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4 Symptoms of A Bad Trigger Outboard: The Most Common Signs

outboard trigger

An outboard trigger is a device used to trigger an external device or system, such as a camera, flash, or audio recording device. It is often used in photography and other fields where precise timing is required.

What is Outboard Trigger?

faulty trigger

An outboard trigger typically sends a signal to the external device to activate it at a specific moment. This can be useful in situations where the device being triggered needs to be in a specific position or situation before being activated. For example, in photography, an outboard trigger can be used to activate a camera or flash at a specific moment in a shot, such as when a subject is in the perfect position.

They come in various forms, including wired and wireless versions. Wired triggers use a cable to connect the trigger to the external device, while wireless triggers use radio signals to communicate between the two devices. Some outboard triggers also offer additional features, such as adjustable delay times, burst modes, or remote control options.

It’s always fun roaming around in the waters on your beautiful outboard. But the whole experience could be ruined if you encounter a bad trigger. We understand if you are concerned about it every time you ride your outboard.

So, what are the symptoms of a bad trigger ?

There are several symptoms that indicate directly a bad trigger. Your outboard could fail to start due to having no spark. You may find it hard to start after some idle time. Your engine could encounter a “miss” or might not wield enough power. Or maybe, could stall frequently.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a detailed explanation of these symptoms and much more discussed in this article.

So, what’s holding you back? Start reading!

4 Symptoms of A Bad Trigger

Now, we are mentioning the most common signs that mean you should check your trigger. These symptoms are discussed in detail down below:

Symptom 1 of 4: There Is No Spark

You may get no spark in the engine for ignition. Consequently, your engine will fail to start. It is a very common indicator that your trigger needs to be checked.

In this case, the flow of sufficient voltage or sparks to one or several cylinders is being obstructed. This results in misfires and a shaky ignition.

This is a clear indication that your trigger isn’t providing the signal. This signal is required for steady voltage flow to the cylinders.

Symptom 2 of 4: Ignition Gets Harder

Imagine you went to a place with your outboard and left it idle for some time. When you return to start it, the ignition gets harder to run. Frustrating, isn’t it?

This is a common issue that happens due to weak sparks. It’s the same case when it takes exceedingly more time to start.

This happens mostly because of a bad trigger. Go ahead and check it to see if it’s actually the case. If yes, replace the  trigger.

Symptom 3 of 4: Engine Experiences A “Miss”

A ‘’miss’’ or a misfire basically means that your engine is failing immediately after every ignition. Sometimes you’ll get ignition but the acceleration will be super slow. And you will find it hard to get your outboard up to speed.

This is also an indicator of a bad trigger. This is a very common sight after using the outboard for an extended period of time. This is super annoying in the middle of a nice ride.

If you are facing this issue, check the  trigger properly. If the trigger is the culprit, replace it by yourself or with the help of a mechanic.

Symptom 4 of 4: Frequent Stalling of The Engine

This is the most frustrating symptom out there. Imagine you are out on a beautiful day on your outboard and it keeps stalling frequently.

This also happens due to the engine not getting sufficient power or sparks. Even though insufficient fuel could also cause it, a bad trigger can too be the culprit.

Diligently inspect the fuel intake. If it is intact, you can confirm that it’s a bad trigger. Replace it as soon as you can.

While you could face several problems with your outboard engine, you can’t always pin it on the trigger. There could be several other components that could cause these problems.

Before suspecting the trigger, always inspect the stator first. Use an ohmmeter to be certain it’s the trigger.

What to Do If It’s A Bad Trigger?

Mercury Outboard Trigger Bench Test

If you can confirm that it’s a bad trigger, there is no other option but to get a new one. However, as we mentioned earlier, it could be the other components as well.

Before deducing that it’s the trigger, inspect its condition before calling the professionals.

First, get your hands on an ohmmeter. Bring it near the outboard or take the trigger somewhere else. Now locate the two sets of wires.

Each set of wires has 3 other wires in them. They are colored brown, white, and purple.

Now, connect one of the probes of the ohmmeter to the brown wire of a wire set. Connect the other probe to the purple wire of the other wire set. Now, take the readings.

The reading should be somewhere around 1.2 Kilo-ohms. The numbers may vary a little.

Now, repeat the same action for the white and purple wires from different sets. And again do the same for the purple and white wires from different wire sets.

The readings from these three actions should be the same. If they are, your  trigger is doing just fine. If they are not, get yourself a new outboard trigger.

This way you can confirm if it’s your trigger or some component that’s troubling you. Trust us, this will save you a lot of time and money.

Look for any sort of physical damage on the trigger. If there is a broken coil or insulation, it would reduce your hassles by a huge margin.

Ignition coil problems are much more common in Mercruiser outboards. Look at the symptoms of coil problems if you have a Mercruiser outboard to rule it out.

Steps to Test Outboard Trigger

  1. First of all, see whether there is any physical damage to the component. A damaged coil or broken insulation would save you the trouble to perform other steps.
  2. After that, bring a multimeter or an ohmmeter close to the outboard engine. You can also take out the trigger and test it in your garage.
  3. Now, you can see that two sets of wires having 3 each. Among the three, there are white, brown, and purple color wires.
  4. Take the meter’s two probes, and connect them to one set’s brown and another set’s purple. It should read about 1200 ohms or 1.2 kilo-ohms. The reading can be slightly different.
  5. Next, repeat the previous step for one set’s white and another set’s brown.
  6. Again, do it, and this time purple to white. All three readings should be the same.

How Expensive Is Repairing A Bad trigger?

Honestly, getting yourself a new outboard trigger is not that expensive. It would cost you about $150 or even less to get a new one.

If you know how to change the trigger yourself, this is all it’ll cost you. You won’t need another buck to repair the trigger.

If you don’t know how to change it, calling the mechanic is your only resort. But don’t worry, even the mechanics don’t charge much to change a trigger. A mechanic would charge $100 at most and much less if it’s winter.

Thus, you can wrap this whole thing for $250 very easily. The prices may vary a little depending on your geolocation. If mechanics are fairly available in your area, it shouldn’t cost too much at all.

However, if you don’t confirm first that your trigger’s the problem, it’d cost you much more. You would need to find the problematic component first and then replace it.

You can check the stator to confirm if it is doing fine or not. If you have a mercury outboard, you can easily look for symptoms of a bad stator.


Will your outboard still run with a faulty trigger?

Well, there is a chance that your outboard will still run with a faulty trigger. But it wouldn’t be for very long. Your outboard will keep stalling and not accelerate to your satisfaction. You’ll find it harder to ignite the engine. Hence, we recommend you replace it to escape the frustration.

What causes an engine to stall at full throttle?

It’s mostly a clogged air filter that causes an engine to stall while at full throttle. It devoids the engine of oxygen causing it to starve to death. When you’re in full throttle, you’ll require a lot of oxygen to burn. If the air filter is clogged, the engine can’t get the oxygen that it needs.

Is trigger and stator the same thing?

No, the trigger and stator are two different components. The stator is a device that generates electricity, while the trigger is an electronic device that sends a signal to the stator in order to control the flow of electricity. The stator is typically located under the flywheel, while the trigger is typically located near the stator.

How does a outboard trigger work?

Outboard triggers work by sensing the position of the flywheel’s magnets and sending a signal to the switchbox when to fire. As the flywheel rotates, the magnets pass the trigger coils, producing an alternating current (AC) voltage. This AC voltage is then conducted to an electronic switch (SCR) in the switchbox, which triggers the spark plugs to fire. The trigger assembly helps to ensure that the spark plugs fire at the right time for the engine to run properly.

Final Thoughts

By now you should be clear about the symptoms of a bad trigger. Hence, it should be dealt with immediately to prevent any more damage to your beloved outboard. Always inspect other components first before calling the professionals to replace the trigger.

We will see you in another article real soon. Till then, Happy Outboarding!

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