get done. hope everyone has a great weekend

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Easy from behind a computer but I have had a ton of experience with cars and if I could hear a noise it did not take long to get to the bottom. It sounds like the dealer is not putting good work into salving the problem! I will say it may be a cheep shot at the dealer but sure sounds like they need to step it up. I would think you could isolate the area of concern if you have a noise very quickly!  JMHO.

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2016 boat in the shop all summer and no loaner?  I agree with some of the above statements, your dealer needs to go to bat for you.  I'd be extremely PO'd if that was my boat at that price and I was not being taken care of.  I had issues (not quite as big as yours) with my first Malibu, and the dealership that I purchased from was very sub par, (and are no longer a Malibu dealer).  I decided to take matters into my own hands, and I called Malibu directly.  I spoke with Blair and he was extremely helpful.  Suddenly my issues were resolved rather quickly, but IMO if you have a reputable dealer it shouldn't have to get to that point.

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16 hours ago, thtrog said:

If your dealer doesn't know what's wrong have them to take it back to the factory. One trip, a new drivetrain and your boat is fixed this week...Done. 

That's not exactly how it works..........

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Around 18 hours into ownership on my new LSV (about 1 month ago), on a Saturday at the lake we noticed that my boat was intermittently in reverse when we were actually in neutral.  hmmm......dangerous obviously!  mental note to pay attention to this and take boat into shop on Monday!  Everything felt fine, honestly I thought it could have been firmware and not a mechanical issue.  We decided to go out again on sunday to ride, initially no problems wakeboarding, but we started to surf and the boat slipped into neutral while my buddy was riding - hmmm......I know I didn't bump the throttle.....weird.  pull him up again and all sorts of tranny alarms start sounding and appear on the dash.  Ok!  Done.  Open things up, horrible gear oil smell, temps ridiculously hot.  We decide to let everything cool off, try to limp home no alarms but then alarm again and loose all drive, forward and reverse. 

I took the boat to my dealer as planned on Monday and I had a new tranny by the following weekend.  Very happy with my dealer (Larson Marine).  I'm told that Idmar wanted them to do a bunch of trouble shooting but after a day or two of this my dealer requested they air ship a new tranny out so I could get back on the water, especially in light of the fact we had a trip planned specifically around using the boat at Lake Almanor the following week.

The new tranny has been flawless and the "you aren't in neutral when you thought you were" issue is also gone.  I will say initially I was pretty nervous the issue would repeat itself, especially since the "shallow water" alarm and tranny alarm look and sound the same - my heart has skipped beats on the few occasions the shallow water alarm has sounded!

Good luck I hope your issues are resolved quickly.

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1 hour ago, 23LSVOwner said:

That's not exactly how it works..........

Maybe not, it would not be the first or the last boat that has been returned for major service. Edit, not just Malibu...

Edited by thtrog
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27 minutes ago, thtrog said:

Maybe not, it would not be the first or the last boat that has been returned for major service. Edit, not just Malibu...

Of course. "load it up and send it to the factory" isn't the route one takes though. Perhaps the OP should reach out to the engine manufacturer as they are the ones that the dealership would be working with to diagnose and repair it?

Edited by 23LSVOwner
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