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2004 23 VLX Will Not Crank

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Hello Malibu Crew,

I'm a new owner of a used '04 23' VLX Sunscape. I've spent most of my time on/around/owning outboard-powered, center consoles in the 18'-22' range. That said, I'm new to v-drive tow boats, but not new to boating. 

This past Saturday, I took the boat out and it performed flawlessly. I took the boat out Sunday (yesterday) and attempted to crank the engine after ≈20 minutes of swim time. The electronics (dash gauges, radio, fuel pump engaging, etc.) worked, but the engine would not crank. After a tow to a nearby dock, we hooked up a spare battery with jumper cables and this did not crank the engine (electronics queued up as normal). Next, we lightly tapped the Afco 30470 starter with a hammer which eventually assisted enough to start the engine, albeit in a sluggish fashion. Subsequently, we turned the engine off and attempted to crank again to no avail. We tapped the starter, as before, which did yield some attempts by the engine/starter to crank, but apparently the hammer tapping trick wasn't enough on the second attempt to crank the engine. When I left the folks that assisted with the towing, and the guy that turned me on to the starter hammer tap trick, it was suggested that the starter likely needs to be replaced. 

I've reviewed the "No-Start Troubleshooting" doc (Rev 3 July 5, 2016), and seems my issue falls in "2) Turn & hold ignition key to CRANK position." I have checked items 1-4 and do not anticipate it is item 6 (Hydro-locked). I have not checked item 5 (Check the start relay). 

Based on what I've outlined above, especially the detail around tapping the starter, would a logical next-step be to remove the starter and have it tested? 

Thanks in advance.


Edited by Barslew
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Mind did this when the fuel pump went out.  But we never tapped on the starter or officially diagnosed,.  When it would start after it was cooled I just decided pump was old, throw a new one & viola everything worked again.  

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Interesting, racer808. Did you hear the fuel pump engage, maybe ≈2-3 second buzz/hum, when you were attempting to crank? 

I can hear (what I understand to be the sound of a fuel pump queuing up) the fuel pump engaging on mine. 

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Swap around the relays to see if that changes the issues.  After you swap them, if the fuel pump stops priming and the starter begins working go ahead and replace the relays.  I know that I have had to replace mine twice due to corrosion.  Pulled them out and one was badly corroded.  (In my case it was the fuel pump relay.)  New relay no more problem.  

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Thanks for the responses. I will start with the relays strategy from the "No-Start Troubleshooting" document and work accordingly. 

5)    Check the start relay.  There is a relay mounted on the underside of the ECM cover called the start relay. It is mounted there with two other relays, the ECM relay and the fuel pump relay. The start relay is the only one that has yellow wires going to it. You can try swapping out one of the other relays with the start relay and see if the engine cranks. It will not start because you need all three relays working, but it will at least tell you if the start relay is bad. If so, then you can buy a replacement relay at any auto parts store. The ECM and its cover are normally mounted on the back of the engine, just above the transmission. It is held in place by 4-10/32 screws with 5/16" hex heads.  Also note the section, below, in the Fuel section pertaining to fuel pump power.



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