Top Reasons For A Broken Boat, And How To Fix Them

Broken Boats

Australia has over 171 lakes, and 35,000 km of shoreline. It’s no wonder so many Australians love their boats—whether fishing, diving, skiing, or diving, boating has become a core part of our culture. So when your trusty vessel breaks down, you’ll want to fix it as quickly as possible.

If you have a broken boat that’s failing to start, cutting out, or just generally behaving in strange ways, here are some possible reasons.

No fuel!

You’ll be surprised by how many people overlook the obvious, so it’s always worth pointing out. Before reading on, take a look at your fuel gauge to see whether you actually have fuel.

Dirty or old fuel filter

If you feel like your boat is losing power, or starts to regularly splutter, your first port of call should be the fuel filter. Remove any dirt, debris, and water by giving it a thorough clean, and see whether it fixes the issue. If not, the filter probably needs to be replaced, which should happen after 200-300 hours worth of work (or when you take it to be serviced).

Damaged spark plugs

Damaged spark plugs are another cause of power loss for your boat’s motor. Inspect them closely, making sure that they’re dry, grayish in colour, and with damage-free insulators and boots. If the plugs are wet, there might be water in your fuel, and if they have white residue on them, they’re probably getting too hot1.

Spark plug troubleshooting can be difficult to the untrained, so it’s best to call in the professionals.

Broken belt

If you have a broken belt, the voltage meter will show that the alternator isn’t charging, and you may also see an overheating warning light. This makes broken belts one of the easier problems to identify, and can be easily fixed with a replacement.

Lack of water flow

Boat motors don’t store water—they just pull up water from wherever they’re being used. When this water flow is interrupted, the engine will overheat and eventually fail. This interruption can be caused by loose clamps or damaged hosing, and can be identified and fixed by a professional.

Loose ignition switch

Dash-mounted ignition switches can become loose, and when you turn your key, the housing for the switch turns instead of the switch itself. This can be fixed by tightening the necessary nut or screw.

Blown fuse, or tripped breaker

If the motor suddenly dies without the kill switch being turned on, and you’re confident that you have fuel in the tank, you might have blown a fuse or tripped a circuit breaker. You can try fixing this yourself, but it’s safer to take the boat to a mechanic.

Detached cable shift

Most boats still use mechanical cable shifts in the gear system, and when this detaches from the shift lever, the boat won’t be able to accelerate. Check the gear box to see whether the cable has become detached.

Low hydraulic fluid 

If you’re having problems steering the boat, it could be low on hydraulic fluid. If you recently topped up the fluid, you might have a leak.

So there you have it—the most common reasons for a broken boat, and how to fix them. If you’re struggling to diagnose or fix a problem, and need a little professional help, feel free to give us a call. We’ll have you back on the water in no time.


  1. Symptoms Of Bad Marine Spark Plugs, Champion
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