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2003 Malibu response LXI won't go into gear.

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2003 Malibu LXI transmission won't go into gear.

While dewinterizing my boat this past weekend, the friend doing the work noticed that there was a connector that had come apart on the starboard rear of the engine near the transmission. The connector had several pins and when my friend reconnected it, it seemed to go together just fine and locked in with a clip. He theorized he must have accidentally pulled the connection apart while winterizing the boat the previous fall.

When we got to the lake this past Saturday, we dropped the boat into the water, brought it up to temperature and tried to back it off the trailer. When I tried to engage the transmission, absolutely nothing happened. There was no resistance and it simply would not go into forward to reverse.  I assumed it was the connector plug that had come loose since there were no issues when we had it on the water last time we used it, but after pulling it apart and reconnecting it several times, still nothing happened. 

It's hard for me to believe that it is a coincidence that the transmission won't engage since there were no issues the last time we used the boat and this was the only thing that had changed.

A couple questions for anybody that might know: 

Does the ECM control the transmission? Since I started the engine after the connector had come loose and before we found the problem, Is it possible to ECM stopped identifying the transmission and needs to be reset to factory specs to once again initialize and power the transmission? I had it happen with my Dodge truck once, the four-wheel drive would not work but begin working again after I disconnected the battery to change it out and the ECM lost power. My assumption is that The ECM reset when the power was pulled and again identified and enabled the four-wheel drive actuator after a new battery was installed and power was returned to the ECM.

If it is just a coincidence that that connector had come loose and now the transmission doesn't work, what other issues could it be? I hope someone can help me with this issue as the Malibu shop is quite a long distance from my home.

Thank you very much in advance should anyone be able to point me in the right direction for getting my transmission to once again engage.





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When you moved the shifter to F or R, and the boat did not move, did the engine rev?  Or did it literally do nothing (just stayed at idle)?  If it revved but didn't move, make sure the knob on the shifter plate isn't engaged to allow the boat to rev but not to move.  Is the engine a Monsoon 350 MPI?

I don't think Malibu moved to throttle-by-wire until 2007 or 2008.  My 2003 XTi was not drive by wire, so there was a physical shifter cable between the throttle lever and the transmission and the throttle body on the engine.  With the boat turned off, I would move the throttle lever and look at where it attaches to the transmission, and make sure it is physically moving.  Same with the throttle body.  I don't believe the ECM is involved in the transmission operation on 2003 vintage boats.   Some did have a warning light for the transmission, but I thought that was only for V-drive equipped boats.  Do you have a transmission warning light below the throttle?


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that transmission has glossy black paint. 

in the right light it can be difficult to see if the shaft into the transmission is moving with the cable controlled lever that should push it.

take a close look to insure that shaft is moving w the lever.

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Definitely check the mechanical cable, helm control lever, and transmission shift lever.  Otherwise, low transmission fluid level, a broken prop key, or a failed flywheel drive plate can cause similar problems.

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