Spring Boat Maintenance Tips
With spring on the horizon your thoughts are no doubt beginning to turn to your boat once more with thoughts of warm summer days out on the water with friends and family.
To ensure these days go without a hitch it is important to get your boat ready for the season ahead by making sure it is in a safe condition and is running efficiently. As part of this process you should thoroughly inspect and address a number of items on the boat.
- If you have a gas tank it would be a good idea to empty it and refill with fresh fuel as gas goes off over time. If you have a diesel tank, as long as you filled it full before the winter to avoid condensation it should be fine to go.
- Visually inspect the gas tank and fuel lines for any corrosion.
- Check the primer bulb if you have one and make sure it is firm and strong. Replace the bulb if you notice cracks or if it collapses. If you didn’t replace the fuel filter/water separator before the winter this should be done now.
- When filling up with a fresh tank of gasoline, you might consider using a fuel treatment such as Sierra’s eGuard to help with fuel economy although you should always check with your engine manufacturer before using additives.
- Since the cold weather can greatly deplete your battery, it’s important to allow it to fully recharge. If the battery is over two years old you may want to replace it.
- Battery cells should be checked and filled with distilled water if required.
- Visually inspect the terminals for corrosion and clean them if needed.
OIL & LUBRICATION
- Replace the oil and oil filter if it wasn’t done in the fall.
- Inspect the oil injection unit and clean or replace it if necessary.
- Inspect the prop shaft and lubricate it if needed.
- Re-lubricate all necessary parts.
- Check the condition of the lower-case oil. If the oil appears milky or cloudy, it is likely there is a leak in one or more of the lower unit seals. This should be addressed quickly, as water in the gear case can lead to expensive repairs.
- With inboard engines you will need to check the cooling system. If you drained the system before winter it should now be filled up. If you left the cooling fluid in over the winter it should be drained and refilled with the recommended fluid.
- Check hoses leaks and signs of cracks or wear. Replace if necessary.
- Check spark plugs and wires for damage. If one needs replaced, your chances are relatively high that another one will go bad soon, so save time and replace them all. TIP: When you disconnect the ignition wires, be sure to remember the cylinders to which they correspond. With larger motors this can be especially important because the timing is set to fire the cylinders in a certain order.
- Check all electrical components to ensure they are clean and free from corrosion.
- Inspect fuses and replace those that may have damage.
- Check all instruments are working and repair or replace if necessary.
- Check cabin and navigation lights are all working.
- Pull off the propeller and inspect for any damage or fishing line.
- TIP: Make sure you keep track of the order you remove the washers, nuts, sleeves and adapters. This will ensure an easy reinstallation once you’re done.
- Inspect the anode on your engine and replace it if there appears to be heavy corrosion. An anode that is in good condition will keep the parts of your engine that sit in the water from corroding.
- If your boat has a hydraulic steering system like BayStar, SeaStar or SeaStar Pro, check fluid level and that it is all working correctly and there is no lag or spongy feel in the system.
- Check the tilt and trim fluid for the proper fluid levels and address any leaks prior to launching the boat.
- See our Steering Maintenance articles on this site which give more details for both hydraulic and mechanical steering systems.
- Inspect your boat’s steering, shift and throttle cables. Make sure they are all moving freely. If you notice any cracks or bulges in the outer jacket of the cable, this could indicate corrosion and warrants replacement before to taking your boat out on the water.
- Inspect the hull for damage, cracks, blisters and get repaired if necessary. Wash and wax to get it looking great!
- Antifouling – if you keep your boat in the water it will need a new coat or two of antifouling following the appropriate preparation.
- Check ropes, dock & anchor lines to make sure they are in good condition and not showing signs of wear.
- Check safety equipment such as flares and fire extinguishers are in date.
- Are all lifejackets/floatation devices in good order?
- If you trailer your boat give the trailer a thorough check too. Make sure the brakes are working well, inspect the tires and ensure they are at the right pressures, and check all lights are working. Also check for rust
If you have any doubts about any of the above points we recommend getting your boat checked by the professionals.
And don’t forget, maintenance is an ongoing thing. Take the time to give your boat’s systems a quick check every time you go out on the water. A few minutes looking things over will help you catch little problems before they become big ones.