8 top causes of marine engine breakdown at sea

We have put together for you the 8 main breakdowns that push boaters to call on lifeguards at sea.

Fuel problem

Your engine starts to cough and then stops dead. Believe it or not, one of the most common reasons is that you have run out of gas! Of course, this can be easily avoided, but you’d be surprised at the number of fuel loss rescue calls. Be sure to refuel before each outing and with the correct marine fuel, as specified by the manufacturer of your outboard motor. Then there are the more complex issues related to fuel lines and the flow of fuel to your engine. Filters may be clogged. You may also be the victim of a faulty fuel pump.

Electrical problems

An electrical problem is another very common reason why a boat can break down en route and require assistance. The electrical problem can be as simple as blown fuses or a loose connection, but it can also require larger repairs such as changing a relay or regulator.

Motor overheated

Another common engine problem is overheating. The towing companies explained to us the two most common reasons why an engine overheats, it can be a problem of intake of fouled water, due to waste in water, a pump water or a broken turbine.

Dirty propellers and drive shaft

Just like waste in water such as plastic bags, fish nets, etc. can block your intake system causing overheating, debris can also foul the turbines, causing real problems. This problem is difficult to avoid, and all you can do if it happens, try to clean the water pump, and hope that the impeller has not been damaged.

Faulty ignition

You have docked and spent the day at the beach, having lunch or enjoying other nautical activities, you return to the boat … and there he refuses to start! Like their four-wheel counterparts, startup problems are one of the main reasons for calling for help. This is most likely some sort of electrical problem – a weak or dead battery, or a cut somewhere in the ignition system. Checking that your battery is properly charged and that all connections are secure and free from corrosion is the best way to prevent starting problems. Also think of a problem with defusing the fuel system …

Bad vibrations

Bad vibrations at sea are a frequent cause of breakdowns. If your boat starts to vibrate drastically, it is usually a propeller problem, possibly a damaged blade. Without a propeller, there is little you can do to prevent this type of failure. You may be able to return slowly to the port if you are not too far away or else you are waiting to be towed.

Steering problems

If your boat is difficult to steer, the most likely cause is a low level of hydraulic fluid, which could be caused by a damaged line. But, if your steering wheel is blocked, it could be a sign of a more serious mechanical failure. Either way, you should check the fluid level regularly and make sure that all hydraulic steering systems are regularly inspected and maintained.

For cable directions, the cable may seize up in the sheath, it is necessary to make sure that the sheath and the cable are well lubricated to avoid a rupture with sometimes very serious consequences (ejection of passengers).

Severe mechanical breakdown

Most of the time, when a boat makes a request for assistance at sea, it is for one of the reasons listed above and, often, a quick solution can be found on the ground and you can continue your navigation at least to return to port in slow motion. However, there are times when you encounter more serious problems such as broken camshafts, valves or cracked cylinder heads. If one of these situations occurs, towing to the dock is necessary and the repair bill may prove to be salty!

Preventive maintenance

It is important to understand that many of these failures, whether serious or minor, can be prevented by regular maintenance of your outboard motor and its accessories.