6 Symptoms to Detect a Faulty Outboard Ignition Coil

When talking about integral components of an outboard, the ignition coil deserves the front spot. It is one of the crucial elements of any engine. However, the chances of this component failing increase with overheating, excessive moisture buildup, and aging. 

But how do you detect a faulty ignition coil in an outboard engine? The three main signs of a bad outboard ignition coil are misfiring, a cracked coil, and reduced fuel efficiency. Additionally, if the coil fails, difficulties with starting the engine will arise!

Apart from the probable signs, I will walk you through the causes of ignition coil failure and some maintenance tips to keep it well-secured. So let’s move on!

How Can You Tell if an Outboard Ignition Coil is Bad?

An outboard ignition coil is not likely to malfunction frequently. But that doesn’t guarantee that it will never run into the issue! 

If it does, some prominent signs can give you a knock about whether the coil has become faulty or gradually getting worse. without more delays, check these out:  

Symptom 1: Engine Not-starting

Most probably, a backdated outboard motor tends to face complications during the engine start-up. And the ignition coil failure is the main cause of it. 

In technical terms, reduced spark energy causes issues with the engine start-up. 

If it happens pretty much regularly instead of occasionally, the engine will become weaker and not start normally.   

Symptom 2: Damaged or Cracked Coil

The ignition coil is positioned directly into the outboard. For the ignition system to function properly, it needs to be free of any cracking or breaking issues. So in case you notice melts and cracks after the examination, you have a faulty ignition coil.

Symptom 3: Decreased Fuel Efficacy

Are you noticing the fuel isn’t delivering as much efficiency as needed? Well, alongside a clogged/leaked filter, a bad outboard ignition coil can also be the reason behind this.

Every boat enthusiast must know that the ignition coil maintains a stable bonding with the fuel’s functionality! 

So if there is anything wrong with the coil, it makes sense that the overall fuel efficiency of your boat may drastically drop!

Consult an expert to detect whether it’s happening for the filter issues or a faulty ignition coil.

Symptom 4: Clicking Sound

I’d say this is by far the most common sign of a bad outboard ignition coil. Sometimes, a boat’s engine turns off after running for a couple of seconds. 

If you notice a “clicking sound” after switching on the ignition, rest assured that the outboard ignition coil is having a hard time! 

Symptom 5: Issues with the Misfiring

As a general rule, the ignition coil must generate a certain voltage to run the engine properly. 

So when it turns bad, it’s pretty obvious for your boat engine to end up with misfiring issues. 

I’ve seen many people claiming that their engines are offering a random acceleration. But the next day, it starts working unpredictably! 

Symptom 6: Bad Odor

Have you noticed a poor, distinctive smell coming from the engine? After starting your boat’s engine, you may observe a bad odor that mostly appears when there are issues with the burned-up motor, overheating, and melted ignition coil.

3 Possible Causes of an Ignition Coil Failure on an Outboard

Can you guess why an outboard ignition coil fails to work the way it needs? Alongside the signs, I’d like to share the probable causes you must note down to overcome them once and for all: 

1. Overheating Issues

Around the outboard, the ignition coil stays in a “sealed” position. So when the motor becomes overheated, it loses its capability of conducting as much electricity as needed. And that’s when the coil fails to perform its job. 

2. Moisture Build-up

From the cover gasket of the valve, sometimes, the oil leak. The coil will be located around the valve cover, so it’s common for it to contact leaked oil that eventually builds moisture. 

3. Wearing and Tearing

Over time, the outboard ignition coil loses its efficacy for the wearing and tearing issues, and that’s when it fails to work!

This will result in losing the required insulation between secondary and primary coil windings. Consequently, the coil will get overheated!

Replacement Costs of Outboard Ignition Coil

The range of Marine outboard ignition coils varies, depending on the model. But in general, you should count around 112-151 dollars for the coil. Here, the coil price is around 82-115 dollars, while the labor charge is up to $100. 

To get familiar with the repair cost, you can directly call your dealer and get further information.

Tips for Maintaining the Outboard Ignition Coil to Prevent Future Failures

Just like every other component of your outboard, the ignition coil can have a better lifespan with proper care and maintenance. Here, I’d like to share some tips I followed to keep my ignition coil long-lasting.

And guess what? They worked! So these are as follows: 

  • The relation between humidity and ignition is like “rat vs cat!” Jokes apart, you must keep the outboard out of dampness, moisture, and humidity. 
  • After rough uses, it’s pretty common for your boat motor to get hotter. But if it gets overheated often, consult an expert to keep the ignition coil safe and sound.
  • Never keep the ignition switch turned on without starting up your boat engine. 
  • If the ignition coil accidentally gets wet, never take assistance from the fire to get it dry. Rather, use a piece of a clean cloth to avoid potential risks and damages.
  • To avoid issues with the circuit shortcut, stay in touch with the connector, wire, and plugs by cleaning or checking them occasionally.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you have a detailed knowledge of the symptoms, causes, and maintenance, let’s learn more about the outboard ignition coil. For your convenience, I answered a few relevant queries collected from different forums:

How often should I replace my outboard ignition coil?

Honestly, there is no strict rule on how often you must replace the ignition coil. If you face any of the symptoms mentioned above, like misfiring, clicking sounds, or difficulty starting, and are unable to fix them, only then go for the replacement. 

What is the best way to deal with a bad outboard ignition coil if it gets corroded?

To eliminate corrosion from the outboard ignition coil, a wire brush can be the savior. A specific cleanser might be required if the amount appears high. In that case, call an expert for optimal feedback. 

How long should I spend replacing my outboard ignition coil?

It comes down to the level of experience you have. For DIYers, it might take around two hours to complete ignition coil replacements. Experts can get the job done within an hour or so.   

Can I drive with a faulty outboard ignition coil if it shows any of the above-written symptoms?

You can drive with a faulty outboard ignition coil unless it is causing the engine to shut off. That said, it isn’t recommended to go through a marine boat with a bad coil, as it will negatively impact other components.

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