July 6, 2022
By Tim Smalley, Minnesota DNR
Each fall, after the boating season is over, it's time to prepare your watercraft for winter storage. For some, putting the boat away consists of turning it over on the beach, putting the motor in the basement, and forgetting about them until spring.
However, taking a few more steps in the fall will reduce some hassles in the spring when you get ready for your first outing. If you have to stop to fix a cranky motor, or hunt for a life vest without a broken zipper, you'll be cutting into your time on the water.
Here are some tips for winterizing your boat.
Fill Your Gas Tank
Use a fuel stabilizer in your gas tank, especially if your fuel has ethanol. Your state may differ, but all regular gas in Minnesota has ethanol, as does some premium unless it is labeled as non-oxygenated. Leave a little room (5 percent) in the tank for expansion. Ethanol has an affinity for water and can cause other problems, especially in older motors. A stabilizer helps deal with moisture condensation problems, and keeps the gas fresh until spring.
Flush The Cooling System
You can bet at some point during the summer, you ran through the shallow end of the lake and dredged up a good percentage of the lake's bottom sediment plus the usual snips and snails and eelpout tails through the outboard's water pump.
Using an earmuff style flushing attachment that hooks up to the garden hose can help make flushing a quick chore. Water pump impeller fins can break off after a few years and may need replacing, too. This isn't a job for Mr./Ms. Fumble Fingers so you if you aren't sure how to do it, you might want to farm this one out to the professionals.
Check The Plugs, Fog The Cylinders
While you are flushing the motor, it's a good time to take the cover off and check the plugs, plug wires, and fuel lines, and run some engine cleaner through the carb. After this, run the engine with the fuel line disconnected until it stops. This pulls the stabilizer through the system. Inspect the plugs, too, but before you put the plugs back in spray some fogging-oil in each cylinder to help prevent the cylinder walls from rusting. Empty and clean the fuel-filter bowl as well.