How to prepare your boat for winter storage (winterizing your boat’s motor):

  • Charge and test battery, clean terminals and check fluid level if applicable
  • Check all fluid levels
  • Add fuel stabilizer to gas to help prevent degradation of gas during short term storage
  • Run and test engine
  • If four stroke engine: change engine oil and filter
  • Change gear oil and lube all lube points
  • If stern drive equipped: service drive: remove drive, inspect all rubber components for wear

Why winterizing is important:

  • Prevents freezing and breakage of expensive housings
  • Stores the engine with clean oils to prevent internal corrosion
  • When the fog oil is applied it coats the internal components to prevent further corrosion.
  • Fuel stabilizer keeps the gas from turning into a thick varnish that blocks fuel system passages.

Water Separator

This is also a great time to change the water separator/fuel filter if equipped as you would want to know now if you have water in your fuel so that something can be done about it prior to letting the engine and fuel system corrode all winter long. And yes, water separator/fuel filters can be added to units that were not lucky enough to have them from the factory

Apply fog oil to engine to prevent internal corrosion – see owners or service manual for proper application procedure

Clean flame arrestor if equipped

Inboard or Stern Drive

Stern drive or inboard:  drain all raw water from engine, manifolds and coolers
also make sure you drain the water from any domestic systems, fish wells or wash-down system
Out board or stern drive:  once the boat is in its winter home the lower the engine or drive down to allow the water to drain from the exhaust cavity in front of the propeller to prevent freezing. If possible leave it in this position. If not then cover the lower housing so that rain water or snow can’t enter the housing through the propeller

Finally disconnect the battery from the boat wiring, bring the battery inside a garage – preferably yours or someone you know and connect it to a trickle charger during the winter if possible. At the very least disconnect the battery as we have heard of key switches, trim switches or other shorting during storage. I am told that when your in bed at night and you wake to the familiar sound of your boat running can be scary to say the least not to mention dangerous

Now that we’re on the subject of disconnecting batteries you may want to think about installing a battery disconnect switch and maybe even an additional house battery with a multiple position battery switch.

How to prepare your boat after storage:

  • Charge and test battery, clean terminals and check fluid level if applicable
  • Check for possible freeze damage, cracks in cooling passages.
  • Check all fluid levels
  • Visual inspection of belts, hoses, electrical connectors and fasteners
  • Run and test, check for fuel, water or oil leaks
  • Check water flow and cooling system operation, ensure that engine is cooling properly and is reaching proper operating temperature
  • Check operation of neutral safety switch or other start in gear protection
  • Check operation of emergency stop switch
  • Check throttle and shift and steering operation
  • Check all on board systems
  • Check compression or perform leak down test, replace spark plugs, cap and rotor if equipped and check timing
  • Replace fuel filters if not done during winterizing, check for contamination of fuel
  • Change oil and filter, change gear oil and lube all lube points, note: this should be performed when engine is set up for storage so that engine and drive are not stored with damaging corrosive contaminates
  • Inspect water pump impeller and thermostat
  • Replace anodes as needed

Special attention required  for oil injected outboard :

  • Check oil injection tank for water or other contaminates, top off oil tank with proper oil

Special attention required  for stern drive:

  • Remove drive and inspect all rubber components on transom ie: bellows and hoses.
  • Check and and adjust engine alignment during use

Other tips for maintaining your engine at its best:

  • When your done running in salt water, make sure to flush it out with fresh water.
  • We also recommend using a product called Salt Away when flushing. It’s also a good idea to use Salt Away on the exterior of the engine to help eliminate corrosion.
  • Remove the engine cover and check for signs of water, fuel or oil leaks. If there is evidence of leaking attempt to locate and repair as soon as possible. If you have salt water corrosion this is another good spot to use Salt Away.
  • Loosen the drain plug in the lower unit to check if there is any water in the oil. This may be a sign that there is a leak. Note: always replace the drain and vent plug gaskets if disturbed.

IMPORTANT: With outboards, always keep the power head higher than the lower unit, as water may flow into the cylinders causing major damage.
With 4 strokes, the key is to make sure you lay the engine on the correct side with the power head high, so oil won’t drain into the engines intake through the crank case breather. This makes them almost impossible to start and of course loss of engine oil.
Fuel contamination is a major problem these days, whether its water or rust sediment. Dealing with this is a major part of our business. We are always amazed at the junk they call fuel that we are all spending our hard earned money on. The smaller the engine the worse it is. As the engines are more fuel efficient the fuel passages are smaller and get plugged with debris very easily. Always use a fuel stabilizer in the gas if it is going to be stored for a period of time. With small engines we would recommend using a stabilizer at all times that way when it is not used for a few months you will minimize the risk of having a engine that is hard to start. We sell a funnel with a Teflon coated screen that will help eliminate water and particulates as you are filling your tank. I would highly recommend taking these steps to keeping your fuel clean as it can be the difference between having fun on the water or major frustration.

We hope that taking some of these steps will help you to have less down time and more fun on the water.

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