5 Easy Steps in Boat Winterization Like a Pro

Tom Wiesen

Nov 26, 2021

Be proactive about winterizing your boat and get it completed well before the first freeze. Winterization for outboard motors, inboard motors, and inboard/ outboard motors all share the same process. Because an unexpected cold snap can spell disaster for your boat engine and lead to costly and time-consuming repairs, it is wise to plan ahead.

Step #1: Treat the fuel with a stabilizer

First, you’ll want to add a stabilizer to your fuel system, and then run your engine in order to cycle it throughout your entire fuel delivery system including the tank, fuel lines, filters, bowls, and injectors. By doing this simple annual maintenance you will ensure easy start-up and smooth engine performance in the springtime. 

As a side note it is a good idea to top off your fuel tank in the fall in order to reduce water condensation in your tank and contaminate your fuel.

Step #2: Drain and Purge the Cooling System

Secondly, winterize the cooling system of the boat motor to avoid water freezing and damaging your engine through expansion of ice. Remove all of the drain plugs that are naturally found throughout the cooling system in the block, the manifold, and the exhaust systems. 

Once the “seawater” is drained, replace and tighten all of the plugs and then take a glycol-based antifreeze and feed it into your cooling system until it comes out of the exhaust. This assures you that all of the water has been purged from the cooling system, and that the impeller blades that pump water through the cooling system will not dry out over the winter. 

If you aren’t confident to do this on your own, you can check out Lakeside Marines boat winterization specials and a certified mechanic will perform the winterization service.

Step #3: Disconnect the Battery

By choosing to disconnect the battery, you will eliminate the possibility of a slow drain on the battery through electronics. If your battery becomes discharged, it can actually freeze and get ruined. It is best to remove your boat battery and store it indoors in a heated area. Ideally, it would be placed on a battery charger mid-winter, and again in the springtime prior to reinstallation.

Step #4: Winterize Boat Plumbing

On larger boats you’ll need to also run glycol antifreeze through your sink, shower, and toilet systems. You’ll need to treat both the supply lines, and the drainpipes. This is essential because always these lines and drains are in hard-to-reach places and with simple preventative maintenance you’ll never have to worry about the hassle of boating season repairs.

On larger boats you will also want to winterize your generator.

Step #5: Store Engine with Clean Oil and Fluids

Beyond the fuel system and cooling system, the fall is a great time to change your oil so your engine is stored with clean oil, to top off all of your fluids, and to put rust preventative lubricant on all your hydraulic arms for your steering, power tilt, and trim tabs. 

What about your air filter and fuel filter? Clean is always better. What about servicing any grease fittings? Keep everything lubed to displace moisture, and ensure smooth springtime operation. 

Autumn is the best time to change out the fluid on your lower end or drive in order to keep it running smoothly and maximize its longevity. The lower unit/ drive service should be performed once a year preferably in the fall. To keep your boat in top running condition so you’re ready to hit the throttle in the springtime, check out Lakeside Marine’s fall boat maintenance specials and boat winterization specials.

If all of these maintenance tasks are addressed in the autumn, your launch in the springtime is sure to be joyful and satisfying. As the saying goes, take care of your boat and it will take care of you. 

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