Common Pontoon Boat Problems and Fixes

Just like any other boat, pontoon boats aren’t always all fun and games. Sometimes they have issues that need to be fixed. Besides the common boat problems, pontoon boat faults often arise from the engine. However, fixing the engine requires some knowledge to understand their complex nature before you attempt to fix them. The large tubes on pontoon boats, also referred to as pontoons that enable the boat to have a lot of buoyance, make the boat quite unique and, at the same time, complex. Familiarizing yourself with the common pontoon boat problems and how to fix them easily will go a long way to ensuring you are adequately prepared to handle any issue that arises.

Common Pontoon Boat Problems and Fixes

Engine Problems

The pontoon boat has four typical engine problems that vary in severity and cause:

Overheating Engine

Important: If you're interested in getting into outdoor activities, want to know the essentials and the best tips for getting into your new activity, and impress your family with a great day outdoors, download our Outdoor Activity Solutions book now. 
One of the significant issues of pontoon boats is overheating in the engine. This problem is most often not fixed right away as most pontoon boat owners tend to overlook it. However, overlooking an overheating engine is a grave mistake as it can result in a complete breakdown. Engine break down while on the water is expensive as it is inconvenient.

Please keep checking the temperature gauge making sure it stays at safe levels. If you happen to notice that the temperature is increasing significantly, then you will have to look out for any blockage near the engine and refill the cooling loop with adequate water. Remember to keep a rod or a soft wire in the boat at all times, as it may be useful in unclogging intake clogs in case of a blockage.

Besides clogging problems, your boat may be experiencing breaking in the drive belt. This may be impossible to hear with all the engine noise while you are on the move, but an alternator that is not charging and an overheating engine are clear signs that you could be going through drive belt breaking. With a faulty belt, you have no water pump or an alternator, and without water to cool off your engine, it will overheat.

Regularly inspect and tighten your belt and to be on the safe side during such emergencies, always carry a spare belt on board.

Engine Losing Power or Sputtering

If you are sure that you have enough gas, but your boat still feels dragging, you could have filter problems or faulty plugs. Faulty filters and plugs will hinder the flow of fuel, causing insufficient fuel supply for the boat’s smooth operation.

Regularly inspect your filter to ensure that they are not clogged. Please take off the filter, and clear existing debris then drain it in water. If it still doesn’t work, then you’ll need an in-line fuel filter (view on Amazon) replacement.

Leaving your tank almost empty for lengthy periods may also lead to condensation of water or moisture in your gas, which may degrade it. During winter, winterize your boat by getting a good fuel stabilizer to help your gas remain in good condition but only if used correctly.

The other reason why your boat could be losing power or sputtering is due to faulty spark plugs. Spark plugs play a significant role in igniting your cylinders to get your pontoon boat started. The best you can do with faulty plugs is to get them to replace. Having spare parts on board is always a good idea.

Smoke Emitting from the Exhaust

Smoke emission from the exhaust quite often causes panic for boat owners. It, however, does not always mean that the engine is failing. Smoke emitting from the exhaust is most often caused by a faulty injector, degraded fuel, or incorrect oil levels. When oil levels are too high during the combustion process, the excess unburnt oil is usually directed to the exhaust resulting in smoke emitting from the exhaust pipe.

Engine Won’t Start or Dead

The reason your engine is dead or won’t start maybe because you ran out of fuel, or perhaps someone bumped on the kill switch. If not, you could have electrical problems resulting from a blown fuse or a tripped breaker. Corrosion on electrical parts or loose connections is also common culprits for dead engines or engines that won’t just start.

Imagine getting all set and ready to move, but your engine won’t just start? It could be an electrical issue such as a faulty ignition circuit or a battery problem. Your battery may be heavily corroded or maybe dead. Check out your battery for any malfunctions and ensure that it is secured and hooked up correctly.

This problem can be prevented by regular inspection of the electrical wiring and the battery. As you clean and replace faulty wiring, also ensure that the battery free of corrosion, is not too old, and is in good working condition.

Equipment Related Problems

While the majority of the pontoon boat problems may arise from the engine, it is not the only cause of the issues. The pontoon boat is complex and has numerous parts and components that could malfunction. If one component malfunctions, several other parts could be affected, resulting in your pontoon boat’s problems. Here are some of the issues resulting from the pontoon boat’s equipment.

Pontoon Boat vibrating

When your pontoon boat vibrates, it could be an indication of an underlying problem; more so, if the vibration increases, the faster you go. Quite often, the vibration is brought about by a faulty prop. There are numerous possible reasons why a prop could be the cause of the vibration. These reasons include;

  • A direct hit on the prop can disfigure the prop’s metal and make it lose some of its metal, resulting in prop ineffectiveness.
  • A fishing line or a towrope can be stuck and hinder the shaft’s movement causing the vibration.
  • A gouge or nick in the blade causes imbalance, which in turn results in vibration.

The best way to minimize the likeliness of a hit on the prop is to get the motor raised when in very shallow waters. Replacing or changing a faulty motor while you are on the water is not an alternative to the problem. The best you can do is to slow down and head to the shores. Try as much as possible not to drive on a faulty prop as it may result in other problems in various components of your engine that will affect your pontoon boat’s general performance. Still, you can bring onboard a spare prop and necessary tools required for its installation. If you get an opportunity to replace it away from home may be on another shore. Remember also to bring along gloves to keep your hands safe from the blades.

Boat Won’t Shift

If you are unable to shift your pontoon boat from idle speed, the reason could be because your shifter does not engage your transmission. Generally, most boats have mechanical cable shifts. Most often, mechanical shifters issues arise from the stuck or broken linkage. Check the great box to ensure that the cable is not detached.

This problem could also arise from transmission failure. Unfortunately, if this is the case, you may not be able to fix it while you are on the water. Transmission problems are commonly caused by inadequate oil or fluid. Check out your oil levels, top off or change as instructed by the service manual. Remember to bring along extra oil or fluid just in case you run out of them.

The boat Won’t Steer

If your attempts to steer your pontoon boat are all in vain, you could be experiencing problems with your hydraulic fluid. The hydraulic fluid could be below the recommended level and needs to be topped off, or you could be having a leak. Top off your fluid if need be and look out for traces of fluids from leaking out of the fitting near your engine or from the console. If you discover a leakage from the fitting, try tightening it to fix the issue.

If you notice a frozen drive, your boat could be experiencing a mechanical failure that involves a loose steering arm connection. This could be in any section of the steering system. As the exact location of the problem is unknown, trace the whole line to locate the problem.

The best way to prevent this issue is by regularly checking the fluid level of the steering and lubricating the mechanical systems. You may also want to bring on board extra hydraulic fluid and a fluid funnel.

Problems Related to the Pontoon Body

Hull Problems

Over time, a pontoon boat’s hull wears out and gets fractures or cracks. These cracks or fractures continue to get worse with time, so you might want to fix them as soon as you can before they become unmanageable. Inspect the laminate beneath the surface for any bubbles, wrinkles, cracks, and other inconsistencies. Also, remember to check the meeting point of the hull and the flooring, the deck, or the furniture. Proper Maintenace of these parts minimizes the possibilities of having problems in the future.

Pontoon Tube Problems

The most common cause of damaged pontoon tubes is the impact from the bottom of the dock or lake. If the tube hits something, it could end up cracked, and then it will start leaking. Hitting objects in shallow water can also crack or bend the tubes causing them to leak. Placing the logs of your pontoon on the bottom of the lake during low water periods can subject your pontoon logs to corrosion as dissolved oxygen will be stopped by the mud from reaching the aluminum in the water. Lack of oxidation protection on the tube’s aluminum will result in corrosion.

Be careful when trailering your pontoon boat as hitting the trailer or driving through rough roads can impact heavily on the tubes causing damages.

Ensure that the logs of your pontoon are straightly set. If sailing in salty water, be sure to check your pontoon tubes for signs of metal destruction from corrosion caused by the saltwater. Regularly inspect your pontoon tubes and adhere to strict maintenance practices to ensure the smooth operation of your pontoon boat.

Seasonal maintenance of your pontoon boat will improve its longevity and fuel efficiency. In case of problems, you should desist from replacing faulty components with knockoffs as brand manufactured parts stand the test of time a lot more than fake products. When you are not using your pontoon boat, shield your engine with a canvas or plastic cover. Remember always to flush out your engine after trips, ensure the water pump has sufficient water flow, and inspect your engine for any leaks for the smooth operation of your pontoon boat. Bring on board the basics and constantly check out on your engine.