Solutions to Your Boat Ignition Switch Problems: 3 Things to Look for!

kayak ignition switch problem

You are planning a nice weekend with your boat. You are already, prepared and excited about your weekend plans.

Now the day comes and your boat ignition is not working properly. This is enough to ruin a perfect weekend and the weeklong plans behind it.

So, How to solve your boat ignition switch problems?

Most boat ignition problems can be found due to unprimed engines. Other problems such as failed starting sequence, and blocked exhausts can cause this issue. Dead batteries, electrical issues, and loose fuel lines can cause severe concerns as well. All of them possess a threat to ignition.

Relieved to find the root of your problem? Don’t worry. We have brought you the further elaboration on how you can solve them by yourself.

Then why wait? Hop into the journey of boat ignition repair.

Boat Switch Ignition Problems

How to Fix Boat Ignition

Although you might find your boat switch ignition stopped working suddenly, there have been some symptoms. These symptoms will give you an indication if you keep an eye on them.

Some of the symptoms are;

Grinding or Buzzing Noise

If you have a bad ignition, you might find constant buzzing noises coming from it. It usually happens from broken or unsafe electrical contact. Every time you turn on the ignition. It might start with a spark followed by a noise.

Replacing it should not be a major concern. Only by replacing the ignition switch can you fix this problem.

But don’t try to do it yourself if you are not used to handling electrical connections. A qualified technician might do a better job at that.

This is also a common sign of your engine not working properly.

If you’re planning to buy a new ignition switch key for your boat. We have presented you with our recommendation. These are the ones we personally use and feel comfortable with.

These are some of the really good ignition switch keys. Also, they would hold up against small electrical short circuits. So, you can easily trust them.

Jimmy Starting

faulty ignition switch

One of the major signs of having a faulty ignition switch is it would be jimmying. If your ignition switch is jimmying, there’s an issue with the electric contact.

You will find a disruption of electrical flow between the ignition keys. This problem might lead to a bigger issue. Such as broken switch heads, this is cause more issues in terms of starting in the long run.

Start Stall Operations

You will find a start stall operation issue if your ignition switch is faulty. In certain circumstances, this might even cause you to leave the boat stranded. This might become a much more major issue if you’re far from the shore.

This issue also can happen if you have a bad or faulty trigger outboard.

Difficulty in turning and removing the starter key

Issues with turning or removing the starter key can be associated with a bad ignition switch. A bad ignition switch jams the entire system. Causing the engine to start smoothly.

Due to this problem, you will find it hard to remove or turn the starter key.

Symptoms Of A Bad Ignition Switch

If your outboard won’t start, or if it starts but dies as soon as you let off the key, you may have a problem with your ignition switch. Here are some symptoms of a bad ignition switch on an outboard:

1. The engine won’t start. This is the most obvious symptom of a bad ignition switch. If the engine won’t start, it’s probably because the switch is not supplying power to the ignition system.

2. Engine starts but dies as soon as you let off the key. This can be caused by a bad connection between the switch and the ignition system. If the connection is loose, intermittent, or broken, it can cause the engine to start and then die as soon as you let off the key.

3. The engine runs but is hard to start. If the ignition switch is not supplying enough power to the ignition system, it can make the engine hard to start.

4. The starter doesn’t work. If your outboard has an electric starter, it won’t work if the ignition switch is not supplying power to the starter motor.

5. Accessories don’t work. If your outboard has accessories like lights or a bilge pump, they may not work if the ignition switch is not supplying power to them.

How to Replace the Ignition Switch on a Boat?

Even though you can try to fix the ignition switch, it’s best to get a new one. Getting the switch replaced makes the whole operation much smoother.

We have broken down the entire procedure of replacing the ignition switch for you. Here is the process;

Step 1: Get the Exact Replacement

You will find different types of ignition switches on the market. But when it comes to compatibility, only a few of them will work. Every boat’s ignition switch works in a certain way.

You will need to ensure a compatible ignition switch. Or this issue will keep on recurring. Also, if you ever have to remove the steering wheel, you will need to do the same.

Step 2: Access the Starter or Control Switch Board

Get the electrical housing off and disassemble the ignition connection.

Step 3: Disconnect the faulty

Ignition Switch from the Electrical Lines

Here is the complicated part. You will need to remove the connectors between the ignition switch and the electrical connection. Remember the connection of the ignition switch before removing it.

Then reinstall the new ignition switch. If you have correctly remembered how the old one was installed, then it should be easy. If you can’t, get a professional technician to do it for you.

Step 4: Install the New Ignition and Place the Boot Nut

Connect the new ignition switch. The next and final step would be to fit the boot nut correctly. If you have successfully done that, redo the wiring properly.

Then, screw in the ignition switch housing again.

If you follow this process, your ignition switch will be replaced successfully. As a result, your boat will start running like new and smoothly.

Ensure that your boat has no other problems getting through a smoother weekend plan.

How to Fix No Power to Ignition Switch?

Sometimes, You are not in a situation to replace the ignition switch immediately. Then fixing it is the only solution momentarily. If your ignition switch has no power, there is a way to fix it. Which is;

You will need a multimeter to take a reading of your ignition switch. Ensure to take it to the start position before you take reading. If it’s turned off then you will not get any reading.

Once you get the reading one, observe whether the reading is over 9.5V(DC) or not. If the reading shows over 9.5V, your ignition switch is having sufficient electrical flow going into it.

Fix the ignition switch back into its original position. Then restart your boat. It should start working again. If your boat does not start, replacing is the only solution.

In cases such as this, if you are offshore, then immediately call for help.


ignition switch has gone bad 1

How do I know if my ignition switch has gone bad?

To determine if your ignition switch has gone bad or not, turn your ignition at first. Then with a multimeter determine the voltage that is going into it. If the reading is over 9.5V, then restart the engine again. If this test fails, you have voltage loss between the battery and the starter.

What problems do ignition switches cause?

The first problem that you will face is the inability to deliver power to the starter motor. Also, sufficient power won’t reach the ignition system and other engine functions. But they might be caused by other factors such as dead batteries or engine difficulties themselves.

How do you bypass an Ignition Switch?

Connect both positive sides of the terminal of the battery and the ignition coil. Also, find the starter solenoid. Then connect the solenoid to the positive terminal battery. After that, unplug the ignition switch wire from the solenoid. Finally, short the solenoid’s terminal and then reach the point where the ignition switch is connected.

How long do ignition switches last?

Generally speaking, if you use your boat regularly and keep up with maintenance, your ignition switch should last between 5-8 years. However, if you don’t use your boat often or don’t keep up with maintenance, your ignition switch may only last 3-5 years. Additionally, if your boat is kept in a salt water environment, the lifespan of your ignition switch will be shortened due to corrosion.


So this is all we had on boat ignition switch problems and how to fix them. I hope you have a better understanding of what you need to do if you face it.

Fixing it yourself might be an efficient way to do it. But it has electricity which can be lethal. So, do follow safety measures when you are working with electronics.

Good luck with your ignition switch. Until then, have a beautiful day.

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