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What Causes a Boat Motor to Lose Power

The question you can’t get out of your head after a frustrating day on the water—what causes a boat motor to lose power? We’re going to set aside the possibility that you’re simply out of gas and explore the other likely options. This said, did you check your gas, just to be sure?

Just like the engine in your car, truck, or SUV, your boat’s engine needs three things to operate properly:

  • Air

  • Fuel

  • Spark to ignite the air/fuel mixture

If air or fuel is out of balance, your engine will run sporadically or maybe not at all—a weak or improperly timed spark will have the same result.

Why is my outboard bogging down or losing power altogether? Here are the top 9 sources of the problem.

In-Line Fuel Filter

We always recommend carrying a spare in-line fuel filter. If your engine is losing power, first replace the in-line fuel filter. If you’re not carrying a spare, remove the filter, clean the filter element of debris, and drain any accumulated water.

Spark Plugs and Spark Plug Wires