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No start without starting fluid

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1994 Malibu Echelon 454 Magnum EFI, Fail to Start Troubleshooting and Distributor Disassembly

Engine ran super all summer, but on what turned out to be our last ski day in October, the engine would not start after two fun ski runs on the lake.  Towed back to home dock.  Engine will crank and crank with the starter but will not fire.  Sprayed starter fluid in the intake and engine fires right up.  With engine running, I then motored up and down the lake at Idle and high speed and it would run great.  However, after shutting down back at the dock, again, the engine would not start on its own but would with starter fluid.  Replaced Distributor Cap and Rotor.  Cleaned up corrosion underneath the rotor but not 100%.  After buttoning distributor back up, the engine started, but then shortly died.  Still will not start on its own.  Replaced spark plugs.  No change.  Ordered new spark plug wires and a new coil.  It has been a few years since any maintenance was done in this area, so I am just being proactive in replacing the cheaper parts that are easy to replace before going to the boat shop.

Not sure how to remove the next piece under the rotor to enable further disassembly to facilitate replacement of the coil.  It is a round cover which can be rotated back forth slightly within two slots vs pins, but I do not know the trick to get this round cover off.  Do I have to remove the entire distributor assembly and go from the bottom up?

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Does the fuel pump run for 2 seconds at key up?  If it does, then key up (turn to "RUN" but not start for 3 seconds) several times and then see if it starts.

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Update - Thanks for your feeedbacks.  I am now tending to agree that it is a fuel problem with an electrical (not directly ignition) problem associated.  Yesterday, I attempted to start the boat (with my fake lake hose and bucket) mostly as it was since I last worked on it.  In other words, I did not replace any parts since a a couple of weeks ago.  However, I did remove the distributor cap and the rotor to inspect how to replace the coil, but stopped there and simply reinstalled the rotor and distributor cap as is.  Next, the boat would not start with numerous prolonged attempts.  I then sprayed starter fluid into the intake, with the air filter removed, and the engine then proceeded to start.  This was my same finding a couple of weeks ago.  My neighbor and I then postulated for a little while and I wiggled the two wires leading into the fuel pump and also opened the box next to the engine control (the unit that has cooling fins on it) and moved the connectors around in there a little, looking for anything loose.  We were wondering if the initial fuel delivery during a start was not occurring which was addressed by spraying starter fluid into the intake.  Did not find anything loose.  I tried to gently remove one of the two electrical wires at the fuel pump but was not able to get it gently off while trying to push in the small tab.  I was curious as to the possibility that there is corrosion in one or both of these connections.  Since, I could not gently remove one of them, I left them be.  Next, attempted a start and the engine fired up immediately.  Numerous shutdowns and starts now, all successful, starting seeming quicker than ever.  I let it sit for over an hour and it still started immediately.  It is just as if there never was a problem!  Now not sure if the problem has been fixed or there is something loose that could rear its ugly head again.

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Also, I will try to consciously monitor the "key up" recommended above to try and hear the fuel pump activating.  Thanks and I will update any further significant findings.

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I just had problems trying to start my malibu while on a fake lake.

Turns out I had 1/8 tank of fuel. While on a trailer the nose of the boat was down compared to when it sits in the water. Raising the nose of the boat the trailer allowed it to start. The fuel intakes are at the rear of the tank. More fuel would have worked as well. 

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Sorry I'm late to the party.  If you have the issue again, this is what I would suggest.  Would be a good idea to put a fuel pressure gauge on it while cold and key off.  If you don't have one they are very cheap.  Turn the key on and watch the pressure.  It should jump and hold.  I can't remember for sure, but I feel like that engine should be around 60psi, but I'd confirm that.  In any case, if it never gets to that, the pump is bad, the connections are bad (which I suspect based on your last post) or the lines are clogged.  If it hits but doesn't hold, I'd check the regulator.  



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