Boat "cutting out" - maybe SAFE mode, I have clues Boat "cutting out" - maybe SAFE mode, I have clues
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    Boat "cutting out" - maybe SAFE mode, I have clues
from Randy B  
5/27/2012 1:57:10 PM


 2005 ETEC-HO 225 - no prior problems to speak of...

Yesterday, on the first time using my boat since winter, I thought things were going pretty good. It cranked instantly and out we went. We fished all day, so I had cranked and ran several times without issue. I ran 8miles without incident to check a place that looked good on the map but was devoid of cover and fish. Then, I bought some gas. On the run back (8 miles), I made it about 4 miles, running 50% throttle. At some point, I thought the water looked smooth enough to run faster, so I punched it. After a minute or so, the motor sudden "cut out", dropping down to an idle. I dropped off plane. It continued to idle nicely. I checked the water pressure (good) and the bulb on the oil and it didn't seem hot (I figure those things can make it go into SAFE mode.)

Though I only idled 10-15 seconds, I pressed the hotfoot and it had power again, so off we went again. After 1-2 minutes, it did it again. Same drill. Off we go again.

Here's my suspicion. At the gas place, the rubber o-ring on my perko gas cap broke. They gave it to me and I stuck it in my pocket. I am thinking maybe without that o-ring that somehow the tank could not "breathe". Maybe it pulled a vacuum on the tank and the computer somehow detected a fuel problem and cut out.

I had my partner loosen the fuel cap for the rest of the trip home and it did not repeat the problem - although it was only a few minutes more- maybe not enough time to do a test.


I don't remember seeing any diagnostic lights re: SAFE mode. I wish I had checked the fuel line bulb which might have looked collapsed if it was a vacuum issue. Obviously I will put on a new o-ring and use the boat again, but if there's something else to suspect, then I want to know so I can be on the lookout for those clues or do some preventative maintenance to put this behind me.

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   My first guess is from 5keepers  5/27/2012 3:03:20 PM
water from sitting all Winter. How many months sitting?
Is gas 100% gas or 10% ethanol? Did you treat gas?
My second guess is water/ethanol at gas stop.
I would put in a good water removal treatment and ethanol treatment if ethanol and try it again.
Ethanol is rough on 2 strokes.

   I second the guess that it is water in gas. from humminbird #11206 #11206  5/27/2012 6:45:14 PM

   My guess, too from Jeff Hahn  5/27/2012 7:14:21 PM
Yep, water in the gas was my guess, to. It could well be the "O" ring created a problem. But, I would give the gas a big dose of Marine Stabil. And, if you can, avoid marina gas. I have had too many friends damage their motor due to bad marina gasoline.

Jeff Hahn

Edited 5/27/2012 7:15:06 PM

   Answering those questions from Randy B  5/27/2012 11:10:40 PM
Thanks for sharing your ideas guys. I appreciate you taking the time to help.

Every fall when I winterize, I remove all the gas that I can using the squeeze bulb, then siphon method. There may be a gallon or two left in there. Then, yesterday morning I got about 10 gallons at the local high volume gas station; I reckon it is 10% ethanol. The boat ran fine on that gas.

Then I ran around all day and was worried that I might run out of gas, so I got gas at the marina - again 10 gallons. The guy at the marina was proud of his gas which he said was 100% gas (no ethanol). It's a busy marina on the "nautical mile" (west side of St Clair) so I think they turn over a lot of fuel, but any fuel tank can get contaminated.

Usually I fill at a street gas station.

I guess I could remove the gas using the bulb/siphon method - I think I have enough cans - and look in the bottom of the cans. Maybe I'd find water, maybe not since water is heavier than fuel so it will concentrate in the bottom of the boat tank. I could look down if there if someone would loan me a match. Ha!

The two treatments couldn't hurt. You remind me that I didn't put in any Ringfree either time - that's been my practice. I know it isn't specific for these particular problems, but I like using it anyway.

   filter from Dwight #10907 #10907  5/28/2012 8:35:45 AM
Pull the fuel filter and dump the contents in a glass jar if it has water in it you'll see it. If you use 10% ethanol blended fuel you shouldn't get water in it as the ethanol will mix with the water and burn but you can get phase separation. You have to treat the damn ethanol.

   If you want to check the very bottom of your gas tank from billsp from NJ #10585  5/28/2012 9:44:38 AM
Insert a short piece of 1/4 inch copper tubing into your siphon hose and safety wire it so it doesn't come out. Jack your trailer up or pull one side up on a curb so that the gas tank is lower on the filler cap side for a shorter siphon hose length run. Insert the weighted hose and siphon most of a gallon into a clear milk or windshield washer jug, any water will settle out.

   to siphon out the gas from Roy #15389 #15389  5/28/2012 6:29:07 PM
Just disconnect the gas line at the ball and add a length of tubing to reach into a gas can... squeeze the ball and viola, the gas should start flowing.

   Dwight, I don't understand your comment from humminbird #11206 #11206  5/29/2012 9:27:26 PM
"If you use 10% ethanol blended fuel you shouldn't get water in it as the ethanol will mix with the water and burn but you can get phase separation. You have to treat the damn ethanol".

Indeed, water will be absorbed by the ethanol and the resultant mixture will separate and fall to the bottom of the tank. Here it will be sucked into the engine causing the engine to cut out. Remember, ethanol has a greater affinity for water than for gasoline.


   Engine from Fish4Fun #11024 #11024  6/1/2012 12:37:09 PM
Had exact issue, mine was water pump impeller. It showed good water pressure but small pieces had broke loose and were inside cooling passage restricting cooling water flow.

   When it fails is the bulb in the gas line softer or hard? from Buzz  6/6/2012 3:52:43 PM
I've had a similar issue and part of it was resolved with a new bulb.

   I will go out tomorrow from Randy B  6/9/2012 8:48:59 AM
So I will get the boat. I plan to check the gas/water separator for any water. I also plan to retry cleaning that vent line. I already put the new o-ring on.

Then, I'll head to Lake St Clair and see what happens.

   Randy B; What were the results of your test run??????? from humminbird #11206 #11206  6/12/2012 8:42:49 PM

   well, I didn't go from Randy B  6/12/2012 11:31:42 PM
I had plans with two people. They bailed out on me. It was hot as the dickens and I had stuff to do, etc etc yada yada yada.

I reckon next weekend.....

   More data from Randy B  6/24/2012 7:48:42 PM
I went out and used the boat. The lake was a max 10 mph, but after idling around some, I punched it and had the same experience. It seemed normal and powerful then suddenly it cut back to "idle". It's like your foot is still on the hotfoot and someone cut the cable.

Back at the farm, I took the water separator canister off. I dumped it into a container and it didn't have any water in it.

Maybe the water impeller idea is right. I changed it 2 years ago and haven't put many hours on this boat. The pressure gauge at idle was 9psi. It was higher at higher rpm's but I didn't notice that.

I'm not confident that the water impeller would fix it. There's a good chance that I'd change it and still have the same problem.

I reckon I need to get someone to pull the diagnostics on it. It sure seems like if it was SAFE mode, I'd see some lights on the smartgauge though.

In short, I am still perplexed.

   Randy B, if this a DIY job, flush the entire system with a garden hose.... from humminbird #11206 #11206  7/6/2012 3:22:14 PM
while you have the the lower unit off. You could also flush sytsem through the termostat holes (2) before removing the LU and also after removing the LU. You could have a plugged system, but I doubt it based on the pressure readings you gave.


   Update from Randy B  7/8/2012 9:28:34 AM
Here's my latest info.

I had a trip to Lake St Claire and the boat just got worse and worse. Initially, I could get onto plane if I nursed it gently and run 3200 rpm. After a stop or two, I could not give enough gas (without it kicking back to idle) to get on plane. I had to idle back to the ramp eventually.
Next, I did some service work. I swapped out the plugs (which were fairly old and looked eroded and sooted up bad). I also loosened my lower cowling to access the exhaust port on the RH side. That's a little metal fitting that provides the pressure of the exhaust gases to the EMM. It was fairly clogged up so I followed the service manual and decarbonized it (soaking in carb cleaner repeatedly and gently cleaning it by hand with a drill bit, pipe cleaner, etc).

I also dropped my lower unit and looked at the water impeller which looked new.

I also inspected the TPS (throttle position sensor). Mechanically everything looked good. With an ohmmeter, I could see a smooth resistance change thruout the range. I saw 7100 ohms from red to black, 8300 ohms from red to green, and 2500 ohms from black to green. The manual calls for >3000 ohms from A to B and >4000 ohms from A to C, Obscurely, the diagram in the back shows A=red,B=black, and C=green. So that seems okay.

So yesterday, it was back to the lake. The plugs and exhaust port cleaning made a big difference. It felt fairly powerful and went onto plane easily. We fished and moved several times. It seemed great until, just once while really putting my foot into it, it did the same old problem - suddenly dropping back to idle. It was way up at 4500 rpm or so. Just once but the problem persists.

Even when it was running regularly, I was feeling like the motor just is not as strong as before.

I did a little more research, looking for potential reasons. I read there's a requirement to have > 1/4 tank of oil - some sensor that checks for low oil. I doubt this is the problem since it doesn't seem to relate to the evidence but I think I am just around 1/3 so I will add more oil for the next trip just to be sure.

I have ordered the diagnostic software so I can pull some codes off this thing.

In the meantime, any new ideas?

Edited 7/8/2012 10:43:38 AM

   How about the switch boxes (power packs)? from humminbird #11206 #11206  7/9/2012 1:57:56 PM
Randy, I'm not sure how you can test the switch boxes, but the cut outs you are experiencing could well be your switches boxes or the voltage coming from your coils (voltage is stepped up between 15,000 and 40,000 volts...which is required to jump the air gap of the spark plugs). Have you considered new spark plugs? This is the easiest to do and the cheapest. oops, you have an you have power packs so test them.




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