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fishraptor

Optimax 200 (only cold weather starting issues)

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I have had my 21' Mako w/the Opti 200 for 5 years now. Boat is not that old, think 2012 or so. 

It has always been a relatively good starting motor however except for just a few occasions, most (but not all ) being in the colder late fall weather. 

On those occasions the motor turns over but simply does not fire and quickly drains and needs a jump. Upon jumping it fires immediately. 

 

I suspected batteries so replaced with BIG dollar "glass lined" boat batters.  It has two and both are in front lower compartment ahead of steering wheel. 

I replaced with one 1000CCA and the other 1320CCA so when A/B switch is switched to both theoretically I have 2350 Cold Cranking amps. 

 

Even this did not solve the problem as again this past late fall when temp was 38 degrees she cranked and cranked but did not fire and this time when I pulled her out of water

and jumped off my F350 Dually (which has 2 batteries) she did not fire and I gave up. The boat batteries were JUST CHARGED that morning and amp gauge on battery charger

went to zero indicating batteries were fully charged. 

 

All connections are ABSOLUTElY spotless and super clean.  I have NOT taken apart the A/B switch to see if there is any corrosion but the boat is not that old and I am guessing

not the issue. Do these switches go bad ?  Someone advised that since boat batteries are a LONG way from the motor (14' guessing) because of long cables to compartment in front of driving wheel thinking

maybe a drop of voltage, but having 2350 CCA should overcome that I would guess.  Others state maybe Mako did not use heavy enough battery cable and to switch to double Ought. ??

 

In summer warm weather starting is great.....

 

There is a conneting "block" in the bilge area where battery cables coming from front fasten with eyelets and opposite side cables heads out to Optimax 200.... that block is mint clean. 

I found NO corrosion so far.  I have not checked ground in/on Opti block but supposidley marina did and all looked good. 

 

Can anyone shed any light as to what the problem might be ?     I would assume Optimax's will not start under low voltage but I have 2350 CCA !!!!!   These batteries are monsters.

One group 29 and one group 31. brand new.   Boat did the same with older batteries so guessing that the batteries are not the issue.  Plus everytime the problem arouse I quick jump

and the Opti leaped to life EXCEPT for this past fall when it was 38 degrees. 

 

Hope someone can help......

 

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Batteries do not supply spark to the spark plugs, they spin the engine via the fly wheel by the starting motor. 

Automotive batteries are different then marine batteries regarding case and plate thickness to take more pounding when used in boats, cranking amps are cranking amps.

Your engine may have tired spark plugs, power packs or a fuel filter issue. Gasoline doesn't atomize ( mix with air) well in cold temps so the engine can flood easier ( too much gasoline to air ratio becoming a liquid that doesn't burn).

1. Check the spark plugs, if they are wet and black, they are not firing and must be changed.

2. Batteries in parallel are only as good as the weakest battery, they should be the same size and in the same condition. If the engine turns over at a normal speed your problem starting isn't the batteries.

Tom

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Like Tom stated check the plugs.  If you replace them make sure you get the correct ones.  Also check the plug wires.  Are you running non ethanol 91 octane fresh gasoline?

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1 hour ago, WRB said:

Batteries do not supply spark to the spark plugs, they spin the engine via the fly wheel by the starting motor. 

Automotive batteries are different then marine batteries regarding case and plate thickness to take more pounding when used in boats, cranking amps are cranking amps.

Your engine may have tired spark plugs, power packs or a fuel filter issue. Gasoline doesn't atomize ( mix with air) well in cold temps so the engine can flood easier ( too much gasoline to air ratio becoming a liquid that doesn't burn).

1. Check the spark plugs, if they are wet and black, they are not firing and must be changed.

2. Batteries in parallel are only as good as the weakest battery, they should be the same size and in the same condition. If the engine turns over at a normal speed your problem starting isn't the batteries.

Tom

Thanks for the reply.     to follow up...

 

plugs are new...   I ONLY used non-ethanol gas and it is always fresh and fuel filter was just changed.   I do realize that batteries in parallel are only as good as the weakest battery but both batteries charge to "Zero" on the amp meter on the battery charger and hence telling me "I'm full". 

 

This problem "mainly" only happens below 40 degrees but did happen on summer day once, but quick jump and she leaped to life.

You can pretty much count on it happening below 40 and that is what is puzzling me.  As far as turning over slow ???? it does seem that

"POSSIBLY" it may be turning over a tad slower but almost non noticible and with the jump from the Dually it should have fired. 

 

How does one check power packs, what the heck is a power pack ?   Coil I presume ??

Also you mention batteries should be of the same size ???  That's a new one on me.  Why ?  They used to be the same size but when I replaced the older ones (group 27 or 29 ?? can't remember) I put one group 31 as the main with 1320 CCA.  It is the heaviest battery I have EVER picked up.

Both are those Glass lined marine batteries. 

 

Now my Basscat Cougar only has one battery and it is a 250HP and she fires fine but battery is infinately closer to motor.  Looks like I have to find a real good Merc man to cure as I need this motor to fire for the very late fall bite.      

 

The day that the Opti 200 didn't fire at 38 degrees, next day temp was close to 50 and she fired, not quickly but did. 

 

This has been an ongoing problem for a few years now it's just this past time that a jump did not fire her. 

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A single full charged GP 27 AGM (13.5 V) should start your OB. Different size batteries drain at different rates, smaller and older the faster they drop voltage. , below 11.5V, it's not going to turn over your OB.

Power packs, 1 for each 3 cylinders, are similar to a coil, 5 years You might want to replace them. Everything is slower moving when it's below 40 degrees including me!

Sounds like you are doing everything right, some engines doesn't like the cold temps, does back fire?  Do you prime the engine using the key for a second before cranking it over?

Tom

 

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1 hour ago, WRB said:

A single full charged GP 27 AGM (13.5 V) should start your OB. Different size batteries drain at different rates, smaller and older the faster they drop voltage. , below 11.5V, it's not going to turn over your OB.

Power packs, 1 for each 3 cylinders, are similar to a coil, 5 years You might want to replace them. Everything is slower moving when it's below 40 degrees including me!

Sounds like you are doing everything right, some engines doesn't like the cold temps, does back fire?  Do you prime the engine using the key for a second before cranking it over?

Tom

 

answering some of WRG q's...

No, engine doesn't backfire, just cranks...

do I prime the engine using the key ??   When I bought the boat I was told just to turn key, don't know about priming.... didn't know that function existed......  but would assume that after trying key SEVERAL times there would be adequate fuel for a "fire"....

 

is there a "check" for the Power packs or is it just a "replace" and hope for the best. They sound expensive....

 

I guess I never did ask the million dollar (most important) question:   Do Optimax 200's generally start good in cold weather (say 20 to 40 deg) or

are they typically scoundrels ?   If I knew everyone elses motors were firing good to great at these temps then I would know that I definately have

an issue.   

 

Oh, by the way..... when I use the boat during the summer the motor runs SUPER strong with lots of power and throttle response. Could not be happier..... and in the summer at the Cape she will fire dozens and dozens of times during the day.  Other than the "problem" starting in cold the motor rips......

 

P.S. I JUST thought of something.....  While at the Cape I do a fair amount of trolling at idle, for long periods of time, 30 min to 1 plus hours.....

After trolling at idle for that long period of time I DO NOTICE she will run a tad rough (skip slightly) for say 30 seconds at full throttle before she "cleans out"  and returns to 100 smooth running. 

I have NO IDEA if that has anything to do (related to)  the "cold weather starting" issue. 

You would think with todays "hot" ignition systems  that you could idle the motor forever without it "loading up" so to speak. 

 

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Get the injectors cleaned

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Have you checked your primer bulb and fuel lines?

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I would check you batter switch first, had a 200 opti and when the voltage drops below 11.5(I believe) the ECU will not function. I had corrosion in the switch, once cleaned the issue disappeared. I think the length of battery cable run and cold weather are probably contributing to the voltage drop. Only takes a minute to check voltage past the switch.  

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My 200 Opti ran great, including in the 'cold'.

Cranking battery is located in a stern space 2 ft from the motor - just for reference. 

Here it is starting in 38 degree water (with ice still on the lake).

A-Jay

 

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13 hours ago, Jig Man said:

Have you checked your primer bulb and fuel lines?

 

I always prime (pump up) the bulb hard prior to starting and this problem only exists when below 40 degrees so would not guess these would be the issues. thanks anyway.....

27 minutes ago, A-Jay said:

My 200 Opti ran great, including in the 'cold'.

Cranking battery is located in a stern space 2 ft from the motor - just for reference. 

Here it is starting in 38 degree water (with ice still on the lake).

A-Jay

 

nice video !!!!   now theres a man who likes to "start early"

 

I did check with a Merc mechanic and was advised that the 200 Opti do start fine in cold weather. 

1 hour ago, Fishstalker001 said:

I would check you batter switch first, had a 200 opti and when the voltage drops below 11.5(I believe) the ECU will not function. I had corrosion in the switch, once cleaned the issue disappeared. I think the length of battery cable run and cold weather are probably contributing to the voltage drop. Only takes a minute to check voltage past the switch.  

 

That is one thing that I have not done..... dissassemble the A/B switch to see if corrosion.  I would imagine they do come appart as you have to afix the battery cables inside them.  This I will do. Thanks for the reference. 

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You can try most anything, but you will probably be throwing your money and time away until you put a new battery in it.

DFI motors, like the Opti-Max require a strong cranking battery.  You have already diagnosed the problem when you say it only does it in cold weather and pulls the battery down quickly, the battery is junk.

A bad battery can still spin the motor but the voltage drops too low to fire the injectors and may not even be turning on the ignition. 

When a battery is real cold, it only has about half the cranking capacity as a warm battery.  Add that to the fact a cold motor is harder to spin, the battery just does not have balls enough left in it  to deliver the voltage the motor needs to start.

When you put the new battery in, buy a good one with plenty of MCA/CCA, at least a group 27 size.

 

You also mentioned a quick jump and it usually starts.  That is a scary situation.  It's very easy to blow the ECU connecting and disconnecting jumper cables to a battery.  The arc sometimes generated doing that is several hundred volts.  Electronics don't like seeing that kind of voltage spike.

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1 hour ago, Way2slow said:

You can try most anything, but you will probably be throwing your money and time away until you put a new battery in it.

DFI motors, like the Opti-Max require a strong cranking battery.  You have already diagnosed the problem when you say it only does it in cold weather and pulls the battery down quickly, the battery is junk.

A bad battery can still spin the motor but the voltage drops too low to fire the injectors and may not even be turning on the ignition. 

When a battery is real cold, it only has about half the cranking capacity as a warm battery.  Add that to the fact a cold motor is harder to spin, the battery just does not have balls enough left in it  to deliver the voltage the motor needs to start.

When you put the new battery in, buy a good one with plenty of MCA/CCA, at least a group 27 size.

 

You also mentioned a quick jump and it usually starts.  That is a scary situation.  It's very easy to blow the ECU connecting and disconnecting jumper cables to a battery.  The arc sometimes generated doing that is several hundred volts.  Electronics don't like seeing that kind of voltage spike.

 

Hi Way2slow, read your reply and have the following comments

 

I hear what you say but I highly doubt it is the batteries as this problem existed with the old batteries which had far less CCA than the monsters I put in now. I think I spent close to $800 or more for the Oddyssey batteries.  One is 1000 CCA (group 27) and the other is 1350 CCA (group 31) so I have a combined CCA of 2350 which is WAY more than enough to get the job done.  They were FULLY CHARGED that morning before I left. Plus when it didn't fire I jumped it off my F350 Dually which also has two new big batteries.  So we can rule out batteries (current). 

 

Just got back from the Merc dealer, told him the issue.... he said could be a lot of things...... Temp sensor could be failing not telling the motor to "choke",  he mentioned a number of things that I could not do as you needed diagnostic equipment.  He advised that the 200 DFI Opti are not known to start hard in cold weather, he advised, somethings a muck....  so I decided I will bring it to him to scope out.  

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Sometimes I make too many assumptions.  I assumed you didn't have a good digital voltmeter and don't know how to use one.   If that was the wrong assumption, it's easy enough to eliminate the battery as being the problem.  It will most likely require two people but the next cold morning take a couple of readings, this can be done in the driveway with it in a tank or on a hose.

Connect a digital voltmeter across the two battery post.  That's the battery post, not the connecters connected to them.  Depending on the battery, you should be seeing 12.6 to 12.8VDC if they are good and fully charged. 

Now, without moving the meter leads, try cranking the motor while watching the voltage.  If it's dropping below about 10.6VDC, that battery does not have the necessary cranking amps.  I personally don't like them to drop below 11VDC.  The voltage drop is sole determined by the size and condition of the battery and the cranking amps being applied to it. 

Now, if the voltage drop is not too great and it is holding voltage, move the meter leads off the battery across the two terminals connected to the post and try cranking it again.  If the voltage drop is more there than when on the post, you have a bad connection on one of the terminals. 

Next test would be connecting the negative test lead to the engine block someplace you can be sure you are on bare metal.   Connect the meters positive lead to the terminal on the starter solenoid the battery cable connects to and try cranking it.  Again, you should read the same voltage you were reading at the battery.  If not, then you have a bad connection, either ground or positive at the solenoid or something in between the two, like a disconnect switch or something.

If things are good to that point, move the positive test lead to the starter terminal and try it.  You still should be within a couple tenths of what the battery had, if not, either the starter solenoid has a bad contact or the starter cable between the two.

Now, if you find voltage drops, it's easy to isolate if it's ground or positive by leaving on lead on the battery post and going up the current path with the other lead until you find the drop. If you don't find it with that lead, swap them, at the battery post and start going up that post's current path until you find the drop.

Now, if you want to make a quick check, read across the battery to make sure the voltage is good, and then between ground and the starters terminal.  If it's still good there then you don't have a battery or connection problem. 

 

I still maintain you have a battery problem, or possibly a connection problem at the battery because a good battery is not going to pull down to where it won't crank the motor over, very quickly and the fact you it starts on jumper cables.  Like I said, I think your are wasting time and money until you eliminate the battery being the cause.

 

Oh, and not cranking off your dually, that's depends on your jumper cables,  If you are not using at least, 6 AWG cables with good clamps, and preferably at least 2 AWG,  all bets are off on whether or not your jumper cables will crank it.  Those $10 - $20 things are not worth the time it take to connect them.

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