Q: Engine turning over, but won't fully start.

asked by on May 29, 2017

My question is not necessarily "car" related. I have a 1990 Correct Craft Sport Nautique (inboard ski boat). It has a 351W (carbureted) engine. Today I was on the lake with boat running (idling). The engine cut off...I figured it was out of gas (my gas gauge currently doesn't work). So I put a couple of gallons of gas in it, and went to start it back up. It would turn over, but wouldn't fully start. Almost like it wasn't getting enough/any fuel. Once I got it back to the dock, it would only turn over once every 3-4 tries. (I would turn the key, and would just hear a click...the engine wouldn't even try to turn over). I eventually got it to start up and idle a few times. But I'm skeptical to take it back out on the lake and get stranded. I don't know much about carbureted engines. If it ran out of gas, could it be that it just took some time for gas to get back in the lines? How about the clicking/no turn over when I turn the key sometimes? Thank you for your help!

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The clicking sound typically relates to a weak battery (a rapid clicking sound) or a faulty starter solenoid (a more pronounced and slower clicking sound). The starter solenoid is located on the starter and has internal electrical contacts that transmit electricity to the starter. As electricity is supplied to the starter a small gear comes out and engages the flywheel to spin the engine over as you turn the key. When this fails, it may cause a clicking sound and will not allow the starter to engage the flywheel when you turn the key. If the motor did run out of fuel, it would be typical for it to take a bit of time turning the motor over again to pump fuel back into the fuel lines and carburetor. Unlike a fuel injected motor, a carbureted motor does not pump fuel as quickly into the motor. I would suggest having the battery tested to determine if this is the issue related to the intermittent clicking when turning the key. If the battery is not the issue, you will next want to have the starter tested.

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