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Troubleshooting self-induced electrical issues on 2017 Txi


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I can't even begin to tell you how much it pains me to say this but, the electrical kill switch was left on for over a month rendering the battery dead. Found this out at the lake and tried swapping out the battery for a truck battery to salvage the trip. The painful part is that in our haste to switch batteries, the terminals were hooked up reversed, + to - and - to +. When corrected the engine (still) won't start but now the volt, fuel, and oil press no longer indicate. I'm pretty sure that's an under dash fuse but I noticed the engine hours are zero, which may be a fuse but I'm fearful it's worse (ECM). I would hope there are some shorting strong protections to prevent frying the ECM. 

I'd like to start by troubleshooting the fuses but my question is, 1. where do I start and 2. what kind of fuse puller do I need to pull and check the fuses from the panel (the manual provides no info).

Any info regarding the electrical system would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Oh yuk sorry to hear. I don’t have a ton of suggestions how to help but I’ll offer what I got. I’m sure some of the experts here will chime in. Did this myself once too. Fried my alternator in the process and popped the main breaker on the engine. Poke around for that breaker on yours. Plastic fuse pullers are the best for the fuses under the dash. Most auto parts stores have one you can buy. Pliers work too just be careful not to shatter the plastic housing. One out, check it, back in. Ask me how I know. 😂 Good luck. Hope it’s just a blown fuse or breaker somewhere.

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ahopkinsVTX

So I did this once in our 2013 txi. It fried our alternator and 7” touch screen. Is your screen functioning? If so I’d go get the alternator tested. Hopefully it’s not much worse than this. 

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Sadly fuses are poor polarity protection. Sorry to say this but there's a high chance you'll have some fried electronics.

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Solid state electronics don't handle reverse polarity across their junctions very well. It is literally a short circuit to them. Not sure how much reverse polarity protections are built into the items on your boat. Good luck.

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Ok you smart electrical guys. this is certainly not the 1st discussion on this topic.  Since there appears to be no OEM protection from this error, is there anything we can add on to the electrical system for future protection?

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Fuses within 12" of the battery terminal on the positive and negative cables may help.  Otherwise, using color coding and care when connecting batteries would be the most reliable way to prevent damage from cross polarity connections. 

You should see what happens when one battery is connected properly and the other is reversed with the battery switch in the 1+2/All or combined position.  Scary, with lots of smoke, burned wiring, and failed electrical components.  I see at least 1 or 2 boats every year come in for this.

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3 hours ago, Rednucleus said:

Ok you smart electrical guys. this is certainly not the 1st discussion on this topic.  Since there appears to be no OEM protection from this error, is there anything we can add on to the electrical system for future protection?

Yes, but no. High current diodes are available that could take starting load so it'd be possible to add into the main cable right at the battery terminals but the problem is the voltage drop across the diode.

Better solution would be if battery manufacturers used 2 different sized terminals so there's a clear difference in which cable goes where.  But even then it'd not be foolproof as people when rushed, distracted, poor light (or just plain stupid) don't use the simple red and black. All it takes is a microsecond touch of terminals with reverse polarity to fry electronics

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Positive and negative battery posts and cable lugs are sized differently.  The negative post and cable lug have a smaller diameter than the positive ones.  They are also tapered so the post and cable lug has a top and bottom.  Malibu, Axis, Cobalt, and several other builders have used automotive style cable ends (or adaptors) for several years.  Some boat builders still only use eyelet cable ends, like Chaparral, that connect to the threaded marine battery studs or have a combination of automotive style and marine style connections.  Many batteries, but not all, even use different sized threaded marine studs and nuts.

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I have seen some instances where a battery installer did not realize there was a size or orientation difference in the connectors and corrected this issue with some percussive persuasion.

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Uh oh. I have a feeling that is why one of my connectors "needed" some persuasion. But, what needed persuasion was my brain evidently.

Steve B.

  • Haha 2
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Just to follow up a few lessons learned in the hopes of preventing anyone from doing the same stupid mistake.

1. Don't forget to turn your kill switch off after every use. This was the root cause, I usually do this, the problem in my case is that I put the boat in a storage unit near our ski lake and it's dark in there which makes it harder to double check the recessed kill switch. 

2. CAREFULLY CHECK BATTERY POLARITY (I know...duh):  At age 59.5 I can still ski deep into 35 off but I can't read much without my reading glasses. Add to this that the battery we pulled from the truck had worn, uncolored markings. Not contemplating the fact that perhaps batteries can be non-standard, I oriented the truck battery with the poles on the port side of the boat, like the boat battery.

As previously mentioned in another post, the poles are different sizes. I didn't realize this at first because I had widened both battery clamps when I took them off. Ultimately this was where I realized my mistake...too late.

3. ALWAYS turn the kill switch to OFF before installing the battery: This didn't make a difference in my case but may in yours

None of these are excuses, just causal factors. A moment of pause would've avoided this as well. We had about an hour until the rain hit and were rushing to get in a couple of sets.

  • Like 1
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@csleaverhow much diameter difference are the battery posts? Is it just a couple of millimetres? I've never noticed a obvious difference on car or boat batteries, but then I've never tried opposing them either! 

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4 hours ago, justgary said:

Base of negative is ~0.695"

Base of positive is ~0.760"

Difference is roughly 1/16".

Thanks for info. Why did they even bother? Most people won't notice <10% difference

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2 hours ago, uk_exile said:

Most people won't notice <10% difference

In many cases, you have to force the - clamp on the larger + post or the + clamp will not get tight on the - post. 

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1 hour ago, MLA said:

In many cases, you have to force the - clamp on the larger + post or the + clamp will not get tight on the - post. 

Understood but seems silly not to design them with a large clearly noticable difference so that polarity mistakes don't occur

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37 minutes ago, justgary said:

Yeah, they should put a big plus on one terminal, and a big minus on the other!

LOL, and colour them too! 

I'm a design engineer and its a fail to design a difference but make it so small that it doesn't always work

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7 hours ago, uk_exile said:

LOL, and colour them too! 

I'm a design engineer and its a fail to design a difference but make it so small that it doesn't always work

When you buy a new battery, take matters into your own hands and use red spray paint to mark the correct side as well as you please.  You'll still have to pay attention when you connect it to your device, though.

No matter what you do, somebody could still hook it up wrong.

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I often use red and black paint markers on the posts and cable connections when getting a new boat ready.  It helps me keep things straight, as my eyes and mind have unfortunately gotten older, and it will likely help the boat owner down the road.  Some batteries have plus and minus marks that are hard to see. 

It has been a very long time since I hooked up a battery incorrectly, but it happens.  The last time was over a decade ago in a single engine Bayliner cruiser.  The damage was minimal, fortunately.  I won't go into detail, but it involved a fire extinguisher, lots of smoke, and some cable cutters to resolve.  It made a lasting impression on me.

Since everyone has a camera with them these days, I always recommend taking a before and after photo when replacing batteries and compare the photos before turning on the battery switch.  The most common problem I have seen with battery replacement is when a new battery is placed in the box opposite the original orientation. 

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The way my cables are routed, as long as I use a group 24M size battery there is no way to connect backwards.

Edited by electricjohn
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I don't work in the trade so don't see lots however most marine and deep cycle batteries I've seen here in NZ have a colour coded ring around the terminal as well as + - symbols. Vehicle batteries often just the + - 

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