1. Listen to the sound the lifeboat engine makes when it is tried out – Check to see if it is the familiar running noise or if it has an abnormal one.

2. Visual checks – Check for rusting areas, oil leaks and kinks in the fuel lines, cracks or bends in the lines associated with the ship’s lifeboat engine, chaffed hoses, paint discoloration in heat areas, distorted electrical cables, or damaged junctions for cable and housing, etc. for an overall view of the deformities.

3. Identify the problem by smelling it – Don’t underestimate your sense of smell as it can lead you to the source of the problems on board ships. Fuel is distinguishable by its smell, so check for leaks that could be dangerous and require immediate attention. Overcharging the batteries gives out a foul smell like an egg gone bad. The smell of burnt electrical wiring and components is quite unique too and could be made out easily.

4. Sense of touch – One can ascertain a few problems related to electrical and ship’s lifeboat engine components by simply touching them. Loosely mounted starters and regulators, heated wires and cables, damaged fuel lines and oil leaks, etc. to name a few could all be corrected.

5. Check the lube oil level in the crankcase by means of a dipstick

6. Check the clutch case oil level and place the clutch lever in the neutral position.

7. Check the diesel oil in the diesel oil level tank.

8. Drain the diesel oil through the drain valve provided and open the fuel outlet valve from the tank.

9. Remove the cover for the air inlet filter, if provided.

10. Check if the decompression lever is in the open position when the engine is not operational.



There could be several probable causes if the Outboard Motor fails to start. One has to take into account the lifeboat engines’ past history or maintenance record that was being followed. For developing a plan to troubleshoot the failure one needs to know the problems, which lifeboat engines are prone. Sometimes certain parameters are overlooked while regular maintenance is being carried out on ships. Listed below are some reasons that could be the cause of an engine not responding.

1. Empty the fuel tank.

2. Incorrectly attached fuel supply hose.

3. Damaged fuel supply hose.

4. Defective fuel pump.

5. Contaminated fuel.

6. Improper starting procedures.

7. Faulty, spoiled, or incorrect positioning of the spark plug(s).

8. Improper maintenance.

9. Emergency shut-off deactivated.

10. Undercharged starter battery.

11. Loose electrical connections.

12. Bad ignition coil.

13. Defective starter motor


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