Ten Boat Maintenance Tips That Will Keep You on The Water Longer
As awesome as it is to own a boat, they can create several headaches if you neglect maintenance. You can either have fun week in and week out, or continue to throw good money after bad. Following these tips can help you stay on the water instead of under the shade tree or on the side of the road cussing up a storm.
Check trailer tire pressure and condition – If you don’t get your boat to the lake, you can’t get to the fish. Trailer maintenance is often completely forgotten. It’s not uncommon to see someone pulled over alongside the highway because their trailer tire blew out or they have spring or axle corrosion.
Trailer tires typically run at higher psi than automotive tires. Check the sidewall for the correct pressure, which is likely around 50 psi. A low tire equals a hot tire, and hot tires are more likely to blow out. Check for weather cracking. Trailer tires often sit outside year-round, exposed to the sun. Replace cracked tires and store your trailer with the tires elevated during the off-season.
Grease trailer bearings – Like the tires, trailer wheel bearings are easy to overlook. They are submerged in water every time you launch and load your boat. Although the hub seals are designed to keep water out, age and neglect can allow water intrusion, which invites rust and corrosion. Rust acts like sandpaper and scours the ball bearings, causing them to run hotter and boil the grease out, worsening the problem. I recommend packing them with new grease and replacing the seals yearly.
Grease the bearings at least once a year with a high-quality synthetic grease designed to resist water washout, such as AMSOIL Synthetic Water-Resistant Grease.
Change lower unit gear lube – Your boat motor’s lower unit is continuously exposed to water. If water infiltrates the lower unit, the gear lube can foam, which compromises wear protection. Change the gear lube at the end of the season to ensure peak protection the following year.
Check the prop for debris – While you’re changing the gear lube, remove the prop and check for wrapped fishing line or other debris. It can damage the seal that keeps water out of the lower unit, allowing water intrusion.
Change oil and filter – There’s a long-standing debate in powersports circles: do you change oil before or after the season? Used oil is acidic. If it sits in your four-stroke motor all off-season, it can erode vulnerable components, like bearings and seals. Change the oil and filter at the end of the season to ensure peak protection during storage. Some of us use our boats more than others, so if you are in it all of the time, follow the suggestions by your manufacturer.
Grease tilt tube – Rust and corrosion can form on the tilt tube, preventing the motor from raising or lowering and restricting steering. At the end of the season, grease the tilt tube using a water-resistant grease. In addition to protecting against rust and corrosion, seasonal greasing also eases steering input.
Use an oil formulated for marine applications – Don’t assume an automotive motor oil will do the job protecting your four-stroke marine engine. Automotive oils don’t contain sufficient anti-rust/anti-corrosion inhibitors to protect marine engines. Use a marine engine oil designed with the correct additives to protect your engine, such as AMSOIL Synthetic Marine Engine Oil.
Check Through Hull Fittings – As your boat ages it will inherently start to have dry rot issues. Most of your through hull fillings that drain can have hoses that can crack and leak. Also check the flaps and ensure that they have the proper elasticity.
Treat fuel continuously during the season – Most people are accustomed to using automotive fuel additives periodically. In marine applications, however, it’s best to use them with every tank of fuel. Why? Because ethanol, present in most gasoline sold today, has a natural affinity for water. If moisture collects in your gas tank, it can bond with the ethanol and reduce performance. Treat fuel with an additive designed to keep water dispersed in the fuel tank and prevent phase separation, such as AMSOIL Quickshot®. Continuous use also helps prevent formation of performance-robbing deposits, varnish and gums.
Treat Fuel During The Offseason Too – Most problems with gasoline engines are after it sits for an extended period of time. You may think that you are going often enough in the off season, but why chance the oxidation and varnish. Use a Gasoline Stabilizer to ensure that you fuel stays fresh and doesn’t gum up all of those hard to reach places.