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1989 Malibu skier revs but doesn’t accel past idle speed

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We just bought a very clean 1989 Malibu skier. Took it out today for the first time. However after it fired up we let it run for a little bit and when we took off the engine rev’d up but boat did not accelerate only stayed at an idle speed 

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You are saying the motor revs up as expected (2-3k rpm) but boat only moves at idle speed? When put in gear do you hear a normal transmission engaugement? What happens in reverse? Have you checked transmission fluuid level?

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Have someone look at the drive shaft when you throttle up.  If the shaft is turning proportionally with engine speed then perhaps someone forgot to install the key in the propeller and it is slipping.  I doubt that's it, but gotta eliminate that as a possibility. 

If the shaft is not turning proportionally with engine speed, then transmission is suspect, so next is definitely check the trans fluid.  If it hasn't been changed in the last 2 seasons then definitely change it out.

Note the proper way to check transmission fluid here:


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