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Installing a Better Fuel Sender


mlange

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Change the fuel sender to one that is more accurate.

The fuel gauges on Malibu boats are notoriously inaccurate. The good news is that it is an easy job to install a new fuel sender to correct the problem for less than $50.

Tools and Supplies Needed:

  • SAE standard 5-hole fuel sender. I used a Teleflex fuel sender from the local West Marine. Discount Inboard Marine sells the same sender for around $28.
  • socket wrench
  • heavy duty wire cutters and potentiallyâ¦
  • 16 gauge wire
  • 2 butt-end splicers
  • 2 ring terminals
  • electrical tape

Estimated Time to Complete: 1 hour
Difficulty Rating: Low

Preparation

Before the real work, you need to gain access to the top of your gas tank where the existing fuel sender is. On some models this will require no work at all. On others it could require some effort. On my 2004 RLXi it meant removing the trunk floor.
 

STEP 1: Removing the old fuel sender

This picture shows the existing fuel sender installed in the gas tank.

1.jpg
Existing fuel sender installed in tank

The fuel sender is held in place by 5 machine screws and has two wires going to it. The two wires will probably be pink and black and may be enclosed in an insulated wire jacket. Depending on the type of the existing fuel sender you have the wires will be either held in place by nuts or spliced into the wires that go directly to the fuel gauge. If they are held in place with nuts, just unscrew the nuts and remove the wires. If they are spliced in place, you will need to determine the best place to cut the wires that you will be able to splice into. In my case, two 8 gauge wires ran from the existing fuel sender and then spliced into the wires running to the fuel gauge.

2.jpg
Existing connection between fuel sender and gauge wires

After removing the wires you can simply unscrew the machine screws and carefully remove the fuel sender from the tank.

3.jpg
Existing fuel sender removed from tank

 

STEP 2: Preparing the new fuel sender

4.jpg
New sender

Most fuel senders are pretty universal and will fit tanks of varying depths. The fuel sender I installed, for example, fits tanks anywhere from 4 to 24 inches in depth. This means that we need to adjust both the support channel and float arm that are part of the fuel sender in order for it to fit properly.

The first thing that we need to do is measure the depth of the inside of the fuel tank. The directions that come with your new fuel sender will have a table that will then tell you how short to cut the support channel and float arm of the new fuel sender in order to fit properly.

5.jpg
Measuring inside depth of fuel tank

Using the inside depth of the tank, determine from the new fuel sender's instructions how long the support channel and float arm need to be and cut them to the appropriate length. The support channel will usually be cut an inch or so longer than half the depth of the tank. In my case the tank's depth is around 6 inches and I cut the support channel to 4 inches. You may want to consider initially leaving them just a bit long and cutting them again later on after you are sure you have the correct lengths.

You can now attach the float arm to the support channel. The instructions will document where the float arm should be attached. It will usually be just a little bit deeper than half the depth of the tank. Again, in my case the tank's depth is around 6 inches and I attached the float arm to the support channel 3 1/4 inches from the top of the fuel sender.

Finally, you need to make sure the float arm will not be obstructed when inside the fuel tank. The support channel is attached to the top of the fuel sender with a couple of screws and can be rotated on the top of the fuel sender in 90 degree increments if necessary. In my case, I needed to rotate it so that the float arm would come off the support channel towards the front of the tank. At first it may appear that this would not be necessary because you can just rotate the fuel sender on the tank. However, the 5 holes for the fuel sender are NOT spaced evenly.

Now its time to attach the wires to the new fuel sender. If you cut the wires to remove the old fuel sender you will need to splice new wire in between the wires coming from the fuel gauge and the new fuel sender. Make sure you attach the black wire to the - terminal on the new fuel sender and the pink wire to the S terminal on the new fuel sender.

Finally we can make sure the new fuel sender is working as expected. Turn the key to the on position (do not start the engine) and make sure the fuel gauge moves when you move the float arm up and down.

STEP 3: Adjusting the new fuel sender

At this point the new fuel sender could just be put right into the tank, but if you want more accurate readings you will want to make sure the lengths of the support channel and float arm are correct and possibly make some adjustments.

The easiest way I could think of to do this was to build an open-ended box that was as high as my tank is deep. You can then cut a hole in the top and place the new fuel sender into the box to mock up a fuel tank.

6.jpg
New fuel sender inside box in order to adjust easily

With the new fuel sender inside the box, turn the key to the on position again (do not start the engine) and move the float all the way up to the top of the box. The fuel gauge should go to F. Then move the float all the way down to the bottom of the box. The fuel gauge should go to E.

If they go all the way to both F and E you are all set. If they dont, you need to adjust either the length of the float arm or where the float arm attaches to the support channel accordingly.

STEP 4: Installing the new fuel sender

Before putting the new fuel sender back into the tank there is one thing we need to do. The wires going from the fuel senders wire terminals down to the float arm need to be tie-wrapped to the support channel to keep them from obstructing the float arm. Make sure you keep them wrapped cleanly and you wont have to bother with a stuck float arm later on.

7.jpg
New fuel sender adjusted and wires tie-wrapped to support channel

AAt last we can put the new fuel sender into the tank. Do not forget to use the gasket that came with your new fuel sender I forgot. Then carefully place the new fuel sender into the tank and screw it all down. You should be able to use the screws from your old fuel sender. It may be easier to disconnect the wires from the terminals if they are in the way and reattach them afterwards.

8.jpg
New fuel sender installed

Wrap Up

It is unfortunate that Malibu doesn't use a more accurate fuel sender. The old fuel sender was very well built but was obviously inadequate and I can't believe there would be in additional cost in switching to another fuel sender that would work better.

While you are doing this, I would strongly suggest installing a fuel/air separator such as the one described in this article to help avoid spewing fuel out the vent whenever filling up. It will only take an additional 15 minutes and this is a good time to do it since you already have the tank exposed.

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Obski,

If you go with the Teleflex sender you can pick them up from lots of different places. I'd suggest going through Discount Inboard Marine (www.skidim.com).

I did think that the Teleflex sender could have been built a little better, though, and am considering putting in one from www.livorsi.com next spring. They have one that is adjustable via screws on the top of the sender, so you just cut it to length (no wires to worry about), put it into the tank, and then adjust it via screws on top of the sender after having it installed.

Maybe we can get someone on TMC to be the guinea pig for this sender.

Mike

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I just installed my Teleflex purchased from IBOATS HERE and it seems to work wonderfully. My sportster lx has a 9 inch deep tank and I cut to the specifications in the directions and I am so glad to actually know how much gas I have left... as someone said before, it's like having a new boat now!!! I want to drive it just to watch the fuel gauge move Crazy.gifCrazy.gif

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I put one in my boat about 3 weeks ago. So far the gauge is MUCH better than stock. I'm still not sure where "empty" is, but at least it isn't reading empty when I know that I have at least 10 gallons in it.

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  • 2 months later...

I guess this will be the fix of the season. Which product do you recommend as we have to change ours too and I only want to do this once. :lol:

Thank you for the pics as we have the sporty and was wondering about the removal of the back seat.

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JC Whintey has them for $16. There are the same 33 - 240 Ohm five bolt Teleflex model. I installed one from Skidim and it is more arcurate than stock. However it does not register Empty. I talked to Teleflex they I could try some resistors in line . I have tried a few different resistors and found a 15 Ohm gets it closest to Empty.

Kelly

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  • 6 months later...

Just wanted to say that after 3 years I finally got fed up enough with the stock sender that I followed the advice on this thread and replaced the sender. I finally have a gas reading that I can trust. I have learned to gauge my remaining gas by hours used (average 5-6 gph). Thus I knew I could put on 9-10 hours of average wakeboarding use before running dry. I never bothered even to look at the gas gauge due to its inaccuracies. The first time out after replacing the sender, I used the boat 8 hours and the gauge (w/new sender) read 1/8. That seems pretty accurate to me. I don't know yet whether or not the gauge will read empty (as described in this thread).

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has anyone tried to put the fuel/air separator on a sportster lx? It seems that the separator requires it to be upright, but the hoses on the sportster are sitting on the top of the tank horizontally. Will it still work?

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  • 5 months later...
has anyone tried to put the fuel/air separator on a sportster lx? It seems that the separator requires it to be upright, but the hoses on the sportster are sitting on the top of the tank horizontally. Will it still work?

Good question!

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Would this type of sender work on our boats and be any more accurate than the float type? Don't know, just askin'. Seems like we still need a more accurate one, especially approaching empty, which seems to me to be what really matters.

I put one that looks identical to that sender last year that came from Livorsi. I ordered the first one and ended up sending it back after I was unable to calibrate full, and didn't get a true measurement of Empty. Livorsi sent a second that they cut to the depth of my tank and is pretty close to being spot on. I will probably dial it in a little more for the empty setting which is what I am really concerned with.

That's a good price BTW.

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Would this type of sender work on our boats and be any more accurate than the float type? Don't know, just askin'. Seems like we still need a more accurate one, especially approaching empty, which seems to me to be what really matters.

I put one that looks identical to that sender last year that came from Livorsi. I ordered the first one and ended up sending it back after I was unable to calibrate full, and didn't get a true measurement of Empty. Livorsi sent a second that they cut to the depth of my tank and is pretty close to being spot on. I will probably dial it in a little more for the empty setting which is what I am really concerned with.

That's a good price BTW.

Stud, I assume you got yours straight from Livorsi...do you have a part # or link to find it in their on-line catalog? They don't seem to have a search function. Also, what depth is your tank? I assume it is pretty close to mine. I called Hardin-Marine about the model I was interested in. I assumed 0-12" meant it would work on my tank if cut to size like yours, but they said it was 12" and no more than 3" could be cut off and still work. IIRC, my tank is not 9" deep.

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Would this type of sender work on our boats and be any more accurate than the float type? Don't know, just askin'. Seems like we still need a more accurate one, especially approaching empty, which seems to me to be what really matters.

I put one that looks identical to that sender last year that came from Livorsi. I ordered the first one and ended up sending it back after I was unable to calibrate full, and didn't get a true measurement of Empty. Livorsi sent a second that they cut to the depth of my tank and is pretty close to being spot on. I will probably dial it in a little more for the empty setting which is what I am really concerned with.

That's a good price BTW.

Stud, I assume you got yours straight from Livorsi...do you have a part # or link to find it in their on-line catalog? They don't seem to have a search function. Also, what depth is your tank? I assume it is pretty close to mine. I called Hardin-Marine about the model I was interested in. I assumed 0-12" meant it would work on my tank if cut to size like yours, but they said it was 12" and no more than 3" could be cut off and still work. IIRC, my tank is not 9" deep.

My tank was about 6.5 inches, but you want to get an EXACT depth. I phone ordered from their mail order catalog. I believe the part that you want is " GSFLC " 12 inch model, I was only able to find the install sheet:

http://livorsi.com/pdf/GSFLC2-GSWLC2.pdf

As per their instructions, you can cut it down to 4" in length so you're OK. Cutting the tube was the hardest part, after that it's just turning screws. I found Livorsi's phone order and tech support decent.

One side note, I don't believe that the Malibu fuel guage is linear, that being..... half a tank is actually half and 1/4 is truly 1/4 full. As long as I know when I'm getting down close to Empty I'll be happy.

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You said that cutting it was the hardest part, but in your previous post you mentioned that Livorsi cut the second one for you to length. Sounds like that is the way to go, but do they offer to do that for any order at no extra charge, or did they just do that for you since it was a reorder?

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You said that cutting it was the hardest part, but in your previous post you mentioned that Livorsi cut the second one for you to length. Sounds like that is the way to go, but do they offer to do that for any order at no extra charge, or did they just do that for you since it was a reorder?

The directions called for using a "tube cutter" to cut what appeared to be a 3/8 inch diameter aluminum tube, with a inner 1/8 inside down to size. I didn't have a tube cutter so I tried to cut it carfully with a hack saw. For whatever reason, I couldn't get the gas guage to properly display that I had a full tank, it would show 3/4 full no matter what I tried (and yes the tank was full!) Biggrin.gif . I called Livorsi back and they offered to replace the unit including return shipping label. I had Livorsi cut the second sender down to size, I forget what they charged....$6 or $9 which included having them calibrate the unit. The second unit they sent works fine so you may want to go that route. Calibrating the unit if it is cut correctly is as simple as turning two philips screw on the top of the sender, just follow the dirrections with the tank initially FULL of gas.

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Thanks much ss, but I don't think you should get up so early just to answer my question. I wish some of our other members were so dedicated in providing helpful information...I get tired of carrying the load sometimes.

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  • 6 months later...
Would this type of sender work on our boats and be any more accurate than the float type? Don't know, just askin'. Seems like we still need a more accurate one, especially approaching empty, which seems to me to be what really matters.

I put one that looks identical to that sender last year that came from Livorsi. I ordered the first one and ended up sending it back after I was unable to calibrate full, and didn't get a true measurement of Empty. Livorsi sent a second that they cut to the depth of my tank and is pretty close to being spot on. I will probably dial it in a little more for the empty setting which is what I am really concerned with.

That's a good price BTW.

Stud, I assume you got yours straight from Livorsi...do you have a part # or link to find it in their on-line catalog? They don't seem to have a search function. Also, what depth is your tank? I assume it is pretty close to mine. I called Hardin-Marine about the model I was interested in. I assumed 0-12" meant it would work on my tank if cut to size like yours, but they said it was 12" and no more than 3" could be cut off and still work. IIRC, my tank is not 9" deep.

Here is link for Lovorsi. I just ordered one with cut & calibration for my Sunsetter VLX. A holiday weekend with a gauge that only shows Full or Empty is frustrating! Empty could mean anything from 18 gallons remaining to nothing.

http://www.livorsi.com/catalog/waterproof.htm

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  • 9 months later...

Can anyone who has installed and had time to test the Livorsi give some feedback on how satisfied you are? Is it worth the extra money over the teleflex?

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  • 4 months later...

Before I start taking my trunk apart, can somebody tell me how deep the fuel tank is on my 2000 Sunsetter Lxi? The easiest sender for me to get is a "Tempo". Has anyone tried one of these?

Edited by Dinsdale
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Before I start taking my trunk apart, can somebody tell me how deep the fuel tank is on my 2000 Sunsetter Lxi? The easiest sender for me to get is a "Tempo". Has anyone tried one of these?

Tempo sender will likely do about the same as original one as it is the same design with a float arm if it is the one I think it is unless your old one is just flat broken. I am happy with one from Livorsi other than I found out that in 2000 Malibu used a digital signal for gauges that did not have enough current to power up new sending unit. They ended up ordering me up another one that used a separate power wire run off ignition switch and it worked fine after that. Only thing is that they would not take back first one because they felt it was my problem that I ordered something from them that did not ahve a specific aplication. I now have an extra if I were to ever get a '99 Sunsetter VLX :unsure: .

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Anyone know if the fuel tank on my 2000 SLXI is under 12 inches in depth? Need to know before I order the part and don't feel like taking my trunk apart yet.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Changed the fuel sender today. The tank on my 2000 SLXI is 7 inches deep. The install went well thanks to all the info on this website. Hopefully this makes the gauge a lot more accurate than the old sender because it was pathetic. Thanks again,

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  • 1 month later...

Would this type of sender work on our boats and be any more accurate than the float type? Don't know, just askin'. Seems like we still need a more accurate one, especially approaching empty, which seems to me to be what really matters.

I put one that looks identical to that sender last year that came from Livorsi. I ordered the first one and ended up sending it back after I was unable to calibrate full, and didn't get a true measurement of Empty. Livorsi sent a second that they cut to the depth of my tank and is pretty close to being spot on. I will probably dial it in a little more for the empty setting which is what I am really concerned with.

That's a good price BTW.

Stud, I assume you got yours straight from Livorsi...do you have a part # or link to find it in their on-line catalog? They don't seem to have a search function. Also, what depth is your tank? I assume it is pretty close to mine. I called Hardin-Marine about the model I was interested in. I assumed 0-12" meant it would work on my tank if cut to size like yours, but they said it was 12" and no more than 3" could be cut off and still work. IIRC, my tank is not 9" deep.

Here is link for Lovorsi. I just ordered one with cut & calibration for my Sunsetter VLX. A holiday weekend with a gauge that only shows Full or Empty is frustrating! Empty could mean anything from 18 gallons remaining to nothing.

http://www.livorsi.com/catalog/waterproof.htm

Well I put the fuel sender from Hardin Marine in a few weeks ago and it never read more than half full. When I ordered it they said I could cut up to 6 inches off of the 12 inch sender. I cut off 5.5 inches. Now Hardin will not return my call to tech support. I paid $60 for this piece of junk plus they had the nerve to charge me $20 for 7 day delivery. Buyer beware.

AW

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