How to Winterize a Boat in 10 Steps

By Debbie Hanson
12/3/2013 10:16:39 AM

Winterizing your favorite fish-catching machine is probably one of the least favorite chores of fall, but knowing how to winterize a boat is an absolute necessity in order to maintain the longevity of your boating lifestyle. The individual steps may vary slightly based on the average low temperatures for your area and the type of motors or accessories your vessel may have. However, the major goals of draining the water from the engine and lubricating as many of the internal engine surfaces as possible in order to prevent corrosion or internal damage will be the same.

By taking the time to thoroughly complete your boat winterizing duties, you'll prevent more expensive problems later down the line. At the same time you'll be addressing any issues that are best handled by an expert mechanic during the off-season when they are less busy. This will mean more time on the water and less time that the boat is in the shop or with the mechanic come spring. As with any type of boat maintenance, be sure to check your owner's manual for specific manufacturer instructions on winterization since boats and engines can differ.

Before you get started with the winterizing process, it will help to make a checklist of the items you'll need. This list will include:

Image via sraggio on Flickr

boat stands

plywood bases

pressure washer


earmuffs or flushing kit

boat trailer

fresh water source

non-toxic antifreeze

fogging oil



lithium grease


oil filter

fuel stabilizer

grease gun

gelcoat paste

boat cover or tarp

tie-down straps

The more time you take storing and winterizing your vessel properly, the less money you'll have to spend on repairs, the more time you'll have on the water, and the more hassle-free use you'll get to experience next season.

Remove From Water

Remove the boat from the water using either a trailer or forklift. Check to be sure that the area where you plan to store the boat is flat and solid. Then, block up the boat using cement blocks or boat stands with plywood bases to spread the weight evenly. Improper blocking can cause stress cracks and other problems, so it's important to take the extra time to be sure your boat is blocked correctly.

Flush the Motor

Hook up a fresh water source to run the engine out of water by using an "earmuff" motor flusher (sometimes referred to as dog ears) or a flush kit. Use a hose to flush the engine if it has a self-contained rinse or use an earmuff flusher that slides onto lower unit of engine and flush using the "earmuffs."

Fogging Oil

Start engine and spray fogging oil directly into carburetor or intake. Then, pull spark plugs and spray fogging fluid into top of cylinders. The fogging oil will lubricate all of the parts internally, such as the cylinder walls and piston rings, and will help to prevent rusting and corrosion.

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