Important Facts To Know About Winterizing Your Boat
You’ve had lots of boating fun for the season. Maybe you have big fish tales to tell or maybe you have memories of wonderful water skiing adventures. In any case, if you want next year’s boating season to start out right, now is the time to prepare your boat for winter. Chances are that you have had a bad experience at some time in your boating career with starting your boat motor for the first time in the spring. If you did not winterize your boat before putting it away for the season, I can practically guarantee that you had a bad experience.
The easiest way to winterize your boat is to simply take it to a boat dealer and he can do it for you for around $100. However, if you want to save money and do it yourself, here is a little checklist of what your boat will need to make it through the winter in good shape.
- Add a fuel stabilizer (like Sta-Bil or OMC 2+4) to the fuel tank according to directions on the bottle.
- Fill (that’s right fill) your gas tank with NON-alcohol fuel. This prevents condensation, oxidization and spoilage of the fuel.
- Start the motor (either in the lake or with flushing muffs installed and connected to your garden hose to keep the engine cool).
- Allow the motor to run for 5-10 minutes to make sure that the treated fuel gets to all parts of the engine.
- Spray fogging oil into the carburetor(s) while the engine is running. You’ll see lots of smoke – that’s good.
- Shut the engine down. (DO NOT run it out of gas. If you have an oil-injection engine, running it out of gas will inject pure oil into the carb which will turn into a gooey mess by spring.)
- After the engine has cooled down, remove the spark plugs and spray fogging oil directly into the cylinders.
- With the kill switch in the “Off” position, turn the engine over a time or two to coat the cylinder walls with fogging oil.
- Inspect the spark plugs and replace with new ones, if necessary.
- Tilt the engine down fully and remove the lower unit oil plugs and drain the gear lube into a pan.
- Check the used lube color for water. If it looks milky, you have a leaking seal. Also, check for metal filings. Either condition will require the attention of your dealer.
- Refill the gear case with lube by inserting the tube in the lower hole and filling it until fluid comes out of the top hole. Replace both fill/vent plugs.
- Check the prop for nicks. A little damage here can cause a big decrease in performance. Small nicks can be repaired, large ones can damage other engine parts and the drive system from vibration. Replace a badly damaged prop.
- Grease all fittings you can find (usually on the motor tilt mechanism, swivel bracket, and steering tube.) Use quality waterproof grease.
- Spray all electrical connections and the fuse panel with a moisture-displacing silicone lubricant.
- Store your motor in an upright position – not tilted.
- Remove the battery, check the fluid level and trickle charge on a board.
- Clean the battery terminals with a soda paste, spray the terminals with a sealant, and store the battery in a warm place.
- Remove the drain plug and drain any water from the bilge and live well. Wire the drain plug to the ignition switch to avoid embarrassment at the boat ramp next spring.
- Remove all life jackets from the boat, wash, dry and store in a dry place.
- Vacuum out the boat and leave a mouse cake or two. Better to find a dead mouse next spring that a live one!
- Cover the boat but allow for air circulation to avoid moisture problems.
- Pack the trailer wheel bearings with grease or, better yet, install Bearing Buddies to keep moisture out of the bearings and maintain a grease filled environment.
- Check trailer bulbs and spray silicone on all sockets and wiring connectors.
- Put the trailer on blocks and remove the tires to prolong rubber life and thwart would-be tire thieves.
- Fuel stabilizer
- Fogging oil
- Gear lube
- Waterproof grease
- Moisture-displacing silicone lubricant spray
- Battery terminal spray
- Mouse bait