MotorboatThe boating season is winding down in many parts of the country and it’s time to start thinking about protecting your valuable recreational asset. Your insurance policy may not cover damage done by lack of maintenance or neglect, so taking the necessary steps to winterize your boat will protect the vessel and its motor against the winter elements. If there is water inside your engine when the temperature falls below freezing, the result can be a cracked block or housing and a repair bill that runs into the thousands.

Your first step in winterizing should be to make a checklist of all tasks that need to be completed. Check the owner’s manual of your boat and motor or manufacturer’s recommendations on winterization.

Here are some guidelines, courtesy of to prepare your boat for the cold winter months.

  1. Fill your boat’s fuel tank to just about capacity. Leave enough room for it to expand. Add gasoline stabilizer to prevent the fuel from degrading over the winter.
  2. Close the fuel valves to avoid potentially destructive interior condensation. Any thru-port exhaust ports should be sealed with duct tape and the fuel filter and water separator will need to be replaced.
  3. Coat the spark plugs. Take out the engine flame arrestor and “shoot” fogging or two-cycle oil into the carburetor while the engine is running. Turn off the fuel supply to burn off any excess fuel. With the engine off, inject oil inside the cylinders.
  4. Fill the engine block with antifreeze. Bleed any remaining engine coolant from the engine block and manifolds and fill with the proper antifreeze for your model boat.
  5. Change the engine’s gear oil. Flush and replace the lower unit gear case lubricant if your boat has an inboard/outdrive engine. This keeps the internal parts free of water damage.
  6. Disengage the battery and store in a safe, dry place for the winter. The battery should be fully charged when put away. Retain the charge and maintain the water level while the battery is in storage.
  7. Inspect your vessel’s propeller and hub. Look for dented or bowed blades and widespread wear. Change damaged parts and make needed repairs when winterizing your boat.
  8. Spray the contact points on all plugs and bulb sockets with a moisture displacing lubricant. Wrap the plugs with electrical tape to keep them dry.
  9. Clean your boat before storing it for the winter. Remove surface dirt with a washcloth or soft sponge.
  10. Cover your boat, even if it will be stored in a heated garage or another type of storage facility.

The best place for your boat during the winter is out of the water, under cover, in a climate-controlled boat storage area. However, this can be expensive so, at a minimum, complete the maintenance steps above to help reduce the possibility of costly repairs to your investment come spring.  Do you have any additional boat maintenance tips to share?

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