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Jan 23rd, 2013
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Motor issues... so frustrating... #12678789
03/19/18 01:54 AM
03/19/18 01:54 AM
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Waco, TX
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texasAUtiger Offline OP
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I have a 40 hp Honda outboard. Serviced top to bottom 5 months ago, everything is fine. Haven’t had any issues.

Ran it today, no problems. Pull up to my spot fish for 20 mins on trolling motor, then go to move, big motor fires right up, but it won’t go in gear (forward or reverse). I limp back on trolling motor, get back home, put muffs on it to see what’s happening. I was hoping it was just a shear pin or something. But I didn’t hit anything.

Anyway, I take the prop off down to where I can see the main shaft. I can spin it freely clockwise and counterclockwise. I crank it up, put it in forward at 25% and 50% throttle,shaft does not spin. Same with reverse. When I crank it to 75% throttle in both forward or reverse, the shaft will spin some.

Ideas on what this could be? Translation: how bad $$ this can be?

The aggravating thing is the non-Honda places wouldn’t touch it when I needed service before, and the two closest Honda dealers are 35 and 65 mi away. The closer one kept my boat for 3 weeks and charged me thru the nose for a basic service last time. If anyone has a service recommendation, I’d rather drive it 3 hrs somewhere and get it done reasonably quickly and fairly priced than gamble like last time. Sorry but this is so depressing to have happen right at prime fishing time.

Last edited by texasAUtiger; 03/19/18 02:20 AM.
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Re: Motor issues... so frustrating... [Re: texasAUtiger] #12678806
03/19/18 02:02 AM
03/19/18 02:02 AM
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Sanger TX
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BCBassCat Offline
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Did you check to see if the actuator for the forward reverse sensor had come apart? it's a real easy fix. happened to my Xr6 Merc several times when I first bought it.

Re: Motor issues... so frustrating... [Re: BCBassCat] #12678821
03/19/18 02:11 AM
03/19/18 02:11 AM
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Waco, TX
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texasAUtiger Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: BCBassCat
Did you check to see if the actuator for the forward reverse sensor had come apart? it's a real easy fix. happened to my Xr6 Merc several times when I first bought it.


When the problem occurred on the water the first thing I noticed was the lack of the “clunk” when I went to put it in gear.

Back home, I pulled the cowling and worked the hand lever from neutral to forward to neutral to reverse to see if the linkage was moving. It was moving in both directions. Now whether it was moving like it’s supposed to, I don’t know. It certainly feels like the motor remains in neutral all the time.

Re: Motor issues... so frustrating... [Re: texasAUtiger] #12678826
03/19/18 02:13 AM
03/19/18 02:13 AM
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nederland, TX
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the skipper Online content
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Do you hear it shifting into gear? Sounds like it's not shifting at all like the linkage isn't on or maybe something is up with the cable

Re: Motor issues... so frustrating... [Re: the skipper] #12678840
03/19/18 02:18 AM
03/19/18 02:18 AM
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Waco, TX
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texasAUtiger Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: the skipper
Do you hear it shifting into gear? Sounds like it's not shifting at all like the linkage isn't on or maybe something is up with the cable


I do not hear (or feel) ANY of the usual “clunk” that it has always had when it went into gear. The sound and feel was always very noticeable. Now it’s nothing.

Last edited by texasAUtiger; 03/19/18 02:19 AM.
Re: Motor issues... so frustrating... [Re: texasAUtiger] #12679535
03/19/18 03:30 PM
03/19/18 03:30 PM
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Waco, TX
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texasAUtiger Offline OP
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Based on my internet research last night and this morning, it sounds like the cable/linkage is not shifting the drive shaft out of neutral. Perhaps it simply needs adjusting.

I won't be able to tinker with it til I get home, but based on the symptoms and the way the problem occurred, it does not *seem* like anything catastrophic. I am hoping I could figure it out without taking it to the shop, so any input is appreciated.

Re: Motor issues... so frustrating... [Re: texasAUtiger] #12679552
03/19/18 03:36 PM
03/19/18 03:36 PM
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Haworth, Ok
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GarySHO Offline
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Sounds like linkage where it connects to the motor issues. I don't know about Honda but there should be a hold down bracket that the cables go in to keep them in the correct spot. Maybe they popped out or a hold down screw vibrated out.




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Re: Motor issues... so frustrating... [Re: texasAUtiger] #12679578
03/19/18 03:50 PM
03/19/18 03:50 PM
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North DFW
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Damnyankee Online content
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I just dealt with this same issue this morning on my Yamaha 150. The rod end on my shifter cable is plastic, and I suspect it may have slipped on the threads after years of use. Just pull the engine cowl off, shift to reverse and you’ll see the direction it needs to go. Either lengthen or shorten depending on which direction is needed to engage reverse. Make sure you didn’t adjust too far by ensuring you can still engage forward. Motor doesn’t need to be running, your just spinning the prop by hand to ensure it’s engaged in either forward or reverse. Your shifter cable may not be set up the same as mine, but same principles apply. A shop Manual is invaluable. Hope this helps.

Re: Motor issues... so frustrating... [Re: texasAUtiger] #12679584
03/19/18 03:54 PM
03/19/18 03:54 PM
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Damnyankee Online content
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I just realized you’re having problems in both forward and reverse, but first place to check is still the shifter linkage as others have stated.

Re: Motor issues... so frustrating... [Re: Damnyankee] #12679595
03/19/18 03:59 PM
03/19/18 03:59 PM
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Waco, TX
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texasAUtiger Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Damnyankee
I just dealt with this same issue this morning on my Yamaha 150. The rod end on my shifter cable is plastic, and I suspect it may have slipped on the threads after years of use. Just pull the engine cowl off, shift to reverse and you’ll see the direction it needs to go. Either lengthen or shorten depending on which direction is needed to engage reverse. Make sure you didn’t adjust too far by ensuring you can still engage forward. Motor doesn’t need to be running, your just spinning the prop by hand to ensure it’s engaged in either forward or reverse. Your shifter cable may not be set up the same as mine, but same principles apply. A shop Manual is invaluable. Hope this helps.


When yours was malfunctioning, was it stuck in neutral? Could you spin the prop both ways? And did you lose the "clunking" sound that usually occurs when putting it into gear?

Last night it was getting dark and I hadn't done any internet research, but I could see the linkage moving as I moved the gear lever at the driver's seat, but it very easily might have not been connected to where it would actually engage the gear shaft. It would be nice if that's what it is.

I found a good YouTube video on how to address this at least on certain Yamahas:



My Honda is not set up like that, but this might help someone else.

Re: Motor issues... so frustrating... [Re: texasAUtiger] #12679607
03/19/18 04:06 PM
03/19/18 04:06 PM
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Damnyankee Online content
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My issue was that reverse wasn’t engaging. It would engage fwd just fine. I wasn’t getting and noises or clunk like it was trying to engage reverse. Which led me to the shifter linkage. In my case, the shifter cable rod end needed to be unscrewed a couple turns (lengthening the cable) to fully engage reverse.

Re: Motor issues... so frustrating... [Re: texasAUtiger] #12680041
03/19/18 08:04 PM
03/19/18 08:04 PM
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There are 2 cables that are hooked to your throttle box and motor. One cable controls the throttle and the other shifts it from neutral, fwd, and reverse. The throttle cable will be hooked to a lever on the motor and as you throttle in either direction it will pull that lever in the motor (the more you throttle down the more it pulls the lever). no matter if its forward or reverse the lever will go the same way.

The other cable is hooked to a switch in the motor that kicks it into forward, reverse, neutral, etc. When you take off the cowling and look inside the motor, ignore the cable that moves smoothly as you throttle down. look for the other cable and look to see if it is engaging a switch when you go from neutral to reverse to forward. if not, that is your problem.

you should be able to get in there and switch it between forward, neutral, reverse with your finger. if you can, flip it to one direction and see if the prop locks up when you try to spin it. You may have to detach cable from the switch to do this. Typically this just requires removing a screw and a little plastic piece. remember how they are held together/take pics before removing. this is an easy way to test if its the linkage or the motor itself. Also, this can be done when in a pinch and need to get motor back in gear to get off the water (or cable hasn't been delivered yet and you really need to go catch some fish), but as soon as you fire it up you will start moving forward so make sure you don't run into anything.

Shifter cable is a cheap and relatively easy fix. Watch a couple youtube videos and you can do it on your own. cable itself can be found cheap.

Last edited by 5PounderOnAFrog; 03/19/18 08:47 PM.
Re: Motor issues... so frustrating... [Re: texasAUtiger] #12680080
03/19/18 08:19 PM
03/19/18 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted By: texasAUtiger

When yours was malfunctioning, was it stuck in neutral? Could you spin the prop both ways? And did you lose the "clunking" sound that usually occurs when putting it into gear?


Doesn't matter if its stuck in neutral, forward, reverse, etc. if the boat was in neutral when the linkage broke/slipped it will be stuck in neutral. if it breaks/slips while the boat is in forward it will be stuck in forward.

If prop spins freely that means its in neutral. if its in gear, it will not spin.

That clunking sound is the switch/lever in the motor going between gears. For example, when the switch/lever is in neutral it will look like this (|), when you put the boat in forward that cable pulls the switch/lever so that it now looks like this (/), and when in reverse the cable pulls the switch to the opposite direction (\).
Think of a light switch. when you switch it on or off it pops into place. but instead of a little plastic light switch this is a large metal gear so when it pops into place you get that clunk.

Re: Motor issues... so frustrating... [Re: texasAUtiger] #12680435
03/20/18 12:14 AM
03/20/18 12:14 AM
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Waco, TX
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texasAUtiger Offline OP
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Thanks for the replies.

I came home to check things out while I had some daylight. The linkage is attached and working solidly through what looks to me like a full range of motion. I tried moving it with my fingers just to see if I could make it latch into gear, but no luck.

It seems the problem is between the linkage and the foot. Ugh.

Re: Motor issues... so frustrating... [Re: texasAUtiger] #12682005
03/21/18 01:32 AM
03/21/18 01:32 AM
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texasAUtiger Offline OP
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Well, I was able to fix it after getting some advice from a Honda outboards message board. Turns out that towards the foot of the motor there is a place where the upper gear shifter rod joins into the lower gear shifter rod. They are held together by two nuts. Well these fasteners had vibrated loose, detaching the upper rod from the lower rod. SO even though the lever was shifting into F-N-R, and the linkage was moving the upper rod into the position for F-N-R, it was not attached to the lower rod which actually shifts the gears in the lower unit to F-N-R!

Reattaching these in a very particular position joins them so that there is no grinding when going to F or R.

If you want more details (with pics), they are all here: http://www.marineengine.com/boat-forum/showthread.php?444788-BF40-won%92t-go-into-gear

Maybe this will help someone else down the line!

Last edited by texasAUtiger; 03/21/18 03:03 AM.
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