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TOPIC: "SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine

"SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine 21 Sep 2017 13:43 #1

  • MonteVista
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I thought I had solved all my problems from a previous issue, but apparently not! See the previous issue at:

www.baylinerownersclub.org/index.php/for...i-need-advice-please

Because the new subject matter appears different, I am submitting this as a new issue. Any advice?

This morning as I went to start the engine for a test run it displayed CHECK ENGINE and showed SHIFT ACT alarm. Apparently there is something wrong with my shift actuator. As I and my mechanic were investigating the situation I noticed that the actuator was a bit damp. It turns out that water is coming on the inside of the shift wire and dropping into the bilge. We believe a seal is broken somewhere and I am going on dry land, again, tomorrow to find out.

Still, there is more strange behavior that the shift wire issue does not explain. Here are the symptoms:

1 - At one time the Shift Actuator moved all by itself while engine was running, throttle stick in neutral. I was watching the engine compartment when I saw the shift actuator engage and push the shift wire and, after about 15 seconds, all by itself pull the wire back!

2 - As my mechanic and I were doing a test run, I manipulated the throttle stick to bring it forward, then reverse, then forward again, several times. Everything seemed to work but one time it did not engage in forward. We waited for about 15 seconds and suddenly it engaged.

3 - I don't know what exactly SHIFT ACT fault means

4 - Earlier on, as I was testing the boat on my own, everything seemed OK until it gave a CHECK ENGINE and showed HYDRAULIC FAULT! I don't believe I have any hydraulic sensors on the boat. Steering, transmission, engine oil are full, no leaks.

5 - We disengaged the shift wire from the actuator and manipulated the wire by hand, transmission shifted without any issues. Also, with the wire disengaged from the actuator I moved the throttle forward to reverse many times. Each time the actuator was engaged and no faults showed.

We are taking the drive out to replace the shift wire and any gaskets. If the problem goes away, fine. Otherwise I think our next move is to replace the actuator.

Any advice?

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"SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine 21 Sep 2017 15:30 #2

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Uh oh, more lower shift cable issues. Not having any experience with a shift actuator personally, most are cable activated. If there was water dripping from the lower shift cable at the actuators end this would indicate either a bad o ring between the bell housing and the upper unit where the shift cable passes through or the seal at the cables end connection to the bell housing is leaking. All this said, it sounds like water has caused a short within the shift actuator.

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"SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine 21 Sep 2017 15:44 #3

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I think the O-ring failure is right on! We shall find out tomorrow. I am a little hesitant about the water causing a short in the actuator because the wire is attached to a piston and whereas the piston might get wet the electrical component of the actuator is in a housing above the piston and should not be affected. I think there are possibly 3 explanations:
(a) water/salt inside the wire may have caused binding of the wire that caused the actuator to mis-function, or
(b) there is a SW (DTS) or similar issue regarding some kind of alignment that is necessary for the actuator/wire, or
(c) the actuator issue is a totally unrelated, coincidental issue that just decided to show up at this point in time

With my recent luck, the answer is all of the above!

Be safe,

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"SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine 21 Sep 2017 15:59 #4

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Curious does the shift actuator move a shift cable that goes to the drive? i.e. same lower shift cable as on a fully manual system. Therefore its just wires between the helm control and the actuator. Just trying to understand the setup and where water is coming from.

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"SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine 21 Sep 2017 16:13 #5

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your engine must be equipped with Smartcraft & DTS and this is all part of DTS, PCM 09 calibrations.
it's usually the little neutral detent ball sensor ...

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"SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine 21 Sep 2017 23:36 #6

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Nauti Mike wrote: Curious does the shift actuator move a shift cable that goes to the drive? i.e. same lower shift cable as on a fully manual system. Therefore its just wires between the helm control and the actuator. Just trying to understand the setup and where water is coming from.


Yes, that is exactly how it is.

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"SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine 21 Sep 2017 23:37 #7

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Ruffryder wrote: your engine must be equipped with Smartcraft & DTS and this is all part of DTS, PCM 09 calibrations.
it's usually the little neutral detent ball sensor ...


Exactly where is the detent sensor? Is it on the actuator assembly?

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"SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine 22 Sep 2017 20:24 #8

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So, Monte Vista came out of the water, again, and we removed the drive. Shift cable was removed, inspected, cleaned and re-connected. The o-ring was kaput! My mechanic was aghast! He says he has replace this cable many, many times and has never had this much trouble with it. Any way, we even opened up the transmission to inspect the gears and oil. Everything checked out, including gear alignments. Everything was put back together and we put the boat back in the water. First test drive showed everything working. However, we can't explain the Check Engine, SHIFT ACT alarm at all. In the first place, there is no sensor that connects to the engine electronics to put out such a fault. Even the "ball sensor" does not feed data into the engine electronics. So, where did the check engine/shift act alarm come from?

While talking to other boat owners we found out that another boat with the same Mercruiser QSD 4.2L DTS engine had developed intermittent check engine alarms indicating some kind of DTS error that no one at Mercury could determine the cause of. When they looked at the fault status using the diagnostic computer they did not find an alarm! Then, a technician remembered that there was a Mercruiser bulletin about 2012 period engines that stated something was wrong with their DTS harness and this item would be replaced for free under warranty. I do not know if this is the same as my fault status as Vessel View Mobile shows check-engine fault captured and gives no other info about it.

Does any one know about such a service bulletin or where I can find its number and/or other info?

I shall continue to do test runs with my boat which is running just fine right now. However, I do not trust the boat, yet, until I can explain and fix/eliminate all that may be wrong with it. I am afraid I may still have a hidden issue somewhere that is just waiting to show its ugly head at the least expected moment.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Be safe

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"SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine 22 Sep 2017 21:37 #9

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yes it is on the DTS shift actuator assembly,
yes it does feed/connects to the ECM,
it's the 2 wire harness switch... part # 87-8M0052939
The following user(s) said Thank You: MonteVista

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"SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine 23 Sep 2017 06:30 #10

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Ruffyryder

This looks like the ball detent sensor. I am told this does not feed into the engine electronics box. The command center where the check engine message is produced does not receive a signal from here. They say this switch detects the neutral position. As it is explained to me, it functions to detect the neutral position as the lever is moved from forward to reverse and cuts the engine rpm during this time in order to ease shifting into gear. This switch is not linked to where the Check Engine message is generated.

I may be wrong but this is how it is explained to me. So, we are still baffled with why I received a CHECK ENGINE message that shows SHIFT ACT alarm.

Thanks,

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"SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine 23 Sep 2017 16:53 #11

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Yes that is correct... it functions to detect the neutral position & that is the SHIFT INTERRUPT SWITCH as they explained.
here is how all it works...
A standard junction box works as a breakout point for additional SmartCraft components
to connect to the multi‑ignition input from the smart junction box. The standard junction box
serves as the connection point for the tab smart multiplex module, inertial measurement
unit, global position sensor, Precision Pilot, and DTS trackpad to a smart junction box.
The smart junction box and the standard junction box, coordinate signals from various
inputs to the respective electronic controls. The smart junction box has a total of ten
designated inputs and outputs with several light emitting diodes (LED). Each connection
is clearly marked on the smart junction box.
The LED's can be used to diagnose problems associated with the SmartCraft network. This
feature is a visual indication that a component is nonoperational due to a lack of power,
possibly resulting from a blown fuse or circuit breaker.
What happens when you activate the throttle mode only?
when you press the "THROTTLE ONLY" button and advance the control handle ahead to
the forward detent. The horn will sound once and the neutral light will start flashing.
& yes there was a service bulletin, Official Recall Notification U.S. Federal Boat Safety Act ‑ DTS
Command Module Lever Fault, but
this bulletin covers those 2007/2008 period engines.
All DTS boats with a hull identification number (HIN) of K7 to E8 in the ninth and tenth
position, in conjunction with 07 or 08 in the eleventh and twelfth position, need the
command module updated to version 76.

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"SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine 24 Sep 2017 13:00 #12

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Thanks for the info.

Here is what I found about my issue. The attached link is a recall bulletin from New Zealand. I am sure versions must exist elsewhere also but this is what I found. It describes an issue that matches my issue almost perfectly.

www.recalls.govt.nz/recall/mercury-diese...e-dts-marine-engines

In my case, I turned the ignition ON and the engine did not start but I found a CHECK ENGINE message with an accompanying SHIFT ACT alarm. With the ignition ON but the engine not started, I looked inside the engine compartment and as I was looking, I saw the shift actuator move forward, and about 15 seconds later, it pulled back, all on its own and with the throttle/shift lever in the neutral position. The attached recall notice describes this situation while starting the engine and states that:

"... it is caused by either the trim, pilot, steering or paddle sensor may cause a reduction in the sensor voltage and cause a misinterpretation of the DTS shift actuator's position.The issue may result in the shift actuator shifting into forward gear during the engine start process, even though the electronic remote control handle is in the neutral position, the drive unit will remain in the forward gear until the failed sensor is disconnected causing a potential accident."

I shall contact the local Mercury service in Turkey and ask them to read the fault status on my engine and also perform the necessary repair/replace fix on my machine. I don't find the local team especially capable so we shall se how far this will take me.

Stay tuned!

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"SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine 26 Sep 2017 07:31 #13

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This may be a slow process but we have started it! Yesterday the local Mercury service technician came to the boat to capture diagnostic data from the engine using his laptop. They will send the data to their headquarters and from there it will be sent to the USA for approval. If/when approval is received a new DTS harness will be sent (either from the USA or from Belgium) and they will install it. My problem is I shall leave Turkey to come back to the USA on October 30th. I don't know if there will be enough time to do all of this before I leave Turkey. Fingers crossed!

According to the technician here the issue is with the DTS harness that is located at the back of the engine. It has several branches/connectors for various sensors (I believe for 5 sensors) and not all of them are in use. They have eliminated the unused sensors and built a slimmer DTS harness without them. If I combine this info with the info on the bulletin, somehow the unused sensors create voltage drop and/or other interference that causes the neutral position of the lever to be interpreted wrongly. The technician states he has seen boats with this error run without a problem for a very long time. He says the system will reset itself after a shutdown. I am going out for some extensive testing this morning. I hope I don't end up on the pier or on another boat because of being stuck in forward gear!

Be safe.

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"SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine 26 Sep 2017 11:33 #14

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So the unused branches in the harness are floating and not terminated? Depending on the type of interface at the ECM it may interpret these as failed sensors. The software may ignore these but only Mercruiser would know the details.

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"SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine 27 Sep 2017 10:45 #15

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Here is the actual Mercury bulletin (2016-66) on this issue.


www.mercury-lakor.com/system/docs/11506-...ement.pdf?1476684229

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"SHIFT ACT" alarm on Mercuruiser QSD4.2L (DTS) engine 10 Oct 2017 09:35 #16

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Yesterday, a new/modified DTS Harness was installed on my boat to fix the Shift Act problem that caused the shift actuator to put the transmission into gear, all by itself, even as the throttle lever was in the neutral position. The new harness part number is 8M0118368. It differs from the original harness whereby they have removed the unused (on my boat) connector for "accessory drive relay". I believe that connector is used on boats that have the Axius joystick drive installed. Apparently the unused connector creates voltage drop/interference that results in the shift actuator position being mis interpreted by the control electronics. I could only do in-pace testing that seemed all fine. Weather permitting, in two daysI shall go out for extensive sea trials to make sure the problem has been fixed.

Before the fix, my latest attempt to leave from my slot was "a bit nerve racking!". I untied my lines, put the engine in gear and immediately brought it back to neutral so that the boat started to move out of the slip slowly. I was waiting to move away sufficiently so my stern clears the boat/pier on either side before I start my turn. Just then, all by itself, the transmission went into gear and I started moving towards the boats tied on the other side of the lane, about 10 yards away from me. When this failure occurs, the transmission can not be put back into neutral because electronics keeps on thinking the lever is already in the neutral position. It was too late for me to immediately make a starboard turn as my momentum was certain to carry me onto the boats parked on the other side. I immediately shut down the engine and rushed to the bow to hold or slow the boat so it doesn't hit the other boats head on. I was able to slow myself down and point my bow in between the bows of two boats that laid directly ahead as I gently bumped into them.

I am hoping my next attempt to leave the dock will be less exciting!

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