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Taking on water - HDS leak and others.

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Hi all, I'm new here, but I am not new to Malibu.  I currently have a 2003 RLX with about 920 hours, but I've also owned a (from most recent) 2001 RLX, a 93 Echelon, and a 97 RLX (bought new when I was a kid, sold in 2001 with 1300 hours :surprised:).  As you can tell, I'm a fan of Malibu direct drives...

Anyway, unfortunately, I just got the 03 in August so I don't know it's history, but it is definitely taking on water.  I've done a lot of searching on this site and I've heard about the infamous HDS leak.  My prior boats didn't have the issue, so I didn't even know to look for that, but I did dry out the bilge and drop the boat in the water and looked for water coming in.  It's dripping a bit from the shaft seal, which I know is normal, but I also noticed bubbling (as the HDS filled up) and water (once the HDS was full) coming from where the steering cable has a support mount near the very back of the HDS.  It's also a little loose.  I know it's supposed to pivot as the rudder is turned, but it also moves up and down.  There is a bolt on top, and it can be turned by hand and never tightens.  Is it supposed to be that loose?  What is on the under side of that?  Has anyone had a leak there before?  Is there a seal there?  Is it just a bolt that goes into the HDS with a nut on the other side?  Is it possibly the nut just fell off on mine?

Unfortunately I don't have the boat in my possession at the moment, so I can't take a picture of what I'm talking about, but I found this picture online, and while it's not great, it's the only one I can find that kind of shows what I'm talking about.  At the very top of the picture you can kind of see a square black thing the steering cable mounts to.  Right under that black square thing is where it's leaking.

I will also do some of the tests I read about to check for the HDS leak, but for right now, I know there is water coming from this point.  Any ideas?  How easy is it to fix?  If I take the cover off the HDS to check this out, is it easy to get back on a seal up?

Thank you for any help.


Edited by Malibu205
Adding to title to attract more attention
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I agree with @formulaben


I would do some searching here as well.  There are many threads on the HDS leak.  It was relatively common.  I've had a couple Malibu DD's and knock on wood, never had to deal with it.  The threads here identify repair procedures, ways to confirm that it is in fact the HDS that's leaking, etc.  I'd start there. 




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I will look into the HDS leak, but when I was searching the forum nothing ever came up about this steering cable mount.  I know water is coming through there as well, which is why I was looking for specific info on that.

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2 minutes ago, justgary said:

Yes, it should be easy to reseal your cover after you take it off.

Hopefully you just have loose hardware where the leak is.

Thanks for the info.  Once I get the boat back from the shop (fixing the fuel sender and doing a buff job to get back the colors) I will try to pull the cover off and see what what it looks like under there and hopefully see if there is a loose nut or something.  I will also fill the bilge with water and see if any leaks into the HDS to see if there is more than one leak.

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