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04 Wakesetter 23LSV New to me issues


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So I recently purchased a 2004 Malibu Wakesetter 23LSV with the 380 Hammerhead and 685 hours on it. Right out of the gate the boat ran great, no issues. Then day two rolls around and we noticed a heavy oil smell while driving the boat. Pressure was staying fine, but losing oil. I took the boat back to the guy I got it from (dealer) and he investigated, found a failed timing cover seal. Replaced it for me, no big deal. Then the distributor cap went bad, then the starter, then the water pump....I cannot help but wonder who on this earth I have done so wrong to have this many issues within the first month of owning the boat. When I first checked the boat out, there were no apparent issues at all. 

So today I get out on the water and I noticed that I was still taking on water a bit, and I had a funny vibration. I trailered the boat and found the front Tracking fin was about to fall off. The bolts backed out from inside the hull.....how the hell does that happen?? I know the fuel tank has to come out to fix it, which is not something I can do on my own without the tools, straps, and help...

My question is, should I fix this issue, sell the boat and cut my losses or do I keep pushing forward and hope this is the last of the issues? I haven't had 3 good trips on this boat since I bought it...

Anything ELSE I should be Leary of with these boats? I have very limited experience with the Malibu brand, I grew up skiing behind a Mastercraft, so this is a whole new set of concerns for me.

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I have an 06 23LSV, owned for 4 seasons, 500+ hours, and have had none of the issues that you are encountering.  Do you know the history on the boat?  How many hours are on the boat?  Is is a local trade in? Or did your dealer pick it up at auction?  If you have a reputable dealer, they should be helping you out on some of this stuff.  Not for free, but at a discount rate.

I have never heard of the tracking fin bolts backing out unless they have already been altered.  This indicates that maybe the boat struck something and the fins were replaced and no loc-tite was used when they were installed. 

Starters go bad, and yours (if stock) is 16 years old.  it is possible that the bilge was filled with water at some point, submerging the starter.  This would lead to premature failure.

When you say 'water pump', are you referring to the raw water impeller pump? If the impeller failed, that is a standard maintenance item.  Personally, I would have replaced it the minute I brought the boat home because you never know how old the existing one is.

Likely that you will have to see it through and repair the issues.  You won't be able to sell it (in good conscience) with the issues you indicate, plus it will not perform well on a lake test for a perspective buyer.

Pulling the fuel tank is a pain, but not overly complicated.

Based on the short story you provided, it sounds like maybe the boat you bought has been run hard and not maintained very well.  Even so, if you repair these issues and take care of it moving forward, this could be a great boat for years to come.

Good luck

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Don’t be afraid to tackle those issues.   Just kinda goes with the territory of owning a 16 year old toy.   

This forum is priceless for information and help and will save you a lot of $$ and time.   

It will be a great opportunity to get to know the boat and build a ton of confidence so when the next issue comes along you’ll have the resources to tackle it.   

  • Like 2
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I bought a ten year old boat ten years ago. The first 2-3 years I read every thread I could find under the maintenance repair troubleshooting section of the forum. From what I learned in this forum I have been able to go from stern to bow and back to stern looking at everything. I have pretty much replaced every wear item, attacking them by ranking them in order of urgency.  Knock on fiberglass, (no wood) I have never had a trip ending failure. Well..the maiden voyage resulted in a bent prop and strut, but other than that and the one time I was testing some issues and the ICM failed requiring Son 1 to deliver my spare ICM via jet ski, all has been flawless.  But when I say flawless, I do make a list of repairs needed and tackle them on a regular basis and I keep a list of things to do for Spring make ready and  I have never missed the Black Friday sale at Bakes.  

Edited by Bozboat
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We have a 2004.  1200 hours now.  600 of them are ours. It's been great.  New boat prices seem crazy so were planning on keeping it a while longer.  I've fixed or replaced many of the things you mentioned.  After 5 years I'm pretty familiar with the boat and have a few winter projects planned for it.  It's generally easy to work on. Changing the starter took 20 min vs my car which would take hours.  My starter never left us stranded, it got sluggish and seemed old so I decided to change it. New one feels much stronger.  

Don't get too disheartened if you fix the issues and do the maintenance you can have a reliable boat too. Tons of info in the manuals and on this forum.  When I can't find something here I check the mastercraft forums.  I've gotten a couple answers from there.  Their indmar engines were very similar in 2004. 

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8 hours ago, ROFF said:

Don’t be afraid to tackle those issues.   Just kinda goes with the territory of owning a 16 year old toy.   

This forum is priceless for information and help and will save you a lot of $$ and time.   

It will be a great opportunity to get to know the boat and build a ton of confidence so when the next issue comes along you’ll have the resources to tackle it.   


@TShanks there are LOTS of people here (including me) who are willing and able to help.  I didn't know a lot about boat maintenance/repair but after a couple years here asking questions, paying attention, and taking notes I received an impressive education for sure.  I now am the only person who touches my boat.  With the help of the crew I've gotten way deeper that I could have possibly imagined...I'm more than happy to pass it along, as are others here.  My only suggestion is to be a supporter, as a way to pay it forward.

Trust me on this: after you fix your initial issues, you will know your boat better than your former mechanic, and you'll be a better owner for it.  It will be fine!  You can do it!

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