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98 Malibu Sunsetter VLX starting issue


JDiesel81

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Just got this 98 sunsetter VLX and it was running great. Drove around a bit and did some surf pulls and would start right up no problem until the end of the day. After draining the ballast bags I go to start it and it just turns over with no fire for about 15 seconds. I tried a couple time more and it did the same thing like it was out of gas. Then out of nowhere it fires right back up and runs fine 🤷🏻‍♂️
I was thinking fuel pump? ECU ? Anyone else have this happen?

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2 hours ago, tvano said:

welcome to the crew.

search for vapor lock. 

Would vapor lock happen from sitting over the winter? Tank was about almost empty

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2 hours ago, BlindSquirrel said:

Be sure and run only ethanol free gas. That will solve your issue. 

I always use ethanol free fuel but not sure what was left over in it from the previous owner. 

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1 hour ago, JDiesel81 said:

Would vapor lock happen from sitting over the winter? Tank was about almost empty

No, vapor lock is a common symptom some malibu fuel injected engines can have. These engines tend not to get enough ambient air to cool them after getting good and warm. It usually occurs after the engines have run for awhile, then shut off for about 15 to 30 minutes, then go to start again. The fuel near the engine vaporizes and wont run, or runs very poorly. Lots of easy fixes. Again as tvano said above search "vaporlock" in the resources section of this website. It will be up a trove of info on this and any other Malibu subject.

Steve B.

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Another vote for vapor lock.  To prove it, next time it happens take some ice from your cooler and chill your fuel pump.  If it fires right up after that then you know that's it.  Tons of threads here about it with various band-aid fixes, but real fix is secondary fuel pump...not a super hard or expensive mod but will ensure it never happens again.

I did it when I did my oil filter relocation kit.

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I'm going to go against the grain here... I don't think its vapor lock.  Generally I've seen vapor lock occur only on +100F days.  If the OP is in Minnesota, looks like temperatures were in mid 60s, that shouldn't be hot enough to cause that.  Yes your motor would have been warm and had elevated temperatures, but the surrounding air should have allowed it to cool nicely. 

Boiling-point-diagram-of-gasoline-2-with

 

 

First I would put fresh fuel in an replace fuel filter after the next tank.

Secondly, I've had similar issues, and did a search to find that the starter cable that was installed in the older boats are smaller than desirable.  Corrosion and heat increase resistance and provide less current to the starter.  See thread.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Joeprunc said:

I'm going to go against the grain here... I don't think its vapor lock.  Generally I've seen vapor lock occur only on +100F days.  If the OP is in Minnesota, looks like temperatures were in mid 60s, that shouldn't be hot enough to cause that.  Yes your motor would have been warm and had elevated temperatures, but the surrounding air should have allowed it to cool nicely.

Heat isn't the only issue with vapor lock...as you alluded to with the fuel filter advice.  If he left the blower on, then I'd agree with the temps, but if there's no locker doors or engine hatch open and running the boat hard, the prevailing temperature in the engine bay will still be high enough to be a factor in inducing vapor lock IMHO. 

OP can easily test this with the ice procedure.  Having said that, if it's NOT vapor lock, then I'd look at the ignition coil next.

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Older fuel can have the lighter hydrocarbons evaporate off which reduces volatility.  So yes, old fuel can contribute to a hard start.  I do agree that if you were running in cooler temps vapor lock is much less likely.

Edited by Woodski
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Another possible source of trouble is the ignition control module under the distributor cap and rotor.  They are heat sensitive, so they can come back to life when they cool off.  They need a decent layer of thermal paste under them to transmit the heat away.

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