As fun as it is to own a boat, they can create headaches if you neglect maintenance. Follow these boat maintenance tips to help you avoid expensive repairs and stay on the water.
Check trailer tire pressure and condition
You can’t get to the fish if you fail to get to the lake.
Trailer maintenance is often overlooked. It’s not uncommon to see someone pulled over alongside the highway because their trailer tire blew out.
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 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.
Grease the bearings as part of boat maintenance 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.
Pro Tip: The AMSOIL easy-pack makes changing gear lube easier compared to rigid conical bottles or a gear-lube pump. It reduces mess, hassle and waste.
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 when it comes to boat maintenance: 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 prior to storage to ensure peak protection during the off-season.
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 fuel additives with every tank of fuel.
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.
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.
Instead, use a marine engine oil designed with the correct additives to protect your engine, such as AMSOIL Synthetic Marine Engine Oil.
Updated. Originally published May 26, 2016.