icon-phone 619.235.0961    icon-email Email

When Downtime Is Not An Option.



Troubleshooting your Westerbeke Diesel Generator

Troubleshooting your Westerbeke Diesel Generator

The Westerbeke Company has been in the business of building diesel generators for over 75 years. This makes Westerbeke diesel generators a solid choice for boat manufacturers and owners. However, they are not immune to various malfunctions, just like any other type of machinery.

In cases when you need Westerbeke repair in San Diego, it is good to know a reliable repair shop. PCE has been repairing and maintaining diesel generators and other boat equipment for 40 years. Our qualified and experienced staff can identify and solve a variety of diesel problems.

Here are some of the more common faults with Westerbeke diesel generators.

Overly thirsty generator

If your fuel consumption is significantly higher than what you would normally expect, the most likely problem is a faulty injection pump; or in a better scenario, faulty fuel injectors. It is also possible that you are overloading the engine, so consult your user’s manual before jumping to conclusions. It is also possible that there is a lack of airflow. In this last case, black smoke may also present as a symptom.

White smoke

If the smoke is white, that’s a whole different story. The typical culprit here is coolant leaking into the exhaust manifold. In some cases, this white smoke can be caused by faulty injection timing, or even by a faulty injector. Starting your engine cold, and then driving it hard can also induce white smoke, but that is not a malfunction by itself. Stop doing that and the problem should stop.


Make sure you can tell apart steam from white smoke, because the causes of these faults are different. If steam is what you see, it is your cooling system that is at fault. These generators use complex salt water cooling systems, and steam shows that there is insufficient water in your system, or that there is no flow of water in the system.

Sudden cut out when starting

This happens with both gas and diesel generators. The simplest solution is to keep the preheat switch pressed for a few seconds, waiting for the oil to build up pressure. It should run normally after that. If the problem persists, it is due to the failsafe mechanism of all Westerbeke generators. They shut down due to three possible faults. Either there is low oil pressure, or high water temperature in the system, or the exhaust temperature is too high. In any case, don’t force the generator and contact a mechanic to diagnose and repair it.

Overheating while idling

If the temperature builds up over time, even while idling, the most likely cause is the sea water cooling system obstruction. This system cools the generator using the surrounding sea water. If the obstruction is decreasing the water flow, it diminishes the effectiveness of the system. The best place to diagnose this problem is the wet exhaust elbow. Each generator has its own specific output flow rate, measured in gallons per second. It may not be possible to measure visually if the water flow is sufficient. You need to check the key points of the system: sea water inlet valve, the water pump, water injection fitting, and the heat exchanger. It is possible that none of these are the problem. It could just be that your hull or propeller are dirty and causing the overload of the engine.

The safety of marine equipment should never be taken lightly, since you may end up far from any potential help when the disaster strikes. That’s why preventive maintenance and proper care are essential. What you need is a reliable partner and a mechanic you can trust. PCE is the preferred partner of the US Navy, which speaks volumes. Contact PCE now for all you diesel repair needs, as well as a variety of other mechanical services.
  1. Make Contact
Please enter a name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Please enter a valid phone number.
Invalid Input
Invalid Input
I Would Like More Information About:

Invalid Input
Send me your newsletter:

Invalid Input

Our Guarantee

At PCE, we pledge to provide you with the highest level of integrity and expertise; to recommend only what’s good for you and your situation; to use all resources possible to minimize downtime; to give the best value for your dollar; and to stand by our work and our word.

Contact Us

Corporate Headquarters
1620 Rigel Street
San Diego, CA 92113
Phone: (619) 235-0961
Fax: (619) 233-5096 
Diesel & Motor Division
3376 Main Street
San Diego, CA 92113
Phone: (619) 235-0961
Fax: (619) 687-0038 
99-1221 Halawa Valley Street
Aiea, HI 96701-3281
Phone: (808) 486-6600
Fax: (808) 845-1652 
920 West Marine View Drive
Everett, WA 98201-1300
Phone: (425) 257-9065
Fax: (425) 259-6851