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Boat Steering Troubleshooting Tips

Jul 05, 2021

less than a min

  • Boat Steering Troubleshooting Tips

    Boat steering troubleshooting tips can get you out of very dangerous situations. Imagine being stranded in the middle of the ocean and not knowing what you do when your steering system has issues and you cannot place the boat in the right direction. Mechanical, steer-by-wire, and hydraulic systems face problems quite often. Here is how you can overcome some of the most common ones. 

    Firstly, make sure to inspect your steering system periodically so you can be proactive about its efficiency and minimize problems. Use a boat management app such as TheBoatApp to always be on track with your boat maintenance. 

    Next, whenever you feel the steering system is not working correctly, return to the marina as soon as you can so that you can work on fixing the problem closer to land. Make sure everyone on board is safe before doing anything else. If you cannot move to port, try to at least move away from other vessels to avoid accidents. 

    If your steering system fails you when you are in open waters, call for help as soon as possible so you do not get stranded. 

    Last but not least, get to know your steering system so you can fix the most common problems yourself without too much hustle. 

    Here are some common boat steering troubleshooting tips for mechanical steering systems

    • If you are experiencing issues with a mechanical steering system, isolate each part of the system to find out the issue.  Disconnect the steering arm from the motor cable and check if the steering wheel turns. If the cable moves, then the problem lies in the motor, rudder or stern drive unit. If the steering wheel moves but the cable doesn’t, there is a problem at the helm. 
    • Add grease to the grease fitting of the stern drive, engine, and rudder to allow them to move freely. 
    • Clean the tilt tube annually or twice a year if you are using the boat in saltwater. Get professional help to disconnect and assemble all the pieces. 
    • Check that the cable is not tangled anywhere. 
    • Look at the helm in case there is a stripped gear. Replace the gear if necessary. 

    If you have a hydraulic steering system here are some boat steering troubleshooting tips to help you out:

    • Look for leaks and fix any component where the leak arises. 
    • Make sure the hydraulic fluid level is right because low fluid levels can cause steering problems. 
    • Ensure there is no air in the lines. 
    • Also, make sure there is nothing contaminating the hydraulic fluid. 

    Boat steering troubleshooting tips for steer by wire systems

    • These are electronic systems and need to be checked by professionals and specific software. Therefore, prevention is the best troubleshooting you can do. Make sure to check the steering system anytime you do maintenance checks on your boat and especially before a long trip as chances are you cannot fix any issues by yourself in the middle of the ocean.

    Follow these boat steering troubleshooting tips and learn more boat insights through our blog at TheBoatApp, the best app for boat management and maintenance. Be safe whenever you sail! 

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