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Winterization Tips

Now that boating season is coming to a close, it is time to winterize your boat and get it ready for next season! The first step is making sure that you have a quality boat cover that fits your boat well, will protect your boat throughout the winter, and will cut down on the cleaning chores next spring.

In addition to getting a great fitting cover from, here are some other tips to help you winterize your marine engine and equipment:

  • Add the appropriate amount of fuel stabilizer. Run the engine long enough to get treated gas into the fuel line and engine.
  • Flush the cooling system. (Flushing kits are available from boat dealers.) Also remove engine drain plugs and drain all the water from inboard and inboard engines.
  • Fog the engine with oil to prevent rust. Make sure to spray some of the oil into the cylinders through the sparkplug holes once the engine has cooled down. Check the spark plugs and replace them as necessary.
  • Replace the oil and oil filter on inboard and inboard engines. Dispose of the used oil at an authorized recycling center.
  • Change the lower unit gearcase lubricant on outboards and inboard/outdrive engines. Even a little water trapped in the gearcase can cause damage, especially if allowed to freeze.
  • Store outboards in an upright position.
  • Spray a moisture displacing lubricant such as a silicone product onto electrical terminals and the fuse panel. Read the label to make sure the spray is safe for use on electrical components.
  • Inspect steering systems, including tiller steering friction fittings on outboards. Tighten them if they're loose.
  • Clean the backfire flame arrester on inboard engines with carburetor cleaner.
  • Clean boats inside and out and cover when stored, even indoors. Allow for air circulation under the cover to prevent mildew.
  • Drain water from the bilges and leave the transom drain plug out. It's a good idea to place a reminder note in a conspicuous place to avoid embarrassment at the boat ramp next spring.
  • Hang life jackets up where they can air out.
  • Examine trailer tires and grease the wheel bearings, replacing them as necessary. Check bulbs and electrical contacts on the plugs as well as sockets where the bulbs screw in.
  • Spray contacts with a moisture displacing lubricant and wrap electrical tape around the plugs to keep them dry.
  • Put the trailer on blocks and remove the tires to prolong rubber life and hinder boat thieves.
  • Check the owners manual for tips that are particular to your own brand of boat, engine and trailer.