Tracker 800sx Problems – How to Diagnosen and Fix Them

Tracker 800sx Problems

Fishing from a Tracker 800sx can make for an amazing day on the water when everything is working properly. But what do you do when your dependable Tracker develops issues and you’re stuck with a boat that’s hard to start, lacks power, or is overheating?

The good news is that armed with some troubleshooting knowledge, you can likely diagnose and fix many common Tracker 800sx problems yourself.

In this detailed guide, we’ll cover the most frequently reported Tracker 800sx problems owners experience and provide actionable tips to troubleshoot issues in the fuel, electrical, cooling, and steering systems.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Recognize symptoms of common problems
  • Narrow down root causes
  • Test components like pumps and alternators
  • Complete repairs and part replacements yourself where feasible

Let’s get started diagnosing those pesky 800sx problems so you can get back to fun times on the water.

Introduction to Troubleshooting Tracker 800sx Issues

The Tracker 800sx is one of the most popular multi-species fishing boats on the market today. Powered by an 85 HP Mercury outboard motor, this 19′ aluminum Deep-V hull is durable, stable, and capable of tackling everything from rivers to large lakes.

With a deck layout focused on fishing, the 800sx includes amenities like 6 storage compartments, a 34-gallon aerated livewell, and a Bow Lock trolling motor.

But like all machines eventually do, the 800sx can develop issues over time that affect performance. Some common problems reported by owners include:

  • Fuel system problems like hard starting or sputtering
  • Electrical issues like dim lights or dead batteries
  • Overheating while underway
  • Steering and handling difficulties

Most boat problems can be broken down by the main systems involved, like the engine, electrical circuits, cooling, steering, and more. Within each system, there are components that can fail and cause symptoms.

With some basic troubleshooting techniques, you can methodically track down the root of problems:

  • Replicating the issue – Try to experience the problem yourself under the same conditions reported if possible. Pay close attention to any associated symptoms or odd behaviors.
  • Inspecting visually – Look for obvious issues like leaks, damage, wear, or corrosion. Review warning lights.
  • Testing components – Use tools like multimeters to test parts of the system that could be faulty like pumps, alternators, and thermostats.
  • Ruling out causes – Systematically test or replace parts that could be contributing to the problem.
  • Seeking help for complex issues – Some problems require dealer diagnostic computers and mechanics. Know your limits!

On your Tracker 800sx, the most reported problems involve the fuel, electrical, cooling, and steering systems. We’ll break down the most common issues for each system and provide troubleshooting tips and repairs. Let’s get started!

Top Fuel System Problems on Tracker 800sx

Fuel issues are one of the top problems 800sx owners report. Without proper fuel supply, your outboard engine can struggle with hard starts, low power, sputtering, or even stall out completely.

Common fuel system problems on Trackers fall into two buckets – fuel delivery issues and fuel contamination. Let’s explore the symptoms, causes, and fixes for both.

Fuel Delivery Issues

The most reported fuel system problems on the 800sx involve faults in the delivery of fuel rather than the fuel itself. This includes issues like:

  • Hard starting or no start
  • Sputtering at high speeds
  • Loss of power

These symptoms typically point to a disruption in the fuel delivery components that get gas from the tank to the motor.

Potential causes for fuel delivery issues include:

  • Clogged fuel filters preventing flow
  • Failing fuel pump not providing consistent pressure
  • Pinched or cracked fuel lines
  • Sticking anti-siphon valve

Fixing fuel delivery problems involves methodically inspecting filters and lines, testing the pump, and replacing faulty parts:

  • Check fuel filters first and replace if visibly clogged
  • Inspect fuel lines along entire runs for damage and leaks
  • Verify anti-siphon valve is operating – clean or replace if sticking
  • Test fuel pump pressure and volume output
  • Replace fuel pump if weak or erratic pressure
  • Ruling out causes until issue is fixed

Let’s dive deeper into the key components and troubleshooting steps.

Checking Fuel Filters

Clogged fuel filters are a prime suspect for fuel starvation issues. There are two filters that should be inspected – a primary fuel/water separating filter and a secondary filter near the motor:

  • Disconnect hoses and remove primary filter under helm
  • Cut open filter canister to look for debris and water
  • Rinse out canister if needed and insert new filter
  • Repeat check on secondary filter near outboard
  • Look for black residue, mushy filter media, or metal shavings
  • Replace if any signs of clogging are found

Tip: Always carry spare fuel filters! They are a quick and cheap fix for weak fuel supply.

Fuel Line Inspection

The next area to troubleshoot is the fuel lines running from the tank to filters and motor:

  • Carefully inspect lines especially at the ends for cracks or pinching
  • Look for corrosion and rust on metal fittings
  • Check for soft or mushy sections that may be rotting
  • Remove quick disconnects and check for free flow by catching fuel in a container
  • Replace suspect sections or lines

Make sure to protect skin and eyes as fuel will leak out when disconnecting fittings.

Anti-Siphon Valve

All outboard motors have an anti-siphon valve to prevent fuel from siphoning out when parked. If sticky or clogged, these can also cause flow issues:

  • The valve is located near the outboard – trace the fuel line to find it
  • With the motor off, disconnect the lines at the valve
  • Check if fuel flows freely through the valve ports
  • If any sticking, remove and spray valve with carb cleaner
  • Blow out valve with compressed air to dislodge debris
  • Reinstall and retest – replace valve if issues persist

Cleaning or replacing a stuck anti-siphon valve is much cheaper than a bad fuel pump!

Testing the Fuel Pump

If filters and lines check out fine, suspect issues with the electric fuel pump. Test its output pressure and volume:

  • Install a fuel pressure gauge at the outboard connection
  • Operate the pump and check pressure reaches specs (35-40 psi)
  • Pressure should hold steady, not pulsate or drop
  • Next, disconnect the line and measure how much fuel volume is delivered over 15 seconds
  • Replace pump if pressure or volume is lower than manufacturer spec

Testing pumps and pressure is the best way to identify weak fuel feed issues and prevent throwing parts at the problem.

With fuel filters changed, lines inspected, and pump operation verified, most delivery-related fuel problems can be eliminated.

Fuel Contamination Issues

In addition to delivery issues, bad or contaminated fuel can also cause problems, especially:

  • Difficult starting and idling
  • Sputtering at all speeds
  • Black smoke exhaust
  • Fouled spark plugs

Fuel contamination is typically caused by:

  • Using ethanol gas over 30 days old that has separated or varnished
  • Accidental water ingress into the tank
  • Dirt or debris entering the fuel
  • Growth of algae or bacteria in untreated gas

To treat contamination problems:

  • Drain entire fuel system – tank, filters, lines
  • Remove and clean out fuel tank
  • Refill with fresh ethanol-free gas and additive
  • Install new fuel filters
  • Add fuel stabilizer to prevent future issues

The fix for bad gas involves thoroughly flushing the entire system. Fuel filters alone won’t solve contaminated gas problems.

By methodically checking for both fuel delivery faults and contamination issues, you can zero in on the root cause and remedy most reported fuel system problems on the Tracker 800sx.

Electrical System Problems in 800sx

Electrical issues account for another common problem reported by Tracker 800sx owners.

Symptoms related to electrical system problems include:

  • Dim or flickering lights
  • Accessory power loss
  • Battery not charging
  • Corrosion on terminals

These types of issues typically stem from faults in battery connections, the alternator charging, wiring faults, or blown fuses.

Let’s explore troubleshooting tips for each of these electrical issues:

Battery Connection Problems

Loose battery terminals or corroded connections are common causes of intermittent electrical problems like:

  • Lights cutting out
  • Weak cranking when starting
  • Accessories turning off

To troubleshoot battery connections:

  • Remove and clean battery terminals with a wire brush
  • Inspect terminals for white or blue corrosion
  • Reconnect and coat terminals with dielectric grease
  • Use a wrench to confirm terminals are tight to battery posts

Loose or dirty connections cause excessive resistance which can mimic other electrical issues.

Alternator Not Charging

If the battery tests fine, suspect problems with the alternator if:

  • Battery needs frequent jumps despite new battery
  • Voltage gauge shows discharge while running
  • Dim lights at idle but brighten at higher RPMs

To troubleshoot the alternator:

  • Turn on all accessories to load the charging system
  • Use a multimeter to check voltage at the battery terminals
  • Should measure 13.5-14.5 volts if alternator is charging
  • If low voltage, test alternator directly by disconnecting wire
  • Check for ~12V output from alternator with engine running
  • Replace alternator if output voltage is low or zero

Testing voltage with a multimeter is the best way to confirm if the alternator is delivering power to charge the batteries while underway.

Damaged Wiring Harness

Over years of vibration and exposure, the wiring harness can rub and short out causing electrical gremlins like:

  • Sudden accessory failure
  • Circuits randomly turning on and off

Check wiring for:

  • Insulation rubbing off wires touching metal boat parts
  • Corrosion and rust buildup on connectors
  • Pins pushed out of connectors
  • Melted or brittle wires

Damaged sections of the harness will need to be repaired and sealed with heat shrink tubing or replaced entirely.

Blown Fuses

Burned out fuses are simple to overlook but can knock out lights and electronics.

  • Locate the fuse panel and pull out each one to inspect
  • Look for blackening or a broken fuse wire
  • Test fuses with a multimeter or fuse tester
  • Replace any blown fuses with the same amperage rating

Always carry spare fuses! Burned out fuses are a quick fix for sudden electrical failures.

Tracking down loose connections, alternator issues, wiring faults, and blown fuses will help isolate most electrical problems in the 800sx.

Engine Overheating While Underway

Engine overheating is another commonly reported problem with the Tracker 800sx that can occur underway or at idle.

Signs of an overheating motor include:

  • High engine temperature warning on gauge cluster
  • Smell of hot steam from the engine bay
  • Sudden loss of power as computer limits RPMs

Most overheating issues stem from coolant system problems like:

  • Insufficient coolant – leaks or overflow tank low
  • Broken water pump impeller fins
  • Stuck closed thermostat
  • Damaged head gaskets

To troubleshoot overheating:

  • Look for leaks first – inspect hoses, gaskets, pump seal
  • Squeeze hoses to check for soft, spongy sections
  • Check coolant level when cold – refill if low
  • Remove thermostat – check if stuck closed
  • Test water pump impeller function
  • Pressure test cooling system
  • Replace head gasket if combustion gas detected in coolant

Finding and fixing leaks, testing the thermostat and water pump impeller, and replacing parts can resolve overheating mysteries.

Let’s dive into these troubleshooting steps and repairs:

Inspecting the Cooling System for Leaks

The first thing to check with any overheating problem is the coolant level and signs of leaks:

  • Look at the overflow reservoir when cold – should be at full line
  • Top off if low using manufacturer approved coolant
  • Inspect hose connections for weeping and dampness
  • Look down weep holes along the engine block for stains
  • Check water pump and thermostat housings for leaks
  • Feel along hoses for soft bulging sections that could burst

Lost coolant through leaks can lead to overheating episodes. Also change coolant periodically per maintenance schedule.

Testing the Thermostat

The thermostat controls coolant flow and when stuck shut, causes overheating:

  • Locate the thermostat housing near the upper engine hoses
  • Remove thermostat and place in a pot of water on a stove
  • Heat water – thermostat should fully open above 192 F
  • Replace thermostat if it stays closed or only partially opens

A simple stove top test can verify if the thermostat is faulty before replacing.

Checking the Water Pump Impeller

The water pump uses a rubber impeller to circulate engine coolant. Over time, fins can break off causing flow issues:

  • Remove the pump cover and take out the impeller
  • Look for broken or missing fins
  • Check fins for flexibility – should bend not crack
  • Replace impeller if any signs of damage or deterioration

Annual impeller replacement is recommended for outboard motors.

Pressure Testing the Cooling System

For persistent overheating with no obvious external leaks, you may need to pressure test the cooling system to check for internal head gasket failures or cracked engine blocks.

  • Get a cooling system pressure tester kit
  • Follow kit instructions to pressurize the system
  • Look for drops in pressure overnight
  • Bubbles in coolant tank indicate exhaust gas & combustion leaks

Pressure testing can confirm major internal damage like blown head gaskets requiring engine repair.

With some diligent troubleshooting and repairs, you can keep your 800sx engine running cool and prevent costly damage from overheating.

Steering System Problems

Lastly, the 800sx’s steering system is subject to wear and tear over the years that can lead to play or stiffness in the steering wheel.

Common symptoms of steering issues include:

  • Increased steering effort and resistance
  • Loose feeling steering with play
  • Strange noises when turning the wheel

These types of problems are typically caused by:

  • Low power steering fluid
  • Damaged steering cable
  • Excessive wear of steering gear

Troubleshooting steering problems involves:

  • Checking power steering fluid level
  • Inspecting the condition of steering cables
  • Investigating any odd steering noises
  • Replacing excessively worn parts

Let’s look at how to pinpoint and fix loose, stiff, or noisy steering issues:

Checking Power Steering Fluid

Insufficient fluid is an easy thing to check with steering problems:

  • Locate power steering reservoir and dipstick
  • Wipe and reinsert dipstick to check level
  • Should be between min and max marks
  • Top off with manufacturer approved fluid if low
  • Look for signs of leaks around hoses and pump seals

Maintaining proper power steering fluid prevents wear and tear to the steering pump.

Inspecting Steering Cables

The cables that connect the steering wheel to the motor can become damaged over time:

  • Try turning wheel with motor off to isolate cable resistance
  • Look along cable runs for kinking, fraying, peeling
  • Check ends for corrosion and broken strands
  • Cables should move freely when rolled between fingers
  • Replace cables if any deterioration or excessive tight spots are found

Periodically greasing cables can help reduce wear from friction.

Investigating Odd Noises

Strange squeaking, grinding or whining noises when turning point to issues like:

  • Low power steering fluid causing pump cavitation
  • Dry bearing or joints lacking grease
  • Excessive worn steering gear pinion

Isolate the source of noises through careful listening. Pump noises indicate low fluid. Grinding suggests worn gears or joints needing replacement.

Replacing Worn Parts

If clunking, looseness, or stiff spots develop in the steering, the internal steering components may need replacement:

  • Examine gear linkage ends for excessive play or wear
  • Check for cracked steering mounts allowing movement
  • Look into replacing worn steering gear that has too much lash

Significant looseness or deterioration compromises steering safety.

Staying on top of steering maintenance and repairs ensures confident boat control and handling while under way.


In summary, fuel, electrical, cooling, and steering issues represent the most commonly reported problems with the Tracker 800sx.

Armed with troubleshooting tips to isolate specific component failures, you can likely diagnosis and repair many problems yourself without a mechanic.

Key steps include:

  • Replicating issues to understand symptoms
  • Methodically testing parts like pumps and alternators
  • Checking for leaks, blockages, or damage
  • Replacing worn components
  • Seeking help for complex issues

Performing routine system inspections and maintenance is also important to get ahead of problems before they strand you.

Follow along with the detailed troubleshooting guidance in this article and get those frustrating 800sx problems fixed so you can get back on the water! Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips for diagnosing and repairing common Tracker boat issues.

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