How to Troubleshoot the Fuel Gauge on a Boat

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If the fuel gauge on your boat is not working correctly, you could get stuck out on the water. It would not be fun to paddle your way in from a mile out or perhaps even farther. You might think that you need to haul your boat off to the repair shop to have the gauge fixed, but you can troubleshoot the gauge right in the water with the help of a few tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Fuel
  • Ignition key
  • Screwdriver set
  • Automotive test light
  • Fill the tank with fuel.

  • Turn the key to the "On" position and notice if the fuel gauge moves at all. If the fuel gauge does not move, then tap the gauge with your finger. If the gauge moves, then you know that you have a gauge that is sticking and may need replacement. If the gauge still does not move, then go to next step.

  • Find the connectors on the back of the fuel gauge. Depending on your boat, you might need to remove the gauge with the screwdriver set. On some boats you can just look under the dash and see the back of the gauge. Wiggle the wire connectors and see if the gauge moves. If the gauge does not move, then notice on your automotive test light that you have one wire with an alligator clip and the other end looks like an ice pick. Inside the handle of the test light is a lightbulb. Attach the alligator clip to something metal; this is a ground connection. Touch the ice pick end of the test light to the connectors of the fuel gauge. If the light turns on, then you know that the gauge is getting power from the battery. If you are not getting power from the battery, check the connectors and wires back to the battery. If you are getting power to the gauge and it is still not working, move on to the next step.

  • Move to the fuel tank and locate the wire connectors attached to the fuel level indicator plate. Wiggle the wires and see if the gauge moves. If the gauge does not move, then remove the two wires. Pull the wires far enough away from the fuel tank so that if they were to arc, you would not ignite the fuel. Touch the two wires together while looking at the fuel gauge. If the gauge does not move, then it needs replacement. If the gauge moves, then your problem is with the fuel level indicator in the fuel tank and it will need to be replaced.

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References

  • Sam Smith; La Brea Tire; Los Angeles, California
  • Photo Credit boat image by choucashoot from Fotolia.com
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